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Plato on Parts and WholesThe Metaphysics of Structure$
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Verity Harte

Print publication date: 2002

Print ISBN-13: 9780198236757

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2003

DOI: 10.1093/0198236751.001.0001

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Composition and Structure

Composition and Structure

(p.158) Chapter 4 Composition and Structure
Plato on Parts and Wholes

Verity Harte (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

Begins with some general considerations about structure and the role it might be thought to play in the constitution of a whole and then turns to Plato's own account of both composition and structure. In the Sophist, structure is the proper object of science, as in mathematical structuralism for example, and it is so because structure is made a basic and irreducible item in its ontology. The same holds true in the Philebus, in which the class of limit captures the structure of things, abstractly conceived, and the unlimited captures the domain of content on which it is imposed, while together these are the two ingredients of the analysis of a mixture, normatively conceived, that is, of a whole. Then, in the Timaeus, structure is characterized mathematically, but, as in the Philebus, wholes may again be characterized as contentful structures.

Keywords:   composition, mathematics, parts, Philebus, Plato, Sophist, structure, Timaeus, wholes

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