Quantitative and logical parts

A body can neither be known nor be without its parts, but to bring any part fully into act destroys it as a part. A stick with endpoints A and B is known by any multitude of parts – let AC be one of them. One actualizes this part by making a cut at C – but to do so makes AC no longer a part of a whole. A part thus has an intrinsic and essential repugnance to actuality, so far as its act is its annihilation as a part.

This nature of body allows a way to approach the logical whole by likeness and  negation: for one actualizes a part by separating it from the whole by a difference, but to actualize such a part (say to actualize “animal” from the larger whole “living”) does not require making it no longer a real part of the greater whole:  animals remain essentially living. By this separation, the logical whole enters into the part as a different sort of part- in the sense that “living” only partially accounts for what we find in animal.


  1. thenyssan said,

    December 22, 2010 at 8:56 am

    It seems more intuitive to say that a part is actualized by being integrated into a whole. Why isn’t AC fully in act by being part of AB? I suspect there is a deep defect in my metaphysics here, which I am eager to correct. Am I confusing part with accident?

  2. December 22, 2010 at 12:52 pm

    I think it comes to the same thing: parts cannot have the sort of actuality that the whole has, and they have to be known by this imperfect actuality. There is not any ontological homogeneity with respect to act between whole and part.

  3. thenyssan said,

    December 23, 2010 at 2:59 am

    I hear you saying that to be actual is to be whole.

    I also hear you saying that everything in the universe, since it is a part of that whole, is less than fully actual and to make it fully actual would require taking it out of the universe. I remember you posting something about the kind of whole the universe is but I can’t find it now.

    Or is your last sentence meant to exclude both of these thoughts?

  4. December 23, 2010 at 7:48 am

    To the second: since the parts of the universe are such by their order, and this order is intrinsic – that is, arising from the very first moment of their existence – to speak of taking something out of the universe is impossible both in fact and in thought. Said another way, the consequence you give is a proof for impossibility. Here, the imperfection of parts is at its most dramatic.

    The first idea I was dealing with, however, was the imperfect nature of extension, which is primarily magnitude but extends to motion and time. The sort of parts one finds in order are similar to this.

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