society is greater than the sum of its parts

So Aristotle’s “something besides the parts” is not a mathematical observation but a language observation. INCOSE is an international professional organization dedicated to advancing the practice of Systems Engineering.The Chesapeake Chapter of INCOSE serves the systems engineering community in the Northern and Central Maryland, and Southern Pennsylvania area. The use of the metaphor of a society, or a consensus reality of any kind with a “, its soul, and its actions,” is useful to the point of understanding society as gestalt, with effects, and an affect, beyond that of ANY of its individual components. And using the Segment Addition Postulate – If point P is between points A and B, then AP + PB = AB. (redirected from is greater than the sum of its parts) be more/bigger/greater than the sum of its parts To be something made up of a large collection of things or people in which the total unit is more important, impressive, successful, etc., than its components are individually. “The whole is greater than the sum of the parts.” A phrase attributed to Aristotle and misquoted by those seeking to understand one of the most mysterious properties of a system: Emergence. Mises is an unapologetic dualist in the one case and an incorrigible reductionist in the other. To speak of a society’s autonomous and independent existence, of its life, its soul, and its actions is a metaphor which can easily lead to crass errors. INCOSE Chesapeake Chapter © 2009–2019 | PO Box 535 | Laurel, Maryland 20725-0535, Champions and Practitioners of Systems Engineering, Second, is it not rather arbitrary for Mises so willingly to accept mind, reason and their correlate, human action, as “ultimate” givens that are irreducible to the mere material processes of nature (Mises’s “methodological dualism”), while insisting that society, by contrast, is nothing more than and is therefore reducible to the individuals of which it is composed? Change ), You are commenting using your Facebook account. Let’s look at the whole quote and try to see if the context of Aristotle’s thought process can be understood. Or is it? But this concept about the whole, and its relationship to its parts, is the beginning of thinking about Systems and that very difficult and mysterious property of Emergence. As individual members' solo careers have proved, each band was greater than the sum of its parts. This isn’t just a language problem for Aristotle. So let me try rephrase the phase using a more modern Systems Engineering language, “The System is something beside, and not the same, as its elements.”. And we now can see that Aristotle was mainly concerned with explaining the multifaceted aspects of definition (object) and terms (parts). Joe Biden in the White House: which world leaders stand to lose out? Understanding Aristotle's concept of definition is important when you step back and investigate the whole paragraph that includes our “the whole is something besides the parts” phrase. It exists nowhere else than in the actions of individual men. According to Mises, society is a whole that is no greater than the sum of its parts: The total complex of the mutual relations created by such concerted actions is called society…. Fundamental Insights & Most Important Points Often the whole is greater than the sum of its parts Sometimes out of a multitude of simple processes comes something unexpected on a global scale. Change ), You are commenting using your Google account. But sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander, I say. Why are not those Forms themselves the man, so that men would exist by participation not in man, nor in-one Form, but in two, animal and biped, and in general man would be not one but more than one thing, animal and biped?” [1]. Society: a whole no greater than the sum of its parts? ( Log Out /  Let’s step back even further in context as to why Aristotle made this declaration in the first place and try to bring some context to the situation. Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window), Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window), Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window). As explained by S. Marc Cohen in his article "Aristotle's Metaphysics", from the online Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, “It is important to remember that for Aristotle, one defines things, not words. Surge in Covid cases tests Sweden’s go-it-alone approach, Republican resistance to Biden victory starts to crack, Democracy or dictatorship? This kind of metaphor is especially useful when we consider the effect of a society upon and individual who allows consensus thinking to overrule where the individual’s inner life might guide him or her. As any other area of physical world, society and economy are also affected by the complexity phenomena The word “besides” is used instead of ‘“sum of.” “Besides” is a better word, since using the word “sum” evokes Euclid and the prospect that this concept utilizes Math in some way. Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: You are commenting using your account. Human sociality is every bit an irreducible “given” as human rationality. He indicated that this was all about the study of ‘being qua being’ -- or ‘beings, in so far as they are beings.’  Aristotle is not an easy read. ( Log Out /  Jonathan. It is a delusion to search for it outside the actions of individuals. can’t find anywhere else. A metaphor itself can’t lead to crass errors, but the use of one can. Words, meanings, and definitions are slightly different than their modern equivalents. ( Log Out /  The first is that Mises seems to posit a false dichotomy between society being nothing more than the aggregation of “individuals for cooperative effort” on the one hand, and, on the other, the supposed alternative of society somehow existing elsewhere “than in the actions of individual men.” (I.e., I submit that there is no contradiction for society to be, contra Mises, more than the combination of individuals for cooperative effort, while at the same time, and consistent with Mises, “exist[ing] nowhere else than in the actions of individual men.”). [4] Aristotle 100a, Topics, Translated by W. D. Ross, [Note: © SE Scholar 2019, reprinted by permission from the]. Change ), You are commenting using your Twitter account. The arguments are particularly appropriate in cases where the process of putting the parts together is obvious, as in a house and other things of that sort: for there, clearly, you may have the parts and yet not have the whole, so that parts and whole cannot be the same.”  [4]. According to Mises, society is a whole that is no greater than the sum of its parts: The total complex of the mutual relations created by such concerted actions is called society…. Let our global subject matter experts broaden your perspective with timely insights and opinions you Is AI finally closing in on human intelligence? So we have found two quotes by Aristotle that are very close to the phrase, “The whole is greater than the sum of the parts” but not quite. 07 “Of the Silmarils and Unrest of the Noldor”. ), URL = . Let’s take a closer look at this expression and try to … But society is nothing but the combination of individuals for cooperative effort. Ipso facto, the sum of parts equal the whole. America is … Let’s take a closer look at this expression and try to ascertain what Aristotle was trying to say when he wrote the phase some 2370 years ago. Yes, it is sometimes useful to think of society as an entity unto itself, and that perception is not without some validity. (Human Action, 143), A couple of responses. [read my exploration into that topic] The phrase is also used to explain the importance of Synergy and the foundations of Gestalt theory. Thus, the definition of tiger states the essence—the ‘what it is to be’ of a tiger, ....” [3]. [1] Aristotle 980a Metaphysics,Translated by W. D. Ross, [2]  Euclid,  Elements, Book I, Common Notion 5. Think of a Dremel tool with a gooseneck. It is possible not only for society to act on individuals, but for society to act on itself, and for individuals to act on society far beyond the scope of their physical ratio to the whole. But society is nothing but the combination of individuals for cooperative effort. Each gear, screw, and motor winding has it’s properties, and the sum of the components is joined in a remarkable tool, which is certainly more than the some of any of the individual parts. Actually Math comes to a different conclusion when it comes to “the sum of the parts.” Euclid from his famous book Elements, Book I, Common Notion 5 says, “The whole is greater than the part.” [2] Which seems close to our phrase but Euclid is expressing how a whole can be split into parts, and any one of those parts, compared to the whole, is less than the whole. When the Whole Is Greater than the Sum of Its Parts: On the Conceptualization and Measurement of Populist Attitudes and Other Multidimensional Constructs - Volume 114 Issue 2 Within this writing the phrase, “The whole is greater than the sum of the parts” doesn’t turn up until Book VIII, 1045a.8–10. [3] Cohen, S. Marc, "Aristotle's Metaphysics", The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Winter 2016 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed. Even the definition of “definition” needs to be re-examined in light of Aristotle's time and place. Sorry, your blog cannot share posts by email. In chapter 13, he states, “... that the whole is not the same as the sum of its parts are useful in meeting the type just described; for a man who defines in this way seems to assert that the parts are the same as the whole. :), Thanks for the post, Mark. Here’s the 1908 translation by W. D. Ross: “In the case of all things which have several parts and in which the  totality is not, as it were, a mere heap, but the whole is something besides the parts,  there is a cause; for even in bodies contact is the cause of unity in some cases, and in others viscosity or some other such quality.” [1]. You now find yourself in the midst of one Aristotle’s long and winding arguments, as he describes earlier in Metaphysics, a problem of the “unity of definition.” Definitions get complicated when they start including many terms (or parts).

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