Parts, Wholes and Identity

Andrew Arlig

in The Oxford Handbook of Medieval Philosophy

Published in print May 2012 | ISBN: 9780195379488
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks

Parts, Wholes and Identity

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  • History of Western Philosophy
  • Metaphysics



Medieval philosophers appreciate the fact that in order to account for the individuality and identity of things, one must often take into account the parts of these things. This article notes that if one's theory of sameness and difference is not adequately subtle, confusions and unnecessary difficulties appear. Indeed, some puzzles that seem to have vexed medieval thinkers appear as sophisms. The article examines whether each part is the same as its whole; whether the whole is nothing other than its parts; the persistence of a whole; and composition and identity.

Keywords: medieval philosophy; sameness; persistence; identity; parts of whole; sophism

Article.  12598 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy ; History of Western Philosophy ; Metaphysics

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