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Aristotle METAPHYSICA Book 5 Part 26

A whole

1. 'A whole' means: -

2. (1) that from which is absent none of the parts of which it is said to be naturally a whole, and

3. (2) that which so contains the things it contains that they form a unity; and this in two senses - either as being each severally one single thing, or as making up the unity between them. For (a) that which is true of a whole class and is said to hold good as a whole (which implies that it is a kind whole) is true of a whole in the sense that it contains many things by being predicated of each, and by all of them, e.g. man, horse, god, being severally one single thing, because all are living things. But (b) the continuous and limited is a whole, when it is a unity consisting of several parts, especially if they are present only potentially, but, failing this, even if they are present actually. Of these things themselves, those which are so by nature are wholes in a higher degree than those which are so by art, as we said in the case of unity also, wholeness being in fact a sort of oneness.

4. Again (3) of quanta that have a beginning and a middle and an end, those to which the position does not make a difference are called totals, and those to which it does, wholes. Those which admit of both descriptions are both wholes and totals. These are the things whose nature remains the same after transposition, but whose form does not, e.g. wax or a coat; they are called both wholes and totals; for they have both characteristics. Water and all liquids and number are called totals, but 'the whole number' or 'the whole water' one does not speak of, except by an extension of meaning. To things, to which qua one the term 'total' is applied, the term 'all' is applied when they are treated as separate; 'this total number,' 'all these units.'


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