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Plato


Verity Harte


Pages 432 - 435



No work of Plato is explicitly devoted to mereology. Plato’s contributions to the history of mereology fall into two main groups: (1) passages of his works in which examples of mereological entities or relations are given from which mereological content may be gleaned, but in which that content is not directly theorised in the passages in question; (2) passages that, more or less directly, theorize about mereological composition. These latter passages themselves fall into two main sub-groups: (i) passages that talk directly and at a level of considerable abstraction about part and whole (Parmenides esp. 129 c-130 a, 131 a-c, 137 c-d, 140 c-d, 142 b-145 c, 146 b 2-5, 157 b-e, 158 b-d; Theaetetus 203-206; Sophist 244 b-245 e); (ii) passages that talk in metaphorical terms about composition relations variously described as ‘mixing’, ‘combining’, and ‘blending’, but that do so at sufficient length and in sufficient detail, regarding examples sufficiently elaborated, that, at least arguably, mereological principles can be discerned therein (multiple passages in, for example, Sophist, Philebus and Timaeus).




1Department of Philosophy, Yale University



1 Cooper, J. M. (ed.), 1997, Plato Complete Works, Indianapolis/Cambridge: Hackett Publishing Company.

2 Frede, M., (1967), Prädikation und Existenzaussage. Platons Gebrauch von “...ist...” und “... ist nicht...” im Sophistes, Hypomnemata 18, Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht.

3 Harte, V., (2002), Plato on Parts and Wholes: The Metaphysics of Structure, Oxford: Clarendon Press.

4 Koslicki, K., (2008), The Structure of Objects, Oxford: Clarendon Press. Lewis, D., 1991, Parts of Classes, Oxford: Basil Blackwell.

5 Mann, W-R, (2000), The Discovery of Things. Aristotle’s Categories and Their Context, Princeton NJ: Princeton University Press.

6 Scaltas, T., (1990), “Is a Whole Identical to its Parts?”, Mind 99: 583-98.

7 Van, Inwagen, P., (1990), Material Beings, Ithaca NY: Cornell University Press.

8 von, Kutschera, F., (1995), Platons Parmenides, Berlin and New York: Walter de Gruyter.

9 von, Kutschera, F., (1998), “Parts of Forms. An Essay concerning Plato’s Parmenides”, Logical Analysis and History of Philosophy I: 57-74.

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