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[Xmca-l] Re: Parts and wholes
Let me point out a basic ontological difference between the two levels of the arch and the stones. When we speak about stones, we refer to things the wholeness of which is closed and implicit, ie the molecular structure of the minerals that make these stones up is, for us, not really relevant in the context of their “stoneness”. However, when we speak about the arch (as intended in Calvino’s parable) we are not actually referring to a similar “thing”. The arch is nothing but the relation in which the stones are placed to each other. Its own ontological status is that of an idea, or a formula. (As soon as we begin to think of stones as molecular structures, the same difference is highlighted on a lower level, as it can be with molecules consisting of atoms etc.) When Li Chun is looking for a cleaner arch, from which superfluous stones are eliminated, he performs an analogical operation to what mathematicians do when they reduce 3/18 to 1/6. Thus, in order to formulate the problem clearly, we need to distinguish between the characters of a formula and an entity (the being of which is not contingent of the formula, as the stones can easily make up also something other than a bridge).
With best wishes,