Joseph Polanik wrote:
is there a mereological problem here; or, is there a problem with mereological analyses?
We humans have a drive to find explanations, where explanation consists in finding a bigger collection of parts within which the behavior of the part in question, or even its existence, may be understood. Given the emergence of that (presumably instinctive) drive, it was not eradicated in the process of natural selection since it admits of predictions that have value in survival and/or reproduction for the human organism in its environment. What is important here is the practical advantage conferred upon the human organism by virtue of this drive. Explanations that cannot be cashed-out in terms of such practical advantages remain speculative unless (and until) technological developments eventually allow them to do so. If there are parts, then there is a sum total of those parts. That sum total itself is often a part in a bigger system of parts, yielding a hierarchical structure. There comes the idea of a sum total of all parts (both the presumed apex of the hierarchy and the entire pyramid) and then our instinctive drive for explanation becomes pathological and leads us to demand an explanation for the existence of that entire pyramid. Explanatory accounts may be imagined, but they cannot be cashed-out as practical advantages for the organism in terms of survival and/or reproduction. Competing accounts cannot be eradicated on grounds of empirical evidence since there can be no empirical evidence of any "beyond the sum total of *all* of the parts". What we indulge in when seeking forsuch explanatory accounts is pointless metaphysical speculation, or hot air.
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