Re: Atomism = Holism ?

Daniel Fabulich (
Fri, 19 Jun 1998 19:46:21 -0400 (EDT)

On Fri, 19 Jun 1998, Alex Future Bokov wrote:

> Pardon me for my usual ignorance, I haven't been keeping up with this
> debate during the various times it has surfaced over the last couple of
> years, but...
> Since I am not Ian
> Alex = !Ian
> ...does Ian believe that it somehow follows that we are in fact the same
> person? Or can only the sum of everyone and everything in the universe
> that is also not Ian add up to an Ian equivalent?
> Given that the universe can be defined in terms of its
> non-Ian-ness, in what way should this change my beliefs, behavior, or the
> manner in which I predict events that have yet to happen?

I'm sure Ian will send back a rather lengthy reply, but the long and the
short of it is this: If I ask who Alex is, and I get back the answer
"Alex is Alex," I will not really have learned anything. If I get the
response "Alex is like Ian, only with the following differences:" then I
get a far more complete answer. What we conclude is that we have to know
something about what you are not in order to have any idea as to what you
are. If you and Ian were the only two entities in the universe, then on
some level you would have an identity only by virtue of the fact that you
differed from Ian.

This is clearest when used in terms of color. If everything in the whole
universe were red, then you couldn't really define red in any meaningful
way. However, you could do so if there were OTHER colors, in which case
you might get an idea of what red is by examining the ways in which it is
different from the other colors.

nb, Ian is also somewhat liberal with his use of the logical operators.
When he says "=", he probably doesn't mean the "=" to which you're

<shrug> Take it or leave it.