The Partiality of Wholeness

Religious people believe in the existence of a supreme being. It has many attributes but two of the most striking are that it seems to both encompass and to pervade everything. Judaic sources are in the habit of saying that we all have a "share of the upper divine soul". Put more formally, we can say that we are both part of a Whole and permeated by it.

But what are the relationships between the parts and the Whole?

They could be either formal (a word in a sentence, for instance) or physical (a neurone in our brain, for instance).

A formal relationship entails an impairment of the truth value of a sentence / proposition / theorem / syllogism with the removal of one or more of its parts. As a result, a part could be reconstructed to fit into an impaired Whole once the formal relationships (and the derivative truth value) are known.

Things are pretty much the same in the physical realm: the removal of the part renders the Whole - NOT Whole (in the functional sense, in the structural sense, or in both senses). A part is immediately discernible: it is always smaller (size, mass, weight) than the Whole and it always possesses the potential to contribute to the functioning / role of the Whole. The part need not be active to qualify as a part - yet, it requires the potential to be active to do so.

In other words : the Whole is defined by its parts - their sum, their synergy, their structure, their functions. Even where epiphenomena occur - it is inconceivable to deal with them without resorting to some discussion of the parts in their relationships with the Whole.

But the parts are also defined by their context, by the Whole. It is by observing their place in the hyperstructure, interactions with other parts and general function of the Whole that we can assign the title ("parts") to them. There are no parts without a Whole.

In this sense, it seems that parts and Wholes are nothing but language conventions, a way that we chose to describe the world that was compatible with our evolutionary and survival goals and with our sensory input. If this is so, then, being defined by each other, parts and Wholes are inefficient, cyclical, recursive, in short: tautological modes of relating to the world.

The problem is not merely confined to philosophical and linguistic theories. It plays an important part in trying to define physical systems.

A physical system is an assemblage of parts. Yet, the parts remain correlated (at least, this is the assumption in post-Einstein physics) only if they can maintain contact (=exchange information about their states) at a maximum speed equal to the speed of light. When such communication is impossible (or too delayed for the purposes of keeping a functioning system) - the correlation rests solely on memories. Memories, however, present two problems : first, they are subject to the second law of thermodynamics and are atrophied through entropy. Second, as time passes, the likelihood that the memories will no longer reflect the true state of the system increases.

It would, therefore, seem that a system in physics is dependent upon the proper and timely communication between its parts. This, however, clashes, head on, with some interpretations of the formalism of Quantum Mechanics which fail to uphold locality and causality (see: "The Many World Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics and the Demise of Science" to be published). The fact that a Whole is defined by its parts which, in turn, define the Whole - contradicts our current worldview in physics.

Moreover, can we say, in any rigorous sense, that the essence of the Whole (=its Wholeness and holistic attributes and actions) can be learned from the part? If we observe the part long enough and are equipped with omnipotent measurement instruments - can we then tell how the Whole will look like, what will be its traits and qualities and how it will react and function under changing and different circumstances?

Can we glean all that from a strand of DNA? If we were aliens living a galaxy away and were to come to possess a strand of DNA - having never set eyes on a human before - would we have been able to reconstruct one? Yes, if we were also the results of DNA genetics. And what if not?

Granted: if we were