How did the traditional doctrine of parts and wholes evolve into contemporary formal mereology? This paper argues that a crucial missing link may lie in the early modern and especially Wolffian transformation of mereology into a systematic sub-discipline of ontology devoted to quantity. After some remarks on the traditional scholastic approach to parts and wholes (Sect. 1), Wolff's mature mereology is reconstructed as an attempt to provide an ontological foundation for mathematics (Sects. 2–3). On the basis of Wolff's earlier mereologies (Sect. 4), the origin of this foundational project is traced back to one of Wolff's private conversations with Leibniz (Sect. 5) and especially to the former's appropriation of the latter's notion of similarity as a means to define quantity (Sect. 6). Despite some hesitancy concerning the ultimate characterization of quantity (Sect. 7), Wolff's contribution was historically significant and influential. By developing a quantitative, extensional account of mereological relations, Wolff departed from the received doctrine and paved the way for the later revival of mereology at the intersection of ontology and mathematics.

Mereology and Mathematics: Christian Wolff’s Foundational Programme

Matteo Favaretti Camposampiero
2019

Abstract

How did the traditional doctrine of parts and wholes evolve into contemporary formal mereology? This paper argues that a crucial missing link may lie in the early modern and especially Wolffian transformation of mereology into a systematic sub-discipline of ontology devoted to quantity. After some remarks on the traditional scholastic approach to parts and wholes (Sect. 1), Wolff's mature mereology is reconstructed as an attempt to provide an ontological foundation for mathematics (Sects. 2–3). On the basis of Wolff's earlier mereologies (Sect. 4), the origin of this foundational project is traced back to one of Wolff's private conversations with Leibniz (Sect. 5) and especially to the former's appropriation of the latter's notion of similarity as a means to define quantity (Sect. 6). Despite some hesitancy concerning the ultimate characterization of quantity (Sect. 7), Wolff's contribution was historically significant and influential. By developing a quantitative, extensional account of mereological relations, Wolff departed from the received doctrine and paved the way for the later revival of mereology at the intersection of ontology and mathematics.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/10278/3719848
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