Cyril Latimer (1998) Wholes and Parts: Topology, Mereology and Mechanism . Psycoloquy: 9(31) Part Whole Perception (5)
Versions: ASCII formatted
Psycoloquy 9(31): Wholes and Parts: Topology, Mereology and Mechanism

Replies to Hoffman, Mortensen and Rakover
on Part-Whole-Perception

Cyril Latimer
Department of Psychology
University of Sydney
NSW 2006, Australia

Catherine Stevens
Department of Psychology/FASS
University of Western Sydney, Macarthur
PO Box 555, Campbelltown, NSW 2560, Australia


Hoffman (1998) and Mortensen (1998) do not appear to be in disagreement with our general remarks on wholes and parts; they extend discussion on relevant issues. We challenge Mortensen's claim that our position is not general by asking for examples of wholes that fail in any sense to conform to the Rescher & Oppenheim (1955) conditions. We argue against his view that there is no need to be over-concerned about the conditions under which an object X is to be considered as a part of object Y since the classical part-whole relation is invariant with respect to decomposition. We remain unconvinced by Rakover's (1998) argument that a mechanistic approach to whole-part perception cannot be taken because psychology necessarily lacks the measurement precision of the physical sciences. We challenge this view, but also suggest that inability to measure with precision is no excuse for the proliferation in psychology of vague, imprecise and ill-defined notions of wholes and parts.


analytic versus holistic processing, emergence, feature gestalt, global versus local precedence part, whole