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Volume 48 • Number 1

January 2011



Can a Thing Be Part of Itself?

by Stephen Kearns

Why might someone consider the answer to the titular question to be trivial? Perhaps because she has read some mereology and understands that mereologists distinguish between parthood on the one hand and proper parthood on the other. She understands that, at least when talking in the language of mereology, a thing is necessarily not a proper part of itself, but is necessarily a part of itself. Whether the English word “part” expresses parthood or proper parthood does not seem too important, seeing as either can be taken as primitive and one defined in terms of the other. Thus, whether something is part of itself or not is indeed a trivial matter of definition. If by “part” one means parthood, everything is part of itself. If by “part” one means proper parthood, nothing is part of itself.

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ISSN: 2152-1123