Friday, August 22, 2008

Mereology

Mereology. There's a word I don't come across often. From today's Crooked Timber:

At present I'm in a part of Ireland where internet access is about as common as sunshine and clear skies. This means I have only belatedly come across Matt Yglesias's call for technical assistance from my wife, in her capacity as a trained professional mereologist, to help resolve the thorny question of whether John McCain's luxury double-condo in Phoenix counts as one house or two. My understanding is that mereological relations are somewhat flexible, and it's quite acceptable for the same material object to be two condos and one home. Nevertheless, I am a mereologist by marriage only, so my views should not be taken as representing the opinions of a trained and licensed professional. I do think that this issue opens up the possibility of a new kind of political philosophy, though.

My desk dictionary defines mereology as "the abstract study of the relations between parts and wholes."

The chattering classes are wondering whether John and Cindy McCain own seven or eight residences. No elitist he.