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Like "the sum is greater than the parts", but one word?

asked 2018-07-04 21:56:15 -0400

Breezy gravatar image

Is there a word in any language that is defined as many insignificant parts (or actions) that together creates (or results in) a significant thing (or action)?

If not, how would one structure a new word in English that describes this, in your professional opinion?


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answered 2018-07-08 21:59:25 -0400

In English we have a word "Gestalt" which we borrowed in from German. It literally means "An organised whole greater than the sum of it's parts".

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answered 2018-07-08 14:00:51 -0400

Gerard Cheshire gravatar image

In English the nearest one can get to this is the word 'holistic'. In philosophical terms it means that the components are related and therefore one needs to consider the whole to appreciate the value of the components: i.e the parts require the sum. Thus, the sum is greater than the parts, because the parts need one another.

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What if the parts were acting in a more altruistic manner and didn't require the sum? For example, many volunteers doing insignificant pieces of work, together result in a significant positive change. The change could be for something that doesn't benefit them personally, but the result is great.

Breezy gravatar imageBreezy ( 2018-07-08 20:13:23 -0400 )edit

A word so very similar to holistic, altruistic and synergy, but not quite defined by them.

Breezy gravatar imageBreezy ( 2018-07-08 20:13:35 -0400 )edit
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Asked: 2018-07-04 21:56:15 -0400

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Last updated: Jul 08 '18