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Hardcover | Out of Print | 248 pp. | 6.3 x 9.1 in | July 1999 | ISBN: 9780262032667
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Parts and Places

The Structures of Spatial Representation


Thinking about space is thinking about spatial things. The table is on the carpet; hence the carpet is under the table. The vase is in the box; hence the box is not in the vase. But what does it mean for an object to be somewhere? How are objects tied to the space they occupy? In this book Roberto Casati and Achille C. Varzi address some of the fundamental issues in the philosophy of spatial representation. Their starting point is an analysis of the interplay between mereology (the study of part/whole relations), topology (the study of spatial continuity and compactness), and the theory of spatial location proper. This leads to a unified framework for spatial representation understood quite broadly as a theory of the representation of spatial entities. The framework is then tested against some classical metaphysical questions such as: Are parts essential to their wholes? Is spatial co-location a sufficient criterion of identity? What (if anything) distinguishes material objects from events and other spatial entities? The concluding chapters deal with applications to topics as diverse as the logical analysis of movement and the semantics of maps.


“Objects, parts, holes, boundaries, and places are the stuff of our world. Philosophers and mathmaticians have dealt with parts of this spatial structure, using mereology or topology. With some new impetus from computer science, this well-argued and original book proposes a logical view on the whole.”
Johan van Benthem, Institute for Logic, Language and Computation, University of Amsterdam, and Department of Philosophy, Stanford University
“This is a lively and original survey of a broad and exciting territory. The scholarship is impeccable, the literature treated is up-to-date and thoroughly addressed, and the authors deal interestingly with cutting-edge problems at the borderlines of philosophy and cognitive science.”
Barry Smith, State University of New York at Buffalo