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Key figures:


Totalisation; holism; plenitude; systems theory; structuralism; whole and parts; identity, functionalism

Fichte  Hegel  Marx  Althusser  Jameson  Lukacs  Durkheim  Bataille  Debord  Luhmann  Bohm;
Derrida  Lyotard   Martin Jay; Deleuze  ; Levinas  Badiou; Adorno;

A totality is a whole, but often it means a certain type of whole. It normally refers to a whole that is thought about as or has an effectivity as a whole. So 'totalities' are really wholes thought about as wholes. It thus designates the constitution of a whole; that is to say a relation superior to its elements. The totality in this sense represents a system with internal relationships or alternatively an entity that does not relate to anything outside of itself. It is complete.

Different types of totality

Its usage as a concept is predominant in Marx and Hegel and most dialectical philosophy. However the category of totality is also important for classical sociology as well as in a looser sense, holistic theories of society which can include religion. The question of totality should interest any analysis of the present. One reason for this is it has been a point at which one can think thorugh the relationship between thought and being. Hegelian Marxism promised a strong form of unity between an existing social reality and the categories of reflection, science and experience that arise as political subjectivity within it. In Lukacs the conflict between classes, the practice of the working class, is a recovering of an objective unity between the subject and his own objective ground of being. Totality qua epistemological category, is the methodological principle of thought's abstraction from its fundamental identity with what is (in what ever shape it presents itself e.g. Bourgeois naturalism, the state, nationalism, the imperatives of capital), to its reconciliation in the actualised potential of social consciousness realising itself in social being as envisaged in the politics of the dictatorship of the proletariat.

Read essay:
Why the critique of totality is political - Politics and totality - Erik Empson
The breath of the possible - Gavin Grindon

The Empire of the Known: Subjectivity and anti-totality within the discourse of totality
Multiplicité, totalité et politique by Lazzarato (in French)
Wholeness - by Jean Piaget
The concept of structure - discussed by Giddens as an absent totality
Negri and Hardt Totalities - Excerpt from Empire
Totality and totalisation  - Sartre (from Critique of Dialectical Reason)
Spinoza and totality
Different types of totality
Selections from Von Mises on Russell's theory of types
Money and Totality  - Fred Moseley
The Paradox of Finite totality  - Zizek

History and Class Consciousness Georg Lukacs
Marxism and totality Martin Jay
History and totality John Grumley
Wholeness and the implicate order David Bohm

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