An aggregate is a group of things which acquire additional functionality, over and above the functions of its members, as a consequence of grouping together. One can have loose aggregates such as crowds, or businesses and companies, or one can have much more permanent aggregates such as the human body.
All physical things, including the human body, are huge sub-assemblies of cells making up organs, which themselves make up higher organs and so on. Even lower than the physical assembly of a cell, we also have molecules and below this physical atoms.
Lower still we might imagine an even smaller building block I will call, for the moment, the ‘object’.
The object is the lowest common denominator of all the higher forms of assembly and everything in the end is made from it. All objects are the same and have some basic functions – let us call them functions F1, functions F2 and function F3 – see Function. We can now represent the start of the assembly of our human body [or whatever else we want to make] by simply putting all the objects we need in a row with their basic functions attached to them.
We are now going to create some physical atoms say an oxygen and a nitrogen atom by combining objects together and adding functions to the aggregate or the sub assembly. In effect by combining some objects we have created something new with a new set of functions............
In chemical terms we would not say the functions of oxygen or the functions of nitrogen but we might tend to call the functions 'properties', but property and function are synonymous. It is what that chemical does.
Now some more aggregation with two oxygen atoms and one nitrogen atom we create a nitrous oxide molecule and it too has functions very specific to it.
Again we might say the ‘properties’ of nitrous oxide and also mean it has functions that make it into nitrous oxide.
What we can see is happening is that at every level of assembly of the component parts, we have been able to add value by attaching new functions to the assembly at that level. If we continued on and on in this assembly process, we would find that cells had certain functions and that each organ had certain functions. The heart, for example, 'beats', the liver 'cleanses', the digestive tract 'digests'.
Many of the assemblies are reusable. A cell for example is highly reusable, but at each level it takes on a new role depending where it is in the assembly. If it is a heart cell it will behave like a heart cell, if it is a liver cell it will behave like a liver cell.
Thus all of these components take on a role depending on where they are in the sub-assembly.
In computing we say they 'inherit' the functions of their parent object.
What we can see from the diagram, however, is that cells have certain functions they can call their own which makes them into cells, that the heart has certain functions which it can call it own, so does the liver and the digestive tract, but at the top of the assembly so does the entire human being package.
Altogether if we add all the functions of every part of the physical assembly together, we can see that we are the sum total of all the functions of all the cells, the atoms, the molecules, and the organs from which we are assembled.
Note that this does not exclude us from sharing functions with other animals or even other living forms.
At the top of the tree we have something we have called the human body with its very special function. This is what some people mean when they talk about a ‘soul’ .
So the soul does not contain the functions of 'digestion' [stomach] or 'breathing' [lungs] or 'urinating' [bladder] or even 'sneezing' [which is that of the nose] or blinking[which is that of the eye] or chewing [which is that of the mouth] or walking [which is that of the legs], and so on.
As distinct from a physical atom, the name given to the object described above on this site is Atom. This name was used thousands of years ago to denote a spiritual object, but was appropriated by physicists to describe some physical lowest level building block.
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