Glossary

S is for…

STRUCTURE
This term can be defined in both a broad and a narrow sense. A series of random numbers is still a “series” or, more broadly defined, a s. Only something definitively amorphous would not be a s., which is equivalent to saying: “that which has no s. is not a s.” However, such a formulation is vacuous. In the sense explained by Husserl, the elements of a whole are not comprised as parts of the whole but as members, and therefore the totality or group is a whole and not simply a “sum.” The members of a given body are correlated, and so they are not independent with respect to the others, and are in fact reciprocally interrelated. This marks an important distinction from the atomistic conception and its method of analysis applied to the study of a s. When Husserl establishes that in the s. of perception or representation, “color” is not independent of “extension,” he is indicating that an atomistic separation of the two terms ruptures precisely the real essence of the perception or representation. Thus, consciousness in general must be viewed as a s. that changes in its position-in-the-world, and in which each of its members is related with the others in an inseparable way in that change of position. This description is valid for an understanding of structures as diverse as historicity and human society.
As for the relationship between a s. and its environment (which in turn should be considered as a s.; for example, the biotic environment), it is usually designated as a “system” (for example, an ecological system). In general, in a system the structures interrelate as members of the same system. When we speak of the-human-being-in-the-world, we refer to a system of non-independent structures, and, in this case, the human being (*) cannot be considered, in and of itself, but rather as an “opening up” toward the world; in turn, the “world” can only be meaningfully apprehended in relation to the human being.

A Dictionary of New Humanism, in Silo; Collected Works Vol 2.