In various fields of thought, we tend to work from the details to the whole. In my metaphysics, I tend to work from the whole to the details. Here is an example of how it could matter. I dropped this analogy on Daily Philosophy today (still subject to moderation), in answer to a comment on consciousness:
"Suppose that we have a motor car which, when we turn the key in the ignition, springs to life. Now suppose that we seek to descibe this car by means of various theories. Such theories have various limitations. First, some are short of being comprehensive. Let us suppose that one of them comes very close—that it describes all but half a meter of wire in the car. Or there may be theories which describe the car at the wrong level, or theories which are insufficielty accurate, and so on. So every time we examine one or the other of these theories, it just doesn’t explain why the car springs to life when we turn the key. There is a problem, though, with this analogy. A car is presumably a closed system, which we can describe exhaustively, at least in itself. The mind, I would think, is an open or global system, where no theory will ever get close enough to why it springs to life."
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