“Pars pro toto”. “Totum in parte et per partem”


A concept that Panikkar likes to use is “pars pro toto”: “There is no universality, be it objective or subjective. We see as much as we are able to see, but only all that we are able to see, our totum”. The vision that I have of reality (totum) is realized necessarily and legitimately at a particular time, through my particular cultural and religious window (pars). “We intentionally direct ourselves toward the totum, but until others make us come to the realization we are not conscious that by virtue of the pars pro toto effect we know the totum only in parte and per partem. We see everything through, and at the same time refracted in, our window" (La experiencia filosófica de la India, Madrid 1997).

“True ecumenism is not reduction to a common denominator. Authentic tolerance does not need to destroy unacceptable points of view. We do not need to dilute our own religious convictions in order to accept those of others. Each tradition claims the all (totum) and searches for it unconditionally… but sees the totum in parte et per partem with its own categories and from its perspective all of which allows the exigencies of holistic thinking and the global focus of reality to harmonize with the conditions of analytic thought” (A dwelling Place for Wisdom, Delhi 1995).

Raimon Panikkar

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“Writing, to me, is intellectual life
and also spiritual expirience…
it allows me to ponder deeply the mistery of reality.”