Looking for a word that conveys a particular nuanced concept.
February 1, 2014 11:55 AM   Subscribe

Here is the concept I am trying to put a single word to: a sense of ultimate "completion" achieved through the joining of many disparate parts. The word I'm searching for must capture the sense of these disparate parts integrating to fulfill a higher destiny, of being not only greater together but, through this harmonious integration, achieving ultimate purpose or the greatest possible manifestation of each parts' potential. I.e., "Coming together to form the greatest possible, or most complete, reality."

Obviously this sort of word could easily describe some lofty ideal, like different kinds of people coming together to form a Utopian society, but it could even be relevant in a more mundane sense, like when various pieces of decor and furniture are pulled together and arranged so as to make a particular room look the "best" it could.

Is there any word that perfectly captures the essence of what I'm trying to convey here? Perhaps a foreign word? I really feel like Japanese aesthetics might be hiding the word I'm looking for. English words that hit close to the mark but fail to satisfy are: symbiosis/symbiotic; harmony; eclectic; syncretic; synthetic; perfection; synergetic/synergistic; fulfillment; collaborative; interdependent. And so on.
posted by Angel de Lune to Writing & Language (28 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Do "consummation" or "acme" come anywhere close? If not, what about them doesn't strike you as quite right?
posted by C'est la D.C. at 12:03 PM on February 1, 2014

I believe you're looking for synergy.
posted by xenophile at 12:05 PM on February 1, 2014 [1 favorite]

This definitely makes me think "consummation" as well.
posted by redfoxtail at 12:05 PM on February 1, 2014

posted by LobsterMitten at 12:06 PM on February 1, 2014


It/I am now whole.
posted by saradarlin at 12:06 PM on February 1, 2014

posted by Middlemarch at 12:07 PM on February 1, 2014 [1 favorite]

posted by un petit cadeau at 12:17 PM on February 1, 2014 [2 favorites]

Synergy could be it though.
posted by 0 answers at 12:48 PM on February 1, 2014 [1 favorite]

Hi, thanks for your suggestions everyone.

The shortcoming of most of these words is that the integration is not explicitly credited for the resultant perfection. The word I am looking for would imply a perfection that was only achieved through the integration of the "right" particular parts.

So far synergy is the closest word I have found that might apply (it takes the form of "synergetic/synergistic" in my list above), but the shortcoming there is, while it implies the whole being greater than the sum of its parts, it does not convey that the outcome is optimum, only "better than." So the closest I can get is two words, like maybe "perfect synergy" or "ultimate synergy," however I am endeavoring for a single word (that may or may not yet exist) to describe this concept.
posted by Angel de Lune at 12:52 PM on February 1, 2014

My first thought was entelechy.
posted by Monsieur Caution at 1:04 PM on February 1, 2014 [1 favorite]

posted by the man of twists and turns at 1:15 PM on February 1, 2014 [1 favorite]

The concept of "overdetermination" in Western Marxist thought has some of these properties, although not the evaluative note. But if traced to its Hegelian roots, it describes syntheses that were in some sense necessary.
posted by spitbull at 1:36 PM on February 1, 2014

Replete implies fullness and completeness.
posted by BAKERSFIELD! at 1:45 PM on February 1, 2014

gestalt was what immediately came to mind for me as well
posted by clerestory at 1:52 PM on February 1, 2014 [1 favorite]

If I were speaking or writing informally, I would refer to this as to Voltron something. Yes, a cartoon reference, but it carries the exact meaning of combining many parts to create a superior, ultimate form.
posted by Jon Mitchell at 3:56 PM on February 1, 2014 [1 favorite]

All right, so these are all great words, especially in terms of expressing ultimate achievement/actualization/fulfillment. However, most of these words do not inherently mean that the ultimate achievement in question was the direct result of integrating numerous discrete parts. This reinforces my suspicion that there is no such word that expresses this EXACT concept, though there are words that partially resemble it.

Also, thanks for sharing "entelechy," Monsieur Caution. I should have known Aristotle would have something interesting to contribute to this line of thinking. Even though this word too does not fully describe what I mean to say.

I don't mean to be overly dismissive here, and I am very grateful for all of your contributions!
posted by Angel de Lune at 5:28 PM on February 1, 2014

That's a great word, and maybe "entelechic integration" or "entelechic syncresis" are pretty good two-word expressions of a similar idea.
posted by Jon Mitchell at 6:22 PM on February 1, 2014

I don't know if you would count this a cheating, but you might be able to use something like a compound modifier to more exactly capture what you are looking for?
posted by C'est la D.C. at 6:23 PM on February 1, 2014

posted by misha at 6:57 PM on February 1, 2014

Yeah, I would agree entelechy is not exact, and the definitions that focus on telos/completion/actualization are best, because that's what it is for the most part. But in De Anima, entelechy does pick up a secondary connotation of being the result of integration. Here's the relevant passage from Aristotle in both Greek and English, where it's translated as "perfect realization" in a discussion of the organs of a plant working together to bring the potential for life/movement/growth into being. I think Aristotle didn't mean for that to be central, but plenty of folks have picked up on it. See definition 3 here, or paragraph 2 here. If you used it, you'd probably have to modify it or offer context, as you would for other suggestions.
posted by Monsieur Caution at 6:59 PM on February 1, 2014

You might be able to re-purpose (and in a way revive) the word "synesis" to mean this. It's an old-fashioned rhetorical term for notional concord, that is, using a construction that agrees with the meaning of a word rather than its grammatical form, like referring to a company, band or team as "they" because it consists of more than one person. Its meaning was different and broader in Greek though. It comes from σύνειμι "go together".

"Synesis" is accented on the first syllable. The adjective would presumably be "synetic".
posted by nangar at 9:23 PM on February 1, 2014

I forgot to warn you: In my second two links, you have to click on the links to the right of the word to get definitions.
posted by nangar at 9:33 PM on February 1, 2014

posted by casarkos at 12:25 AM on February 2, 2014 [2 favorites]

It might help if you told us what parts you have in mind, and how they look at the end.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 12:35 AM on February 2, 2014

I do have a couple of examples in my extended info section, i.e. the parts in question could be various (human) individuals and, when brought together, the result a perfect society. Or it could be simpler, such as various pieces of furniture arranged together so as to form a perfect room. Basically I need a word for "a perfect/unified whole brought about through the integration of the "right" discrete parts."
posted by Angel de Lune at 8:32 AM on February 2, 2014

Synergistic apotheosis would convey that, though it's kinda pompous.
posted by Sebmojo at 12:55 PM on February 2, 2014

Pompous indeed, and while there are many two word combinations that would do the trick, I was trying to see if somewhere, out there, beyond the English language perhaps, there was one singular word to convey this complex idea. Like yugen; a simple word to define a deep concept.
posted by Angel de Lune at 6:46 PM on February 4, 2014

Hmm. You know, symphony might work.
posted by misha at 1:46 PM on February 5, 2014

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