Riding the bus I wondered to myself what does it mean to be a part of this bus. From a physics/ computer vision interpretation one may collect all parts that are moving in unison with the larger whole (in this case the bus). Yet, I was stuck trying to figure out what should I categorize the reflections I saw in the window.

Being that the reflections were of outside things I was conflicted on if I should say they were part of the outside vs part of the bus.

Another may even attempt to trace back and say the reflection should 'belong' to the object in which it originated within. (say the sun, or street lights). But, from a computer vision standpoint, with some machine learning capabilities (ignorant of the photon sources and scatter dynamics) what would one train the reflection to be a part of.

(Please not I am not saying the window itself, but the reflection due to the window and outside projections of objects)

Any well formed arguments to influence my world view?

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    You can ask this question because your conciousness makes the whole universe about you. Your perspective is all that matters. You understand what a reflection is... so you rationalise away the immediate sensation of them being integral to the bus. This rationalisation, it's possible absurdity... is at its core, the contention between realism, and idealism. So take your pick. Were the reflections part of the bus or not? Red pill... or blue pill. – Richard Feb 27 at 1:29

If a bus can be defined as a whole of parts, each of the parts has properties. So a bus window, which is a part of the bus, is made of glass and the bus has the property of having a glass window or its windows have the property of being glass. If a window carries a reflection, i.e. throws back light in a particular pattern, then this is a property of a property. The property of being glass, in the case of the window, has itself the property of throwing back light.

I don't think, at least in ordinary usage, that a property of a property of a part of a whole is itself a part of the whole. Take a different example to illustrate my point. Its metal panels are a part of the bus; so the bus has the property of being made partly of metal. Now, metal expands when heated - has the disposition to expand. This disposition is a property of a property of the bus - of the property of being made partly of metal - but no-one would say that the disposition of metal to expand when heated is a part of the bus.

Good question. Shows that mereology can be an intriguing mind-teaser.

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    Another way to think about it, is considering that the whole does not exist (there is no bus), and there is a window, there would still be reflection. But if there is no window, there would be no reflection, so the element that is needed for reflection to be a property at all is the window, not the bus. Although it seems to me that the OP asks about, not the 'property' of reflection, but rather the content of reflection itself, at the moment. – SmootQ Feb 27 at 14:02
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    @SmootQ. Nice analysis. There are many ways of dealing with this. Yours is more sophisticated than mine. In your terms I think what I had in mind was that there could be no content of a reflection without the property of reflecting and this seemed to me a property of a property. Also I think the OP has in mind a non-dismantled bus;)- Nice to exchange ideas again. Best - Geoffrey – Geoffrey Thomas Feb 27 at 19:10
  • it is just a way to look at it, I agree with you on the idea that a property of a property, is not a property of the object itself (although I am still trying to get my head around it) , Best ! – SmootQ Feb 27 at 20:28

Imagine the bus being struck by lightning. Would the lightning become a part of the bus? The lightning (like the light reflecting off the window) would only interact with what, in its absence, we would call the bus.

We should also realize that the things reflected from the outside are not the light that bounces off of them. The reflections in the window are only light that has been changed by interacting with the object on the outside. Is the sound the bus makes as it passes, a part of the bus? No. It is a characteristic we give the bus (like a loud bus) but one that does not belong to it. We do not measure the bus itself to observe the sound. We measure the movement of the air.

The reflections are not a part of the bus but are instead the product of the bus interacting with its environment. Light was created by the Sun or a street lamp and then interacted with an object (which changed the light) and then was reflected into your eye. It is not a part of the objects on the outside or the bus because light is a thing itself just like air.

The bus has the characteristic of having reflective windows, but the reflections are not the bus.


Being that the reflections were of outside things I was conflicted on if I should say they were part of the outside vs part of the bus.

I would say the reflections are part of the bus for the brief time they exist.

The answer depends upon the response to a more basic question: what is "the bus"? If the bus includes only those qualities necessary to move the structure, such as the tires, engine, and steering wheel, then the reflections are not part of the bus.

If "the bus" is extended to those qualities necessary to transport people comfortably, then the bus includes the roof and windows; however, the reflections are still not part of it.

But if "the bus" includes its coloration, then the reflections become, however briefly, part of the bus.

  • I really feel like this is good observation and breaking down of what qualities we should use to identify. My issue, if I was to looking into a (regular) mirror I would say there is "my' reflection, as I am sure many others would say. Yet, if we went to a fun house, one may say look at what the mirror did to my image. Turning an image into its own entity if the reflection does not seem 1 to 1 in our perspective of self. – Numoru Mar 2 at 6:22

When you use the phrase part of the bus, I interpret it to mean a compilation or assembly of parts that provide a synergetic function specific to its purpose.

That being said, I’m curious if you would classify the passengers as part of the bus. To me the bus is a vessel, which can interact with the external environment and even temporarily contain it, but those variable pieces are still part of the external environment. The light (or reflection) is still belonging to the outside world.

Even if the source of light or object being reflected was within the bus, I’d argue that the reflection is a side-effect property of something that is detached from the bus, in this case a ray of light. The bulb that emitted the light might be part of the bus, but once the light is emitted and leaves the source, the light is its own element. Example: I would consider a high intensity laser to be produced by a laser gun, but is not part of the laser gun.

  • In the moment, I viewed passengers as part of the bus. Most stagnated, looking at phones or out of windows as the bus drifted them along. This motivated my question. Removing issues of self-awareness, the nearest 'refection' of the situation (haha) was the windows' reflections.(1)changed physical attributes (location/distortions) as the bus moved (2) seemed to come from external system (3) changed due to original object [like a conscious]. I hoped to gain an understanding of the situation. Your laser example is quite good, yet it too leads to questions and counter examples. – Numoru Mar 2 at 6:07
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    Ex. a machine designed to throw out one of its necessary gears. By your logic, somehow the gear is part of the external system and internal, being that it is designed to kick itself out from the beginning. Sure causality will come into play. But, the true issue is what would we call that machine during the process of removing its function and therefore purpose. – Numoru Mar 2 at 6:09
  • It is interesting. I am thinking in terms of concepts and not in terms of physical phenomena (atoms, quarks, space) that bundle things “together” through boundaries and proximity. I would hold that the people may be part of the bus by some legal term, but not for this purpose since the bus serves the people or objects it carries. Much like remoras (fish) that latch on to whales & sharks -some in mouths- they are an independent entity. However, both entities can be thought of as one symbiotic system under a different name. – vol7ron Mar 2 at 12:57
  • I think in the OP it’s a matter of first defining the system as it’s difficult to refer to the bus as an object and also the transport system. That said, the gear ex is also interesting, but I would call back into question function specific to purpose. If the gears function is to be discarded, then I don’t know if it is “part of the machine”, but if it’s used to give the machine motion and discarded by chance the purpose is less ambiguous. Much like a bullet is not part of a gun, but may be considered part of the assembly, It’s an interesting question that I have to give more thought. – vol7ron Mar 2 at 13:06

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