Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (2008)
|Abstract||We think of a boundary whenever we think of an entity demarcated from its surroundings. There is a boundary (a surface) demarcating the interior of a sphere from its exterior; there is a boundary (a border) separating Maryland and Pennsylvania. Sometimes the exact location of a boundary is unclear or otherwise controversial (as when you try to trace out the margins of Mount Everest, or even the boundary of your own body). Sometimes the boundary lies skew to any physical discontinuity or qualitative differentiation (as with the border of Wyoming, or the boundary between the upper and lower halves of a homogeneous sphere). But whether sharp or blurry, natural or artificial, for every object there appears to be a boundary that marks it off from the rest of the world. Events, too, have boundaries — at least temporal boundaries. Our lives are bounded by our births and by our deaths; the soccer game began at 3pm sharp and ended with the referee's final whistle at 4:45pm. And it is sometimes suggested that abstract entities, such as concepts or sets, have boundaries of their own. Whether all this boundary talk is coherent, however, and whether it reflects the structure of the world or the organizing activity of our intellect, are matters of deep philosophical controversy.|
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