1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Synthesis

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SYNTHESIS (Gr. σύνθεσις, from συντιθέναι, to put together), a term used both generally and technically, with the fundamental meaning of composition, opposed to analysis (q.v.), the breaking up of a whole into its component parts. In teaching, for example, when a new fact is brought into connexion with already acquired knowledge and the learner puts them together ("synthesizes"), the result is "synthetic" and the process is "synthesis." The reverse process is analysis, as in grammar when a child breaks up a sentence into subject, verb, object, &c. Thus all inductive reasoning is synthetic in character. The term "synthesis" is much used in philosophy. Thus Kant makes a distinction, fundamental to his theory of knowledge, between analytic and synthetic judgments, the latter being those judgments which are not derivable from the nature of the subject, but in which the predicate is obtained rather by experience or by the operation of the mind (the "synthetic judgment a priori"; see Kant). Perhaps the most famous use of the term is in Herbert Spencer's "Synthetic Philosophy," the name given to the several treatises which contain his philosophic system - the "unification of knowledge" from the data of the separate sciences.