The last post suggests another nuance, having to do with how “total” and “totality” are said in many ways. This is particularly sensitive, because these terms have both genuinely innocent senses and other apparently innocent senses that turn out to implicitly induce evil in the form of a metaphorically “totalitarian” attitude.
Aiming for completeness as a goal is often a good thing.
There is a spectrum of relatively benign errors of over-optimism with respect to where we are in achieving such goals, which at one end begins to shade into a less innocent over-reach, and eventually into claims that are obviously arrogant, or even “totalitarian”.
Actual achievements of completeness are always limited in scope. They are also often somewhat fragile.
I’ll mention the following case mainly for its metaphorical value. Mathematical concepts of completeness are always in some sense domain-specific, and precisely defined. In particular, it is possible to design systems of domain-specific classification that are complete with respect to current “knowledge” or some definite body of such “knowledge”, where knowledge is taken not in a strong philosophical sense, but in some practical sense adequate for certain “real world” operations. The key to using this kind of mathematically complete classification in the real world is including a fallback case for anything that does not fit within the current scheme. Then optionally, the scheme itself can be updated. In less formal contexts, similar strategies can be applied.
There are also limited-scope, somewhat fragile practical achievements of completeness that are neither mathematical nor particularly ethical.
When it comes to ethics, completeness or totality is only something for which we should strive in certain contexts. About this we should be modest and careful.
Different yet again is the arguably trivial “totality” of preconceived wholes like individuals and societies. This is in a way opposite to the mathematical case, which worked by precise definition; here, any definition is implicitly suspended in favor of an assumed reference.
Another kind of implicit whole is a judgment resulting from deliberation. At some point, response to the world dictates that we cut short our in principle indefinitely extensible deliberations, and make a practical judgment call.