Some attribute it to the fabled Greek philosopher Aristotle, while keen believers in gestalt psychology are keen to claim it as one of their own.
‘The whole is greater than the sum of its parts’ is the famous quote.
And, no matter who first penned it and when, Sheffield United’s Paddy McCarthy is still a keen believer in the message behind it.
Tuesday night’s 1-0 defeat at Bramall Lane, to MK Dons, was the first time in two years that the 31-year-old Irishman had played two games in four days, after a troublesome time with injury.
But, as he told the Press afterwards, team glory will always come ahead of personal improvement. In McCarthy’s world, United are indeed far greater than the sum of their parts.
“Playing Saturday and Tuesday for the first time in two years is a big thing for me. It has been a difficult time, of course, but as the weeks go by I feel fitter and stronger.
“But, as I said when I first came here, this isn’t about me, and it isn’t just about me using the club to get up to full fitness.
“It’s about the team, and about winning games. Results haven’t gone to plan, but we are on the right lines as a group. We will move forward.
“We’re on a disappointing run of results at home, and teams are coming to Bramall Lane and setting up for a point, because we have a lot of players who can score goals and we’re capable of opening teams up.
“But that approach is nothing new. It’s up to us to come up with the answers.
“We spoke before the game about going out there, enjoying our football, expressing ourselves and not getting too down about results, and I think we did that against MK Dons. We created all the chances, had all the play and we can take a lot of positives.”
Fresh from his double-header of games, McCarthy will now sit out Saturday’s FA Cup tie against Plymouth Argyle under the terms of his loan deal with Crystal Palace.
“We play Southampton in the League Cup soon, too, and it’s a big frustration for me that I can’t play in either of the games,” McCarthy added.
“But without me, I am sure the team will have enough to get a good result against Plymouth to ensure we go to Fleetwood with our tails up.
“We must take the positives from the MK Dons game and move on to focusing on the Cup.”
McCarthy, a senior, experienced professional, speaks with almost a child-like enthusiasm for the game - and with good reason, too. In conversation with this newspaper recently, he revealed that he now treasures every moment on the pitch after a mystery injury - later diagnosed as Osteitis Pubis, which causes chronic groin problems - threatened to wreck his career.
Family remains the most important part of the Dubliner’s life, though, and under the terms of his arrangement with United, he can train with Palace in midweek before joining up with Nigel Clough’s side ahead of a weekend game.
“It was important to me to speak with the United lads and make sure they were okay with the arrangement - if it caused any kind of conflict, I’d knock it on the head straightaway,” he said.
“But they’ve been fantastic with me - they understand where I was coming from with my family and didn’t resent me for it, so I thank them for that.
I just want to help the club get up the table, now. I dont just want to be here to play games. I want to help win them.”
It was a soundbite which summed up a man who wholly believes in a team philosophy.
Aristotle would be proud.