Has any Buddhist philosopher claimed space is ideal because it is a whole, and wholes can't be real?

With emphasis on space, not what takes it up, except perhaps to say they're "in" space likes parts in a whole, and / or the contents of a whole.

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    In Theravada space is listed as one of the primary elements like earth, water, fire, air, space, consciousness.
    – user4878
    Nov 17 '17 at 7:48
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    Would not any abstraction be ideal? ...time, space ... Nov 17 '17 at 15:35

Space (akasha) is one of those dharmas that were debated by Early Buddhist schools.

Some counted space as an unconditioned dharma along with Nirvana, and some did not. If I remember correctly, Theravada does not, and most other early schools did consider space unconditioned.

Then within that, there was argument whether a certain dharma can perform a function (whether its "real" or not - being able to participate in causal chains was considered an important characteristic, which later was denied equivalency with ultimate existence - things can perform function even though they are empty of real existence). This argument included akasha, some said it can cause results and some said it can't.

Some said akasha is only an absence of objects etc. All this messy debating about dharmas, in my opinion, is what led to eventual emergence and popularization of Emptiness philosophy and praxis of prajnaparamita. Declaring all dharmas to be mere conceptual designations/imputations, was an elegant way out of endless debates.

I do not remember who specifically spoke about "whole" vs "parts" but there was a line of analysis that was born somewhere in the period between Abhidharma and Madhyamaka, that showed that all spatial entities are designations, because they have "sides" (left/right/top/down) - and since they can be subdivided, they are therefore constructed, therefore are generalizations attached to a construct, hence not real. You find this point still cited in various Tibetan commentaries explaining the various facets of Emptiness.

Sorry, nothing specific here, hope it helps at all.

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