Perdurantism


Perdurantism

Perdurantism or perdurance theory is a philosophical theory of persistence and identity. [http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/temporal-parts/ Temporal parts] - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy] The perdurantist view is often defined as being the claim that objects have distinct temporal parts as opposed to endurantism (endurantism is the view that an individual is wholly present at every moment of its existence). The use of "endure" and "perdure" to distinguish two ways in which an object can be thought to persist can be traced to David Kellogg Lewis (1986). However, contemporary debate has demonstrated the difficulties in defining perdurantism (and also endurantism). For instance, the work of Ted Sider (2001) has suggested that even enduring objects can have temporal parts, and it is more accurate to define perdurantism as being the claim that objects have a temporal part at every instant that they exist. Zimmerman (1996) has said that this won't work, as there have been many self-professed perdurantists who believe that time is 'gunky' and that for every interval of time, there is a sub-interval. Consequently there are no instants,Dubious|date=March 2008 and Sider's definition must be altered to admit of this fact. Currently there is no universally acknowledged definition of perdurantism (see also McKinnon (2002) and Merricks (1999)).

Worm theorists and stage theorists

Perdurantists break into two distinct sub-groups. The former are 'worm theorists'. They believe that a persisting object is composed of the various temporal parts that it has. So all persisting objects are four-dimensional 'worms' that stretch across space-time, and that you are mistaken in believing that chairs, mountains and people are actually three-dimensional. This is to be contrasted to a more recent twist called 'stage theory'. Stage theorists take you to be identical with a particular temporal part at any given time. So, in a manner of speaking, I only exist for an instantaneous period of time. However there are other temporal parts at other times which I am related to in a certain way (Sider talks of 'modal counterpart relations', whilst Hawley talks of 'non-Humean relations') such that when I say that I was a child, or that I will be an OAP, these things are true because I am related to a temporal part that is a child (that exists in the past) or a temporal part that is an OAP (that exists in the future). Stage theorists are sometimes called 'exdurantists'.

Reasons to be a perdurantist

There are many reasons on offer to become a perdurantist, ranging from problems in logic, to the problem of temporary intrinsics, to the problems of the Ship of Theseus. An excellent survey can be found in Sider (2001).

Notable perdurantists

* Yuri V. Balashov who has produced a large amount of literature concerning perdurantism and special relativity. (Not to be confused with Yuri S. Balashov)
*Jonathan Edwards who argued that the sum of every stage of every person could be considered as one enormous whole. In doing so, he controversially alleged he had solved the problem of Original Sin: it is not unfair of God to punish you for the sins of Adam and Eve, for God is merely punishing the enormous whole that has Adam and Eve as temporal parts, and so the enormous whole is guilty of sin. Your being punished is merely an unfortunate side effect of this.
* Leonard Goodman
* Katherine Hawley
* Mark Heller
* Hud Hudson
* David Lewis argued perdurance theory was necessary for time travel
* Robin Le Poidevin
* Ted Sider
* J.J.C. Smart
* W.V. Quine
* Alfred Whitehead

Notes

References

* [http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/temporal-parts/ Temporal parts] - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy
* Lewis, D.K. 1986. "On the Plurality of Worlds" Oxford: Blackwell
* McKinnon, N. 2002. "The Endurance/Perdurance Distinction", "The Australasian Journal of Philosophy" 80:3 p. 288-306.
* Merricks, T. 1999. "Persistence, Parts and Presentism", "Nous" 33 p. 421-38.
* Sider, T. 2001. "Four-Dimensionalism" Oxford: Clarendon Press.
* Zimmerman, D. 1996. "Persistence and Presentism", "Philosophical Papers" 25: 2.

ee also

* Counterpart theory


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