To Be is to Persist

Philosophy Now 141 (141):8-11 (2020)
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What does it mean for an object to persist through time? Consider the statement, ‘My car is filthy, I need to wash it.’ Consider the response, ‘How did it get that way?’ The answer is that dirt, dust and other particles have collected on the car’s surface thus making it filthy. Its properties have changed. At one point in the car’s career, none of that dirt and grime existed on its surface and the car was said to be clean. The fact is that for a car to get dirty, the extension of time is necessary. The standard view of identity is that each thing is entirely itself at any given time. So how can an object remain identical with itself over time, if it changes its properties? In many ways I have different properties now than those I had last week. But if I am different, how then can I be the same? The objective of this article is to answer the question of what it means to say that we and other things persist through time. First I’ll lay out two popular philosophical views of persistence through time, then I will present possible problems with both views. After that, I will outline another possible answer that lies outside of these views. Finally, I will providemy own answer.

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Dustin Gray
University of California, Santa Cruz


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