Particulars and Persistence

Dissertation, Princeton University (1983)
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The thesis is concerned with the outline of an ontology which admits only particulars and with the persistence of particulars through time. In Chapter 1 it is argued that a neglected class of particulars--the cases--have to be employed in order to solve the problem of universals, i.e., to give a satisfactory account of properties and kinds. In Chapter 2, two ways in which particulars could persist though time are distinguished. Difficulties are raised for the view that everything perdures through time, i.e., the view that each persisting thing is a sum of continuous and dependent temporal parts. Objections to the view that people perdure are presented in Chapter 3, objections to the effect that such a view cannot capture salient truths about the nature of experience and wrongly implies that our special concern for ourselves, our friends and our familiars is irrational. An alternative account of persisting particulars is provided in Chapter 4 by way of given a theory of substances. Finally, in Chapter 5, this alternative account is applied to the issue of personal identity and to the issue of the identity over time of living things in general. A Hylomorphic View of living things is sketched and briefly defended. ;Throughout, certain themes recur: essentialism is taken to be relatively unproblematic, various connections between time and modality are exploited, reductionism is regarded as bearing the onus of proof, characterless entities such as prime matter, substrata, bare particulars and haecceities are rejected and the differences between the animate and the inanimate are emphasized

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Mark Johnston
Princeton University


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