Persistence
Oderberg (David)
Source: J. Kim, E. Sosa, and G. Rosenkrantz (eds) A Companion to Metaphysics, 2nd ed. (Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, 2009): 55-65
Paper - Abstract

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Author’s Introduction

  1. Things change. This much looks like a metaphysical and observational datum. By the proposition that things change we typically mean that things survive change – not all changes, but most. In other words, we live in a world in which there is both change and sameness. My car was red; I have given it a coat of green paint; now it is green. One of the car’s qualities has changed, and to that extent the car itself has changed. But we would all accept that it is still the same car. The standard way of putting this philosophically – though not a way we often describe it – is to say that the car has persisted through a change, in this case of color.
  2. Yet it is not just change that compels metaphysicians to wonder about persistence. It may be that, as Aristotle held, time is the measure of change, and so without change there could be no time and hence no persistence – since persistence occurs in time (extra-temporal existence, such as God’s, would not on this view be a kind of persistence) – yet things persist even when undergoing no macroscopic change such as that of color. What is it for a material object to persist pure and simple? Is this a misconceived question because persistence is too basic a phenomenon to yield to analysis? Or can the metaphysician say something informative about what it involves? Is there something inherently strange, or even paradoxical, about the concept of persistence such that we ought to deny that anything really persists? Or can we retain the idea of persistence and instead deny that anything changes since it is change, rather than persistence itself, that raises insoluble problems?

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