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DOI: 10.4324/9780415249126-N009-1
Version: v1,  Published online: 1998
Retrieved July 14, 2024, from

Article Summary

There is a common-sense distinction between terms such as ‘statue’ or ‘chair’ on the one hand, and ‘concert’ or ‘war’ on the other. A long-standing tradition in metaphysics has attached some significance to this distinction, holding that the first kind of term is used to name continuants, whereas the second kind is used to name events or processes. The difference is that continuants can be said to change, and therefore persist through change, whereas events do not. However, the distinction between continuants and events has been challenged on the grounds that no concrete object does, in fact, retain its identity through time. It has been suggested, for example, that unless we give up the notion of identity through time, we are faced with questions that we cannot answer. In addition, the notion that things persist through change is, apparently, threatened by a certain view of time. On this view there is in reality no past, present and future, but rather unchanging temporal relations between events. It has been suggested that such a view is committed to the idea that objects have temporal parts, and these by definition cannot persist through time.

Citing this article:
Le Poidevin, Robin. Continuants, 1998, doi:10.4324/9780415249126-N009-1. Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Taylor and Francis,
Copyright © 1998-2024 Routledge.

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