Multiple incarnations and distributed persons

Robin Le Poidevin

in The Metaphysics of the Incarnation

Published in print January 2011 | ISBN: 9780199583164
Published online May 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191725647 | DOI:
Multiple incarnations and distributed persons

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One of the many mysteries surrounding the Christian doctrine of incarnation is the so—called ‘scandal of particularity’: if becoming incarnate was necessary for God to enter into the closest possible union with us, why was the incarnation a unique event, not replicated elsewhere? Brian Hebblethwaite has suggested that the grounds for the uniqueness of the incarnation are metaphysical: God the Son could only be identical to one human being. The purpose of this chapter is to look critically at Hebblethwaite's argument, and suggests that the metaphysics of identity not only need not rule out multiple successive incarnations, but also need not rule out multiple simultaneous incarnations. Various considerations, including the Extended Mind hypothesis, suggest that we can make sense of a distributed person: a single being who occupies different discrete places simultaneously. Metaphysics thus does not provide an answer to the scandal of particularity.

Keywords: scandal of particularity; Brian Hebblethwaite; identity; relative identity; personhood; compositionalism; fission; personal time

Chapter.  6036 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy of Religion

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