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endurance/perdurance


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Clarence Irving Lewis (1883—1964)

Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz (1646—1716) German rationalist philosopher, mathematician, and logician

electress of Hanover Sophia (1630—1714) electress of Hanover, consort of Ernst August

 

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Terminology introduced by the 20th-century Australian philosopher Mark Johnston for an older contrast, and described by David Lewis in The Plurality of Worlds. Something perdures if and only if it persists by having different temporal parts, or stages, at different times, though no one part of it is wholly present at more than one time. It endures if and only if it persists by being wholly present at more than one time. Perdurance corresponds to the way a play is extended in time: Act I is not present when Act II is. The question then is whether it is better to think of ordinary objects as perduring or enduring.

The issue is ancient, in that many philosophers have been tempted to think of the persistence of bodies, especially in motion, as a succession of new entities, or re-creations at different places. Leibniz puts the doctrine especially clearly in a letter to Princess Sophie: ‘the duration of things or the multitude of momentary states is the collection of an infinity of strokes of God, of which each one at each instant is a creation or reproduction of everything, without a continuous passage, narrowly speaking, from one state to the next.’

Subjects: Philosophy.


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