Four Dimensionalism: Solution to Temporary Intrinsics or Overreaction?

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David Lewis finds a puzzle within the realm of possible objects known as the problem of temporary intrinsics. In our everyday view of objects, contractions arise with their properties. If objects are wholly present (at every moment in time) and contain within them all possible properties, how is it possible that objects, such as an apple, bear contradictory properties (being green and red)? In what follows is a discussion of this problem in detail, as well as, Lewis's perdurance solution. After the presentation of his new ontology, I will explore an objection Thompson believes severely damages the notion of temporal parts.

There are three non-negotiable theses that express some of our most firmly held beliefs and intuitions about the world in regards to persistence. First, no object can contain within it incompatible properties. Second, change involves incompatible properties. And lastly, objects sometimes persist through change. There are three broad approaches that attempt to merge all three theses into one working theory in order to resolve the tension between them. They are: perdurantism, exdurantism, and endurantism. For purposes of this paper I will discuss both perdurantism and endurantism.

Let's look at change more closely. When an object undergoes change, for instance an apple, it goes from one property (being green) to another, incompatible, property (being red). Objects have properties just in virtue of what it is like (the cat is clever) and they have properties that are partly in virtue of what other things are like (the cat is larger than the mouse) (Lewis 204). Objects appear to change from one intrinsic state to another throughout its lifespan. The job of the ontologist is to determine how this is so.

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...it makes one wonder how the stages are really related to one another. That is to say, how is stage t1 identical to t2? While, Lewis does respond saying that they share causal relations (Lewis 218), it seems that four-dimensionalism is not without its worries.

Temporary intrinsics is a worrisome concern when one adopts the ontology of three-dimensionalism. The idea of an object being wholly present when we look at it is our intuition, but when we peer more closely we see a contradiction that emerges. Lewis attempts to resolve this contradiction by developing a whole new ontology that states that time is an analogy for space. While this method does dissolve the worry of temporary intrinsics, it does, however, bring forth more metaphysics concerns about the state of objects. Perhaps, as Thompson has stated, four-dimensionalism is just an overreaction to the problem.

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