Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Why I like perdurantism…

Regular readers might be surprised by this post's title, since I've made it no secret how antagonistic I am to perdurantism (i.e., the metaphysical doctrine that object do not exist wholly at any given time, but are in fact comprised of innumerable time slices for each segment of the spacetime manifold). I have ethical, logical, and metaphysical objections to perdurantism, which I have voiced at FCA in a few posts, but tonight I will voice one thing the theory has going for it in my eyes.

The good thing about perdurantism is that it makes some of the hardest doctrines of Christianity quite reasonable. Note: this does not mean that the latter is so wedded to the former that a disproof of the former entails a rejection of the latter, but it does mean that the authority of the latter might give tremendous metaphysical weight to the former by making "more" intelligible some of the latter. 

Here's an example of the perdurantist-Christian alliance (PCA): if perdurantism is true, not only is Adam literally continuant in all of us, but also no one has ever died. In one swoop, PCA has secured both the literal headship of Adam, and thus the transmission of original injustice to all humans, and the immortality of humans. In the first instance, because Adam is just a "compilation" of his spatiotemporal time-slices, which include all the atoms and subatomic "particles" in any slice, then not all of Adam's atoms have disappeared in the cosmos, and are thus still perduranistically interwoven with all other humans. If at time t, Adam had a physical stature of {t,x,y,z}––which object we shall label A({t,x,y,z})––, then at time t* (say, fifty years later), due to natural growth and muscular development, Adam had a stature of {t*,x*,y*,z*}––the Adam we shall label as A({t*,x*,y*,z*}).

On perdurantism, there is a literal continuity between A({t,x,y,z}) and A({t*,x*,y*,z*}). Just because A({t*,x*,y*,z*})'s bicep's muscular tissues was {x,y,z}mm farther from his humerus than the bicep tissue of A({t,x,y,z}), does not mean they are not members of the same meta-Adam A({t_,x_,y_,z_}). By extension (!), therefore, just because the numerous components of A({t_,x_,y_,z_})'s tissue are now––at time t(p)––farther removed from each other than they were at t or t*, does not mean there is no longer A({t_,x_,y_,z_}). Indeed, it is precisely because A({t_,x_,y_,z_})'s components have "gone into" making his numerous progeny that A({t_,x_,y_,z_}) is still literally a member of our causal nexus. Adam is just as fully present in me as he was in any of his other spatiotemporal configurations (A({t:,x:,y:,z:}). 

Now it is time to make space for the matter (!) of human immortality (HI) under the PCA. Fortunately, from the above, HI falls out quite obviously. If Adam persists in "us" (qua variegated pragmatic configurations of A({t_,x_,y_,z_})), then it follows that each of us (P({t_,x_,y_,z_})) persists throughout the span of the cosmos, despite how dispersed, contracted, agglutinated, or reduced we become. 

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