Time for Hume's Unchanging Objects

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In his discussion of our idea of time in the Treatise, Hume makes the perplexing claim that unchanging objects cannot be said to endure. While Hume is targeting the Newtonian conception of absolute time, it is not at all clear how his denial that unchanging objects are in time fits with this target. Moreover, Hume diagnoses our belief that unchanging objects endure as the product of a psychological fiction, but his account of this fiction is also riddled with puzzling claims about our experience of unchanging objects. In this paper, we argue that Hume’s claims are a lot less baffling and indeed, much more sophisticated than they appear. We do so by considering his arguments as a response to Locke’s specific approach to the concept of absolute time.



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Miren Boehm
University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee

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