Survivalism, Corruptionism, and Intermittent Existence in Aquinas

History of Philosophy Quarterly 31 (1):1-19 (2014)

Turner C. Nevitt
University of San Diego
There is an important debate underway concerning Aquinas’s view about the status of persons in the interim period between death and resurrection. According to corruptionists, Aquinas believed that the person ceases to exist at death and only begins to exist again at the resurrection. Survivalists, on the other hand, deny this. According to them, the continued existence of the soul in the interim period between death and resurrection is sufficient for the continued existence of the person. One objection raised by survivalists against corruptionism concerns Aquinas’s supposed rejection of the metaphysical possibility of intermittent or “gappy” existence. In this paper I reply to this objection in defense of corruptionism, arguing that Aquinas explicitly endorses the possibility of intermittent existence, that none of the texts cited against corruptionism in fact prove otherwise, and that Aquinas’s silence about the matter in his discussions of the resurrection can be easily explained.
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