One way of understanding the reduplicative formula ‘Christ is, qua God, omniscient, but qua man, limited in knowledge’ is to take the occurrences of the ‘ qua ’ locution as picking out different parts of Christ: a divine part and a human part. But this view of Christ as a composite being runs into paradox when combined with the orthodox understanding of the Incarnation, according to which Christ is identical to the second person of the Trinity. In response, we have (...) to choose between modifying the orthodox understanding, adopting a philosophically and theologically contentious perdurantist account of persistence through time, or rejecting altogether the idea of the composite Christ. (shrink)
Arguing for Atheism introduces a wide range of topics in the philosophy of religion and metaphysics. Robin Le Poidevin does not simply defend a denial of God's existence; he presents instead a way of intepreting religious discourse which allows us to make sense of the role of religion in our spiritual and moral lives. Ideal as a textbook for university courses in the philosophy of religion and metaphysics, Arguing for Atheism is also designed to be accessible, in its style and (...) its numerous explanations, to the general reader. (shrink)
Space and time are the most fundamental features of our experience of the world, and yet they are also the most perplexing. Does time really flow, or is that simply an illusion? Did time have a beginning? What does it mean to say that time has a direction? Does space have boundaries, or is it infinite? Is change really possible? Could space and time exist in the absence of any objects or events? What, in the end, are space and time? (...) Do they really exist, or are they simply the constructions of our minds? Robin Le Poidevin provides a clear, witty, and stimulating introduction to these deep questions and many other mind-boggling puzzles and paradoxes. He gives a vivid sense of the difficulties raised by our ordinary ideas about space and time, but he also gives us the basis to think about these problems independently, avoiding large amounts of jargon and technicality. His book is an invitation to think philosophically rather than a sustained argument for particular conclusions, but Le Poidevin does advance and defend a number of controversial views. He argues, for example, that time does not actually flow, that it is possible for space and time to be both finite and yet be without boundaries, and that causation is the key to an understanding of one of the deepest mysteries of time: its direction. Drawing on a variety of vivid examples from science, history, and literature, Travels in Four Dimensions brings to life some of the most profound questions imaginable. (shrink)
Does chemistry reduce to physics? If this means ‘Can we derive the laws of chemistry from the laws of physics?’, recent discussions suggest that the answer is ‘no’. But sup posing that kind of reduction—‘epistemological reduction’—to be impossible, the thesis of ontological reduction may still be true: that chemical properties are determined by more fundamental properties. However, even this thesis is threatened by some objections to the physicalist programme in the philosophy of mind, objections that generalize to the chemical case. (...) Two objections are discussed: that physicalism is vacuous, and that nothing grounds the asymmetry of dependence which reductionism requires. Although it might seem rather surprising that the philosophy of chemistry is affected by shock waves from debates in the philosophy of mind, these objections show that there is an argumentative gap between, on the one hand, the theoretical connection linking chemical properties with properties at the sub-atomic level, and, on the other, the philosophical thesis of ontological reduction. The aim of this paper is to identify the missing premises (among them a theory of physical possibility) that would bridge this gap. Introduction: missing elements and the mystery of discreteness The refutation of physicalism A combinatorial theory of physical possibilia Combinatorialism and the Bohr model Objections The missing premises and a disanalogy with mind. (shrink)
E. J. Lowe sets out in a recent paper1 to refute McTaggart's proof of the unreality of time, by exposing an ‘indexical fallacy’ in his disproof of the existence of tensed (i. e., A-series) facts.2 Lowe then develops an original account of what makes time the dimension of change, based on his own account of tensed facts. But in our opinion he fails on both counts: (1) he fails to refute McTaggart's perfectly sound disproof of tensed facts, which shows that (...) time can be real only if (Lowe and McTaggart not withstanding) it needs no tensed facts, and (2) he fails to explain the temporal character of change, since his account of it has an exact spatial analogue. In what follows we argue these two points in turn. (shrink)
This book brings together new essays on a major focus of debate in contemporary metaphysics: does time really pass, or is our ordinary experience of time as consisting of past, present, and future an illusion? The international contributors broaden this debate by demonstrating the importance of questions about the nature of time for philosophical issues in ethics, aesthetics, psychology, science, religion, and language.
One way of understanding the reduplicative formula "Christ is, ’qua’ God, omniscient, but ’qua’ man, limited in knowledge" is to take the occurrences of the ‘qua‘ locution as picking out different parts of Christ: a divine part and a human part. But this view of Christ as a composite being runs into paradox when combined with the orthodox understanding of the Incarnation, according to which Christ is identical to the second person of the Trinity. In response, we have to choose (...) between modifying the orthodox understanding, adopting a philosophically and theologically contentious perdurantist account of persistence through time, or rejecting altogether the idea of the composite Christ. (shrink)
According to a plausible and influential account of perceptual knowledge, the truth-makers of beliefs that constitute perceptual knowledge must feature in the causal explanation of how we acquire those beliefs. However, this account runs into difficulties when it tries to accommodate time perception -- specifically perception of order and duration -- since the features we are apparently tracking in such perception are not causal. The central aim of the paper is to solve this epistemological puzzle. Two strategies are examined. The (...) first strategy locates the causal truth-makers within the psychological mechanism underlying time perception, thus treating facts about time order and duration as mind-dependent. This strategy, however, is problematic. The second strategy modifies the causal account of perceptual knowledge to include a non-causal component in the explanation of belief-acquisition, namely chronometric explanation. Applying this much more satisfactory approach to perceptual knowledge of time, we can preserve the mind-independence of order and duration, but not that of time's flow. (shrink)
This volume provides a balanced set of reviews which introduce the central topics in the philosophy of time. This is the first introductory anthology on the subject to appear for many years; the contributors are distinguished, and two of the essays are specially written for this collection. In their introduction, the editors summarize the background to the debate, and show the relevance of issues in the philosophy of time for other branches of philosophy and for science. Contributors include J.M.E. McTaggart, (...) Arthur N. Prior, D.H. Mellor, Sydney Shoemaker, Graeme Forbes, Lawrence Sklar, Michael Dummett, David Lewis, W.H. Newton-Smith, and Anthony Quinton. (shrink)
Photographs, paintings, rigid sculptures: all these provide examples of static images. It is true that they change—photographs fade, paintings darken and sculptures crumble—but what change they undergo is irrelevant to their representational content. A static image is one that represents by virtue of properties which remain largely unchanged throughout its existence. Because of this defining feature, according to a long tradition in aesthetics, a static image can only represent an instantaneous moment, or to be more exact the state of affairs (...) obtaining at that moment'. It cannot represent movement and the passage of time. This traditional view mirrors a much older one in metaphysics: that change is to be conceived of as a series of instantaneous states and hence that an interval of time is composed of extensionless moments. The metaphysical view has been involved in more controversy than its aesthetic counterpart. Aristotle identified it as one of the premises of Zeno's arrow paradox and Augustine employed it in his proof of the unreality of time. (shrink)
Forty years after it first appeared, Sidney Shoemaker's much-read article, "Time without Change" , with its striking thought experiment, still dominates discussions of this intriguing topic. And rightly so: it is imaginative, subtle, and controversial. But times have changed, as they do, and in particular, the epistemological context in which Shoemaker was writing, overshadowed as it was by verificationism, no longer constrains our thinking as once it did. This is the age of bold and unashamedly realist metaphysical argument, in which (...) demands for evidential, as opposed to a priori, support for its theses are rarely made. (shrink)
When philosophers of perception contemplate concrete examples, the tendency is to choose perceptions whose content does not essentially involve time, but concern how things are at the moment they are perceived. This is true whether the cases are veridical (seeing a tree as a tree) or illusory (misperceiving the colour or spatial properties of an object). Less discussed, and arguably more complex and interesting cases do involve time as an essential element: perceiving movement, for example, or perceiving the order and (...) comparative duration of events. And, like other kinds of perception, time perception can involve illusions, such as the puzzling ‘stopped clock’ illusion. I want to suggest that these dynamic cases, and perhaps particularly those involving illusion, make a distinctive contribution to the direct realist/sense datum theory debate over perception, and they undermine a popular argument in favour of the objective passage of time, namely that passage is an ineliminable feature of our temporal experience. (shrink)
A thought experiment invites us to examine our intuitive beliefs about the reality of the past, the reality of the future, and our capacity to affect either, and provides a test of our attitudes towards life. Given an inescapable choice and extraordinary power, would it be our duty to destroy the whole of reality, both past and future?
The question is examined whether the distinction, familiar from other contexts, between egocentric and objective representations can be extended to time. A number of objections to the notion of an objective, or non-perspectival, representation of time are considered and criticised. It is argued, both that we can make sense of such a representation, and that it plays an important role in an understanding of memory. Finally, a connection is drawn between this issue and the debate over the tenseless theory of (...) time. (shrink)
Questions of Time and Tense aims to develop and broaden a central debate in contemporary metaphysics. This debate focuses on questions about the nature of time: does time really pass? That is, do events become present and then recede into the past? Or is our ordinary conception of time, as consisting of an ever-shifting past, present, and future, merely reflective of our perspective on the world? The editor gives an introductory guide to the debate, outlining the development of rival theories. (...) Then an international line-up of authors contribute eleven essays, all but one specially written for this volume, which demonstrate that these questions are intimately connected with issues in other areas of philosophy. The discussion moves through metaphysics, philosophy of mind, philosophy of language, philosophy of science, philosophy of religion, ethics, and aesthetics. (shrink)
Moore characterizes metaphysics as “the most general attempt to make sense of things.” This is not offered as a piece of conceptual analysis, which we might challenge by putative counterexample, but rather as an inclusive organizing principle. Nevertheless, there are ways in which the definition could be helpfully developed, to draw out distinctive aspects of philosophical, and more specifically metaphysical, inquiry, and I offer some suggestions here. The aspects addressed include the appearance of mind-independence in the subject matter of metaphysics, (...) and the importance of critical inquiry. Two concerns are raised about Moore’s inclusion of non-propositional sense-making in his conception of metaphysics: how the notion of generality applies to non-propositional sense-making; and what success-condition in non-propositional sense-making would be the counterpart of truth in propositional sense-making. I end by considering whether, despite the inclusiveness of his characterization, Moore’s view of the real point of doing metaphysics involves commitment to realism about the self. (shrink)
Does a proper understanding of the Atonement -- the restoration of mankind’s relationship with God as a result of Christ’s sacrifice -- require a particular conception of time? It has been suggested that it does, and that the relevant conception is a ”tensed’ or ”dynamic’ one, in which distinctions between past, present and future reflect the objective passage of time. This paper examines two arguments that might be given for that contention, and finds that both may be answered by appeal (...) to the asymmetry of causation. The Atonement leaves us free to think of all times as equally real, as traditionally they are for God. (shrink)
The central doctrine of traditional Christianity, the doctrine of the Incarnation, is that the Second Person of the Trinity lived a human existence on Earth as Jesus Christ for a finite period. In the words of the Nicene Creed, the Son is him who for us men, and for our salvation, came down from heaven, and was incarnate by the Holy Ghost of the Virgin Mary, and was made man.
Could a theory concerning the temporal structure of the universe have any implications for the possibility of a creator? A recent remark by Stephen Hawking suggests that it could. In A Brief History of Time , Hawking writes: The idea that space and time may form a closed surface without boundary … has profound implications for the role of God in the affairs of the universe… So long as the universe had a beginning, we could suppose it had a creator. (...) But if the universe is really completely self-contained, having no boundary or edge, it would have neither beginning nor end: it would simply be. What place, then, for a creator? (shrink)
A familiar problem is here viewed from an unfamiliar angle. The familiar problem is the Euthyphro dilemma: if God wills something because it is good, then goodness is independent of God, so God becomes, morally speaking, de trop. On the other hand, if something is good because God wills it, then, given the absence of constraint on what God may will, moral truths are – counterintuitively – contingent. An examination of the kinds of necessity and possibility at work in this (...) conundrum leads us to the most promising solution: there is a metaphysical connection between God and goodness. What he wills is an expression of his nature. But (and this is the unfamiliar angle), that solution now poses an acute problem for an understanding of the Incarnation. For if God is constitutive of goodness, and Christ is God incarnate, then Christ is constitutive of goodness. But Christ, as a human, is subject to external moral evaluation and obligation, which entails that he is not constitutive of goodness. This metaethical difficulty is not easily met by the usual strategies by which Christ is understood to have two natures. Reflection on our moral relations to our past selves, however, suggests a way forward. (shrink)
Characteristic of metaphysics are general questions of existence, such as ‘Are there numbers?’ This kind of question is the target of Carnap's argument for deflationism, to the effect that general existential questions, if taken at face value, are meaningless. This paper considers deflationism in a theological context, and argues that the question ‘Does God exist?’ can appropriately be grouped with the ‘metaphysical’ questions attacked by Carnap. Deflationism thus has the surprising consequence that the correct approach to theism is that of (...) radical theology. The paper attempts to show why Carnap's argument fails, and why, nevertheless, enough remains of it for us to conclude that God cannot be outside time and space. (shrink)
In the broadest sense of the phrase, there is action at a distance whenever there is a spatial or temporal gap between a cause and its effect. In this sense, it is not at all controversial that there is action at a distance. To cite a few instances: the page a few inches in front of you is impinging on your senses; the Sun is now warming the Earth; we are still living with the consequences of the Second World War. (...) What is controversial is the idea of unmediated action at a distance, where there is both a gap between cause and effect and no intermediate causes and effects to fill it. The three examples just mentioned are cases of action at a distance, certainly, but not, surely, unmediated action at a distance. What we expect to find, in each case, is a spatially and temporally continuous causal series stretching across time and space. (shrink)
The doctrine of the Incarnation faces the following modal challenge: ‘The Son, as God, exists of necessity; Jesus, as man, exists only contingently. Therefore they cannot be one and the same.’ On the face it, the kenotic model, on which the Son gave up some of the divine properties at the Incarnation, cannot help to meet this challenge, since the suggestion that the Son gave up necessary existence implies that the necessity in question was only contingent, and this notion makes (...) no sense. A necessary being is necessarily (and therefore eternally) so. This paper, however, argues that some necessities may appropriately be described as ‘contingent’, being conditional on contingent and mutable circumstances, and that there is a natural understanding of divine necessity on which the Son could give up necessary existence on becoming incarnate. (shrink)