Covers topics in the metaphysics of the Trinity, Incarnation, and personal identity.

Saturday, January 29, 2005

Reply to Bill on Statues and Lumps

I posted this comment in reply to Bill Vallicella's post on Statues and Lumps:

I do think that the claim that each can exist without the other is a defensible claim. If I were to accept (2), I would say that, in this case, just as no form can exist without some or other matter of which it is the form, so no matter can exist without some or other form of which it is the matter. In parallel, I think that if you say that the statue and the lump are numerically distinct from each other, where the lump constitutes the statue, you should also say that, in this case, just as the object that is constituted cannot exist without some or other distinct object that constitutes it, so the object that constitutes cannot exist without some or other distinct object that it constitutes. If so, constituting is essential and being constituted is also essential.

(Perhaps we only call what is constituted a statue if an artisan intentionally brings it about, but there may be a distinct object that the lump constitutes for all that, whether or not it results from an intentional act.)

2. You say that the chariot is not its parts but its parts in a particular arrangement. I see what you mean. However, on the one hand, the chariot is constituted by its parts. There is a partition of the parts of the chariot such that the parts compose the chariot. In this sense, it is true to say that the chariot is its parts. On the other hand, the chariot is neither identical to its parts nor identical to its parts in a particular arrangement. The chariot is one but the parts are many. No one thing is identical to many things. Composition is not numerical identity. In this sense, it is false to say the chariot is its parts in a particular arrangement.Rather you mean that the chariot is constituted by its parts when and only when they are in a particular arrangement. But there will be ship of Theseus problems here. If we repair the chariot bit by bit so that eventually every smallish part is new, but we keep all the old parts and reassemble them, which if any counts as the original chariot: the reassembled one or the repaired one? Nagasena was wise to avoid such problems.