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American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly

Volume 81, Issue 2, Spring 2007

Abelard

Andrew Arlig
Pages 209-227

Abelard’s Assault on Everyday Objects

Abelard repeatedly claims that no thing can survive the gain or loss of parts. I outline Abelard’s reasons for holding this controversial position. First, a change of parts compromises the matter of the object. Secondly, a change in matter compromises the form of the object. Given that both elements of an object are compromised by any gain or loss of a part, the object itself is compromised by any such change. An object that appears to survive change is really a series of related, but non-identical, objects. I argue that, for Abelard, this series of objects is not itself an object. Finally, I examine an apparent exception to Abelard’s claim that no thing can survive a gain or loss of parts, and I show that this specific case does not undermine his general thesis.

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