Volume 81, Issue 2, Spring 2007
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.