Thursday, November 25, 2010

Bodies, Animals, and Minds 10 --- Ockham 2

For Ockham, the fact that my living body and my corpse are so similar implies that they must be the very same body (not different bodies, as Aquinas would say).

This captures another intuition that we have about material objects. When we watch something over a period of time, we assume that if it looks much the same at the beginning and end of that block of time, it must be the same thing.

For instance, a rusty old Jaguar has been sitting in my driveway for the past three years, and it looks much the same now as it did three years ago. I’ve seen it change a little (it’s become more rusty and discolored), but for the most part, it looks very much the same. And I assume that it is, in fact, the very same car. I doubt very much that anybody has stealthily replaced it with another, nearly identical looking car overnight.

We make the same sorts of judgments about most things, including people. We watch our loved ones age, but none of us would think they ever get replaced by nearly identical clones. And the same goes for my corpse. Why would we ever think that it would be a different body from the one that is standing here now? Surely my body survives my death. Or so Ockham would say.


Edward Ockham said...

Do you have any quotes as to what Ockham actually does say? I don't have a copy of the quodlibeta to hand.

JT Paasch said...

At the moment I don't have the text at hand either, but Ockham argues like this: the accidents are exactly the same in the living and dead body, and that couldn't be unless those accidents had the same subject. I can post the actual quote later when I get back to my office.