[ExI] The Reality of Categories (was Next Moment Around You...)

Stathis Papaioannou stathisp at gmail.com
Sun Jul 15 13:10:04 UTC 2007

On 15/07/07, Lee Corbin <lcorbin at rawbw.com> wrote:

> Do you believe that a particular large stone in your garden is the
> same stone it was yesterday?  Now, we know all the facts:  we
> know that the wind dislodged a very, very relatively few molecules
> and that a relatively very few particles also accumulated on its
> surface that did not use to belong to the rock.
> But it is not *merely* a useful belief to say that it is the same rock.
> Because if you cannot say that this rock is "the same rock" as it
> was yesterday, then you are slipping away into nominalism (and
> if that doesn't scare you I don't know what will   :-)
> Categories exist and are real.  And firmly maintaining that the old
> oak tree (before it burned down) was *not* the rock in your garden
> is as ontologically correct as it is to say that the rock in your garden
> that changed only infinitesimally *is* the same rock as it was yesterday.

Only because, by convention, we agree that a few atoms missing and a
very large displacement in space and time are still consistent with
the term "same rock". And it isn't so straightforward if we decide to
destroy the rock and then recreate a copy, or a functionally similar
analogue - whatever that might mean for a rock - as we propose to
someday do with people.

The degree of similarity is only contingently related to the question
of continuity of personal identity. As you have pointed out, it is
usual to be more concerned about what will happen to me tomorrow than
what happened to me yesterday, even though my tomorrow self and my
yesterday self are roughly equivalent in similarity to my today self.

Stathis Papaioannou

More information about the extropy-chat mailing list