Problem of Temporary Intrinsic Essay

Excerpt from Essay :


The Problem of Temporary Intrinsics:

Perundantists and Endurantists

The objective of this study is to examine and explain the problem of temporary intrinsics and the Perdurantist solution to it. This study will answer whether the conflict between a thing being bent simpliciter and the thing only being able to be bent at a time itself is a reason to reject Endurantism in favor of Perdurantism and how if at all, might Perdurantism itself be at odds with the idea that persisting objects are bent simpliciter.

It is the belief of some philosophers that the individual takes up time since they are held to have "different temporal parts at different times." (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, 2010, p.1) The spatial parts would be represented by the feet, nose, and head while temporal part of the individual would be the person as they were yesterday, the person as they are today and the person as they are tomorrow. Possessing different temporal parts would result in the individual existing at different times and how they possess different properties at different times. From this view, the persistence of the individual is likened to "extending through space, it's all a matter of parts." (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, 2010, p.1) This view is rejected by others who hold that the individual "persists through time as a whole" (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, 2010, p.1) The Endurantist point-of-view understands temporal parts to be the individual's parts that are either futurist or historic. Endurantists do hold that the individual does have different spatial parts and at different times and that the individual and the environment exchange molecules.

Perdurantists claim there is a present, historic, and futuristic individual. In the discussion of temporal parts, the problem of temporary intrinics as described by David Lewis, is held as important in the examination. Lewis states that persisting things "change their intrinsic properties. For instance shape: when I sit, I have a bent shape, when I stand I have a straightened shape. Both shapes are temporary intrinsic properties; I have them only some of the time. How is change possible? (1986: 203-4 cited in Wasserman, nd, p.1) There are three solutions recognized in the work of Lewis to the problem of temporary intrinsic. The first solution states that despite a common belief otherwise "shapes are not genuine intrinsic properties. They are disguised relations, which an enduring thing may bear to times." (cited in Wassserman, nd, p.1) The second solution stated by Lewis is that the properties held at the present are the only intrinsic properties that a thing may possess since other times are "like false stories; they are abstract representations, composed out of materials of the present, which represent or misrepresent the way things are." (in Wasserman, nd, p.1) Lewis writes that the third solution is that different shapes and different temporary intrinsic "belong to different things." (in Wasserman, nd, p.1)

Haslanger writes that Lewis did not believe that any of the three solutions he posited made any metaphysical sense and worries that 'a temporary predication does not adequately capture the connection between an object and its intrinsic properties." (p.508) Perdurantism holds that objects persist by "being spread over time just as composite three-dimensional objects are spread out over space…[and] persist, by having temporal parts." (Smith, 2010, p.1)

Theodore Sider defined an instantaneous temporal part as: "X is an instantaneous temporal part of y at instant t=df. (1) x exist at, but only at, t; (2) x is a part of y at t; and (3) x overlaps at t everything that is part of y at t." (2001, p.59) Roderick Chisholm (1971) in his work entitled "Problems of Identity" that the reflection on phenomenal experience reveals that persons do not have temporal parts." (Smith, 2010, p.1) It is maintained by the presentist that only the present is real. Zimmerman writes that the properties of being bent and being straight are not relational but instead the properties are one that the object "can just have" the object is just straight and then it is just bent. The properties bentness and straightness are properties that are not compatible with one another. (Zimmerman, 2005, paraphrased)

Contradiction is avoided, according to Zimmerman, by noting the properties the object has simpliciter are the properties it presently has, even though it 'had' the properties of being straight, this does not conflict with its 'just having' the property of being bent." (2005, p.337) Zimmerman states that everyone involved in the debate desires to make accounting for the potential of actual alteration by making provision of an account of "temporal qualification." (Zimmerman, 2005, p. 338)

The presentists view is such that is reported to (1) express a primitive predication between the object and the pro9perty of being bent. This primitive predication, referred to as having simpliciter is reported to be "paradigmatically instantiated by an object and a property in the present." (Zimmerman, 2005, p. 338) Craig (2000) writes that adoption A- or B- Theory of time "seems to involve commitment to radically different understandings of what it is to be an object or thing." (p. 178) For the endurantist, "…persistent through time consists in an objects existing at several successive times, being wholly present and remaining self-identical at each of those times." (Craig, 2000, p. 178)

The perdurantists holds that the object "does not exist wholly at any one time but is identical with the whole temporally extended entity; for a spatio-temporal object this would be what is marked off as its world line on a spacetime diagram." (Craig, 2000, 178) Pieces of the line are corresponded to the object's temporal parts and these parts are what the object is comprised of. (Craig, 2000, paraphrased) Craig states that perdurantism is referred to as "four-dimensionalism" and perduring objects are referred to as four-dimensional objects. This is held by Craig to be a misnomer since it makes the assumption that "all temporal objects are also spatial objects." (2000, p. 179)

Abstract objects such as propositions are such that have truth-values that change including such as God and angels, which are held to be non-spatial temporal objects. Craig states that the "salient point of perdurantism is that an object is to be regarded as the entire temporally extended whole and the temporal slice of that object at any moment as a temporal part of the object." (Craig, 2000, p. 179) Persistence through time is reported to consist in a temporal extension. (Craig, 2000, p. 179) Lewis states that the properties 'bent and straight' could "at least sometimes be monadic: for instance when they are properties of momentary things. There is no reason in that case to take them a relation to times." (Craig, 2000, p.179)

Lewis states that he wants to know is where have the monadic properties bent and straight gone? Specifically Lewis asks the question of "What have they to do with our new-found bent-at and straight-at relations, and our new found relational properties constructed from these relations?" (2002, p.4) Lewis claims that there is not a reason to claim that a momentary object that is bent stands "in the bent relation to the unique instant at which it exists. The relativizer, again, says that the persisting objects of this world are only bent in the sense that they stand in the bent at relation to different times." (Wasserman, nd, p.4) From this view, no object has a shape simpliciter. The temporary intrinsic properties of things, according to Lewis "do not deserve the name intrinsic properties are genu8ine properties, and a thing can have them simpliciter, without regard to any relationships to anything else." (1999, p.188)

Lewis writes that under the hypothesis of endurance that nothing is left to assign the bentness or straightness as simpliciter. (2002, p.4) While there may be some truth in the intuition of individuals that objects that persist may be bent simpliciter however, this view is not consistent with the view that the relativizer defends because from the view of the theorist "ordinary persisting objects are never bent simpliciter -- they only stand in t3eh bent at in relation to various times." (Wasserman, nd, p. 6) The key to the temporal-parts solution is reported as being "a certain account of intrinsic change." (Brower, nd, p.5) This account is reported to have a structure that is of a specific nature:

(1) there are the temporary intrinsic, properties such as bentness and straightness, which are incompatible and that with respect to which persisting objects change;

(2) there are primary bearers of these properties reported to possess such properties simpliciter; and (3) There are persisting objects themselves which possess these properties only derivatively or by virtue of standing in appropriate relation to their primary bearers." (Brower, nd, p.6)

The structural account of intrinsic change is shown in the following illustration labeled Figure 1.

Figure 1

Structural Account of Intrinsic Change

Source: Brower (nd)

In summary, the question that is addressed in this study is one concerning whether the conflict between a thing being bent simpliciter and…

Sources Used in Document:


Brower, JE (nd) Aristotelian Endurantism: A New Solution to the Problem of Temporary Intrinsics. Retrieved from:

Craig, WL (2000) The Tenseless Theory of Time: A Critical Examination. Analysis. Vol. 294. Retrieved from:

Haslanger, S. (1989) Endurance and Temporary Intrinsics. Analysis 49/3. 119-25. Metaphysics: An Anthology. 2ed. Blackwell Publishing. 2012.

Lewis, D. (1986) On the Plurality of World. Chapter 4 John Wiley & Sons. Metaphysics: An Anthology. 2ed (ed) Jaegwon, Kim; Daniel Z. Korman; and Ernest Sosa. Blackwell Publishing. 2012.

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