SOPhiA 2018

Salzburgiense Concilium Omnibus Philosophis Analyticis

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Programme - Talk

Berkeley's Temporal Simples - Towards a Subjectivist Theory of Time
(Metaphysics and Ontology, English)

Subjectivist theories of time are commonly disregarded. However, I claim that Berkeley's subjectivist theory of time can be supported by arguing for the existence of temporal simples. Towards this end, Berkeley proposes an argument which, though providing a valid general structure, lacks essential premises. I reconstruct the argument as a reductio argument which shows that the claim that there are no temporal simples leads to absurd consequences and must hence be false. I improve the argument by supplying the essential premises and reconstruct it accordingly as follows:

(1) There are no temporal simples.

(2) Any two ideas are separated by infinitely many moments of time without an idea.

(3) If the mind can exist at moments of time without ideas, the mind exists at infinitely many moments without an idea.

(4) If the mind cannot exist at moments of time without ideas, the mind is annihilated after any idea.

(5) Either the mind can exist at moments of time without ideas or it cannot.

Hence, Berkeley concludes the reductio argument. The assumption of (1) in conjunction with premise (2) leads to the conditionals (3) and (4). According to (5) either the antecedent of (3) or the antecedent of (4) is true. Since (5) is trivially true either the antecedent of (3) or the antecedent of (4) is satisfied. Therefore, the consequent of (3) or the consequent of (4) follows, either leading to an absurdity of which neither can be accepted. Therefore, (1) is false and the claim that there are temporal simples is justified.

Subscribing to Flage's (2001) distinction of archetypes, ontological ectypes and epistemic ectypes, I suggest that temporal simples are best understood as ontological ectypes. Finally, I explore properties of ontological ectypes and demonstrate why they are suitable fundamental components for Berkeley's project. Thus, even though subjectivist theory of time are commonly disregarded, I can provide a starting point for a consistent, subjectivist theory of time.

Chair: Markus Hierl
Time: 14:40-15:10, 12 September 2018 (Wednesday)
Location: SR 1.006

Nick Küspert 
(Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Germany)

Nick Küspert studies at Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin and is currently writing his thesis in which he reconstructs and defends Berkeley's theory of time. His research interests are philosophy of time, contemporary metaphysics and metaphysics in the early modern period as well as analytic feminist philosophy.

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