Comunicação Internacional
Avicenna on Time and Persistence
Organização:  CFCUL & CIUHCT
Ciências ULisboa
23 / 06 / 2022

One very interesting and peculiar suggestion has been made by Avicenna regarding the way objects are in time. (See McGinnis, J., & Avicenna. (2009, p. 255)). This fascinating suggestion has nonetheless remained quite unheard and unstudied for far too long. Henceforth the aim of this paper is to resuscitate this forgotten idea and investigate more its consequences and inspiring suggestions also with respect to our current debates and metaphysical positions in philosophy of time and persistence through time. It may come up at first glance that Avicenna seems to suggest, as the four-dimensionalist account of persistence through time, that objects that are in time have temporal, or what he calls earlier and later, parts. However, once we analyze it more carefully, we understand that these parts are given by the relation of participation of Platonic descendants. In this case one of the Forms is in fact Time, while motion participate to it. The relation of participation has therefore a special position in Avicenna’s theory. It has the special role of accidentally giving temporal parts to objects that persist through time. This, I claim, has two important consequences. One is that by considering time as a unique Form to which objects participate, we can avoid many of the issues that were in the center of medieval debates. In particular we have here a very early and powerful solution for the problem of the multiplicity of time given by Averroes’ theory but argued also by Roger Bacon and Bonaventure. Finally, the other consequence is that quite uniquely in the literature and in history, Avicenna gives us a theory that can bring together two of the metaphysical account of persistence through time usually considered to be absolutely incompatible, the three- and four- dimensional view of persistence of objects through time.

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