Peter Abelard on Material Constitution

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Archiv für Geschichte der Philosophie

Ed. by Horn, Christoph / Serck-Hanssen, Camilla

Together with Carriero, John / Meyer, Susan Sauvé

Editorial Board Member: Adamson, Peter / Allen, James V. / Bartuschat, Wolfgang / Curley, Edwin M / Emilsson, Eyjólfur Kjalar / Floyd, Juliet / Förster, Eckart / Frede, Dorothea / Friedman, Michael / Garrett, Don / Grasshoff, Gerd / Irwin, Terence / Kahn, Charles H. / Knuuttila, Simo / Koistinen, Olli / Kraut, Richard / Longuenesse, Béatrice / McCabe, Mary / Pasnau, Robert / Perler, Dominik / Reginster, Bernard / Simmons, Alison / Timmermann, Jens / Trifogli, Cecilia / Weidemann, Hermann / Zöller, Günter


SCImago Journal Rank (SJR) 2014: 0.165
Source Normalized Impact per Paper (SNIP) 2014: 0.417
Impact per Publication (IPP) 2014: 0.081

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Peter Abelard on Material Constitution

1Brooklyn College, The City University of New York, 2900 Bedford Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11210, USA

Citation Information: . Volume 94, Issue 2, Pages 119–146, ISSN (Online) 1613-0650, ISSN (Print) 0003-9101, DOI: 10.1515/agph-2012-0006, October 2012

Publication History

Published Online:
2012-10-25

Abstract: Some scholars have suggested that Peter Abelard has a solution to Allan Gibbard’s famous puzzle concerning a lump of clay and the statue that the clay composes. Although Abelard does not explicitly address an analogue of this puzzle, I claim that an Abelardian solution can be constructed based on principles drawn from his discussions of sameness and difference in his later theological writings. In this study, I first summarize the puzzle and several standard solutions to it. I then present and analyze Abelard’s account of sameness and difference, with special emphasis on his description of the ways in which the matter of a statue is both the same as and different from the statue. I then show how we can reconstruct an Abelardian solution to the problem from these remarks. Finally, I consider whether this Abelardian solution is coherent and plausible. In doing so, I show how the Abelardian solution reveals an underlying tension in Abelard’s later ontology.

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