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Death and Nonexistence$
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Palle Yourgrau

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780190247478

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: July 2019

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190247478.001.0001

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The Cloud or the Raindrops?

The Cloud or the Raindrops?

(p.73) IV The Cloud or the Raindrops?
Death and Nonexistence

Palle Yourgrau

Oxford University Press

The birth and death of a person constitute (existential) changes in that individual. This idea is challenged, however, by Thomas Aquinas—supported by Peter Geach—who believes that no change can involve the very existence of the subject of that change. It is argued, however, that Aquinas’s position is indefensible, since it involves denying that before Socrates existed, it was a fact that he didn’t exist. Another challenge, however, arises from the thesis of C. S. Peirce—supported by A. N. Prior—that before Socrates was born, there was not even the possibility of his existence, since possibility is always general, individuality arising only from existence itself. An argument is presented, however, that Peirce’s thesis cannot be accepted. More generally, attention is drawn to the importance of the commonsense notion of individuals.

Keywords:   existential change, possibility, individuals, birth, death, Aquinas, C. S. Peirce, A. N. Prior

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