According to Peter van Inwagen, visible inanimate objects do not, strictly speaking, exist. In defending this controversial thesis, he offers fresh insights on such topics as personal identity, commonsense belief, existence over time, the phenomenon of vagueness, and the relation between metaphysics and ordinary language.
- Paperback | 288 pages
- 149.86 x 226.06 x 22.86mm | 430.91g
- 16 Nov 1995
- Cornell University Press
- Ithaca, United States
- Revised ed.
Back cover copy
The topic of this book is material objects. Like most interesting concepts, the concept of a material object is one without precise boundaries. A thing is a material object if it occupies space and endures through time and can move about in space (literally move about, unlike a shadow or a wave or a reflection) and has a surface, and has a mass and is made of a certain stuff or stuffs.
"There is much to bee learned from this book. . . . Material Beings is a refreshing example of straight-on, full-speed metaphysics. Van Inwagen goes where his arguments lead him-and they lead him to some remarkable places indeed."-Philosophy and Phenomenological Research "Commonplace things such as hawks and handsaws pose philosophical problems at least as imposing as those presented by abstract objects such as numbers and divine beings. Van Inwagen argues vigorously for the view that our world contains . . . only living organisms, the activity of whose various parts constitute a life and against psychological accounts of personal identity. This gives only a rough idea of the contents of this rich and rewarding book."-Review of Metaphysics "A fascinating, densely argued, and highly original book on the metaphysics of material objects. The objections van Inwagen raises to the standard views on material parthood are not easily answered. Moreover, his examination of the topic of personal identity is a significant contribution to the philosophy of the mind."-Philosophical Review
About Peter Van Inwagen
Peter van Inwagen isJohn Cardinal O'Hara Professor of Philosophy at the University of Notre Dame. He is the author of many books, includingThe Problem of EvilandOntology, Identity, and Modality.