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Identity Through Time: the Ancient Origins of the Modern Debate

Francesco Ademollo


In this paper I argue for the following conclusions. (1) Some passages in Plato – most notably one in Diotima’s speech in the Symposium – turn out, on close scrutiny, to put forward the view that ordinary sensible particulars are not, strictly speaking, identical through time, but rather consist of a succession of impermanent objects similar to each other. (2) This view is interestingly similar, at least in some respects, to modern and contemporary views held by such authors as Hume, Reid, and Chisholm. (3) This view was ascribed by Plato to several ancient sources. (4) Therefore Aristotle’s claim, in the Categories and elsewhere, that primary substances remain identical through time and change might be intended in opposition to Plato.


Aristotle; Metaphysics; identity; time; Plato; Symposium;

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