more from Joseph Butler

Single Idea 21315

[catalogued under 9. Objects / F. Identity among Objects / 9. Sameness]

Full Idea

When a man swears to the same tree having stood for fifty years in the same place, he means ...not that the tree has been all that time the same in the strict philosophical sense of the word. ...In a loose and popular sense they are said to be the same.

Gist of Idea

A tree remains the same in the popular sense, but not in the strict philosophical sense


Joseph Butler (Analogy of Religion [1736], App.1)

Book Reference

'Personal Identity', ed/tr. Perry,John [University of California 1975], p.100

A Reaction

A helpful distinction which we should hang on. Of course, by the standards of modern physics, nothing is strictly the same from one Planck time to the next. All is flux. So we either drop the word 'same' (for objects) or relax a bit.

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