|To:||"[ontolog-forum] " <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>|
|From:||Kathryn Blackmond Laskey <klaskey@xxxxxxx>|
|Date:||Mon, 11 Jun 2007 13:08:55 -0400|
At 12:02 PM -0400 6/11/07, Charles D Turnitsa wrote:when
does a continuant stop being what it is?
On March 20, my father the e-Bay addict woke up as usual, got himself a cup of coffee as usual, sat down to watch C-SPAN as usual, fell asleep as usual, and never woke up. My sister said, "He was still sitting there on the recliner, covered by a sheet, when the Fed-X truck drove up to deliver an All-In-One." That gave us all a chuckle through our tears.
Notice my sister's words: "He was still sitting there..." She didn't say "His body." She said "He." Although the factual content of her utterance is perfectly clear, did my sister say something ontologically incorrect? Did "he" cease to exist when the undertaker took "him" away? Or was "he" the continuant still sitting there when the truck drove up? Does "he" the continuant exist timelessly? Family and friends still often speak of my father in the present tense, as in "He loves chocolate." Should we consider this a slip of the tongue? Or is there a timelessly existing continuant who during his mortal lifespan loved chocolate and e-Bay? What about my the daughter of my unmarried and childless daughter? What about the daughter of my married friend who unsuccessfully attempted fertility treatments? There are many metaphysical positions on the questions I've just raised. There are many linguistic conventions that seem to imply ontological stances that appear to contradict each other.
More to the point of our shared enterprise, should the Ontology Police enforce the illegality of my sister's statement that Dad was still lying on the recliner when the Fed-X truck arrived? Or should we allow her to say what comes naturally, but write our software so that we can understand the perfectly clear factual content of her utterance?
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