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Durham University

Department of Philosophy

Stefano Catelan

Stefano Catelan is a postgraduate researcher.

His primary interest is in the metaphysics of time and persistence. This fits within broader issues concerning metaphysics and ontology, history of science and the philosophy of physics.

Thesis Title:
A Metaphysical Inquiry Into Time and Persistence

Thesis Summary:

A vast amount of material has been written on the topic of persistence in the last two decades, but it all reflects an established mainstream assumption which reduces the whole debate about persistence to a simple opposition between perdurantism and endurantism. Despite the fact that in the late 1990s a new theory of persistence was developed - the stage theory - contemporary debate is still largely based on the endurance/perdurance distinction. My intention will be, first of all, to challenge this mainstream assumption, by arguing that if we wish to account for persistence adequately, it is necessary to abandon that distinction and replace it by another one; and, secondly, to broaden the contemporary debate by drawing two other key philosophical concepts into the heart of it - those of time and substance.

Recall David Lewis's well-known definition of persistence: "Let us say that something persists if, somehow or other, it exists at various times; this is the neutral word."  One thing that immediately strikes one here is Lewis's use of the words "something" and "time". If we accept his definition of persistence, then, it seems that we ought to include a careful consideration of the significance of those terms in the current debate. In fact, however, despite the widespread acceptance of this definition among philosophers working on the subject, the definition itself has not yet been examined sufficiently seriously. Apart from few general remarks in work by Sider, other recent writings on the topic of persistence avoid any serious engagement with questions about time and its nature. Furthermore, practically none of them goes into the question of substance. My contention will be that both of these neglected concepts are indispensable in accounting for the nature of persistence, lying right at its heart. Consequently, they should play a central role in the current debate about it.


Prof. E.J. LoweDr. S.C. Gibb

Research Groups:

Mind, Language and Metaphysics

Metaphysics Reading Group

Conference Papers:

2008 "The Concept of Time";

2006 "E.J. Lowe's Philosophy of Time"

Academic activities:

Managing Editor, Philosophical Writings;

Sub-Editor Arts and Humanities, Kaleidoscope;

Member of SIFA;

Member of RIP


Email Stefano Catelan at stefano.catelan^at^