Can Berkeley's God Raise the Same Body, Transformed?

Abstract

Orthodox Christianity affirms a bodily resurrection of the dead. That is, Christians believe that at some point in the eschatological future, possibly after a period of (conscious or unconscious) disembodied existence, we will once again live and animate our own bodies. However, our bodies will also undergo radical qualitative transformation. This creates a serious problem: how can a body persist across both temporal discontinuity and qualitative transformation? After discussing this problem as it appears in contemporary philosophical literature on the resurrection, I will argue that George Berkeley's immaterialist metaphysics is more successful than either physicalism or dualism in escaping objections to resurrection based on the problem of qualitative transformation. In order to accomplish this, I will first discuss Berkeley's views on the metaphysics of so-called 'ordinary' objects, including human bodies, and then apply this view to the resurrection of the dead, ultimately showing that, for Berkeley, the radical transformation of the body in the resurrection is no more problematic than the case of a straight oar appearing bent when one end is inserted in water.

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Kenneth L. Pearce
James Madison University

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References found in this work

The Compatibility of Materialism and Survival.Dean W. Zimmerman - 1999 - Faith and Philosophy 16 (2):194-212.
Berkeley and bodily resurrection.Marc A. Hight - 2007 - Journal of the History of Philosophy 45 (3):443-458.

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