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Whimsy

This song is unusual.

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If we take any baby born today (let’s call the individual we pick ‘Baby’), the history of its life has been born at exactly the same time. That history (let’s call it ‘H’) will grow relentlessly from nothing, adding a year to its girth every time Baby ages a year. If Baby eventually dies, at that moment H will reach its greatest size, and it will subsequently remain frozen in that state for the rest of time.

Such histories are clearly entities that inhabit time, because they can change (grow). The interesting thing is this: whatever our theory of how Baby persists through time may be, H has to persist by enduring. It can’t have temporal parts. (See here and here for the jargon.)

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Can we make a meaningful distinction between the purpose of a particular organ or behaviour in the species and its purpose in a particular individual?

For instance, if the species of bear Ursus Schmursus has a special claw for peeling wild onions, is it a consequence of this teleological fact that, for any member B of that species, B’s special claw is for peeling wild onions? (I’m allowing for individuals that don’t have the claw, or are unable to peel onions for other reasons of poor health, as uninteresting exceptions.)

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