Ontological account of the physical

Succession is understood through parts (not divided parts, just exteriority) and it is the nature of succession that one part cease and another arise. Though the parts of the extended do not have the same ceasing, the one must still be a negation of the other, and the duration – that is, the existence – of the extended is certainly characterized by such continual ceasing of its parts. The existence of extended being is understood to involve non-being essentially- not because pure nothingness enters into its being, but because a.) its existence (as duration) involves continual ceasing to be and b.) its very extended or physical existence requires one part not being the other, and no part of the extension or the extension itself being identical to the very being of the extended.

While non-being does not enter into the composition of the extended or physical, the physical itself is essentially changeable and so requires some internal, essential part that is undetermined. So we divide the undetermined from sheer non-being, as we  do in experience.

Though the physical is self-evident to us – and we are incapable of having a thought without some unbreakable relation to the physical, we can nevertheless know it as it is, and therefore know it as impossible to separate from a train of non-being, and as requiring within its essence something that can only be called a being like a grape can be called wine. In what is higher, beings require this in the order of their activity; in the lower they require it not only in their activity, but in their very essence.


  1. John said,

    September 24, 2010 at 5:18 am

    Is it possible that the word “time” is used for several related phenomena? As an example there might be an aspect of “time” that is an independent axis for arranging objects or an aspect of “time” that is a succession of events. The first might be called “dimensional time” and the second, “becoming”.

    If there is indeed a “dimensional time” then succession would not imply cessation, it would might just mean that “becoming” had occurred.

    It is interesting to speculate on the nature of “becoming”. If you listen to a spoken word you can hear the whole word extended in dimensional time at the lips of the speaker yet the viewing and listening point is at the present instant. Suppose the viewing and listening point were transposed 20 seconds in the future: you would have a different word in your experience that is also distributed in time and space. Indeed, can you be sure that you are not always jumping about from one time to another?

  2. September 24, 2010 at 2:41 pm

    But if the arrangement of things on a dimensional axis were a mode of existence that belongs to them, then what wouldn’t have such a mode of existence? Unemployment, rainfall, sales of sunscreen, etc. would all have their dimensional axis arrangement.

    This post is about succession, and I’m pretty sure I know that I don’t jump around in successions. Obama succeeded Bush, and I don’t jump from the one to the other; the sun hit its apex for me today before it set, etc. You can’t be calling into question whether we know that one has ceased and another has arisen.

  3. John said,

    September 27, 2010 at 8:37 am

    You are right, if dimensional time exists then all objects would have their dimensional axis arrangement but why would this be problematical?

    The point I was making is that spatially arranged objects subtend an angle at my viewing point. This happens in dreams, imaginings and sensory perceptions. Temporally extended objects, such as the words on the radio behind me, also subtend an angle through time at my present viewing/listening point. These words each have successions of parts in the same way as the spatial parts of “1234”, In the spatial case a whole series of numbers is present now and in the temporal case a whole word is present. In both cases there are parts separate from the observation point but they are also present at the observation point now (eg: they are part of a projective geometry).

    Over longer intervals there is a different sort of succession derived from the memories that we can recall.

    I suggested that this description has the drawback that all points along the dimensional time axis are equivalent. The description that you gave escapes this problem but does so by identifying time with succession. This does not explain how you hear whole words extended in time, see movement, how time dilation and length contraction might occur and how electrons and ions can undergo interference with earlier versions of themselves. All of these things might be taken as evidence for dimensional time – is there any evidence for presentism?

    If the duration of an object is identical to “continual ceasing of its parts” then how could an individual know anything except in the next episode of change at which point it could only know it knew anything in the next episode of change….. The model of succession and duration that you are proposing seems to contain a regress.

    If dimensional time exists the regress disappears because the whole of the words “I know” (along with their associations) can be present now, at the listening point, as well as time extended at their locations in space and time so I know I know.

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