Temporality, anti-being

So if we understand time not through visual metaphors but through auditory ones, we see that time is a way of depending on anti-being. To explain, sight differs from hearing precisely in this: sight does not depend on its anti-field but hearing does. If an animal sees 188 degrees, it has an anti-field of unseen things behind its head of 172 degrees, but sight as such doesn’t depend on this anti-field. If every animal had omni-vision of all 360 degrees, it would not be any less vision. But auditory information is completely different: you can’t hear a melody all at once or hear an animal approach if you heard all his footsteps at once. Hearing depends on the anti-field for its information. This is the difference between the written and the spoken word.

And so what the anti-field is to hearing, some X is to temporal existence. What then do we call X? We’re constrained to call it “anti-being” or the anti-temporal. We aren’t stipulating it, but arguing for it by analogy, and using it to throw light on the riddles of temporal existence.

Notice that we cannot make an a priori identification of the anti-temporal with the past or future. The anti-temporal is logically prior to either presentism or eternalism about time. For presentists, the past and future are clear cases of the anti-temporal field, but we can still allow for this anti-field in eternalism. Eternalism about time must still has to account for the finite existence of things i.e. the fact that a temporal thing can remain the same while being this and not that (not identical to some earlier or later state).  And so we can still make sense of anti-being even while allowing for the real existence of the past.

Ruyer argues that the contingent requires not only God but an anti-God. The Thomistic tradition might see prime matter as fitting this sort of description. It is logically incapable of conveying information, and yet is a pre-condition of a temporal thing being able to convey any information at all. Aristotle himself suggests a unity between matter and time so far as he sees time as essentially tied to corruption. That said, it is a radical revision of the traditional ideas of matter and form to see first matter as a sort of anti-being. The revision is not entirely verbal.


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