On Change

You make your way to the exhibit on Change. The lights are off and nobody appears to be present. You do, however, see a note. Upon reading it, you learn that the team responsible for this section of the temple is busy preparing for festivities that are planned for tomorrow. The note instructs you to flick a nearby switch and take a seat. Apparently they have prepared a video for their guests.

You decide to make the most of it. After you flick the switch, a nearby screen lights up.

We know from experience that there is Change. This term refers to a unique dimension within Order, one that is characterised by a sort of dynamism or life. This aspect of reality gives us the ability to talk about how things may “become different”. Without Change, it would be impossible for this discussion to progress! We shall see, however, that the way people speak of Change is generally wrong and muddle-headed. For at every point Change is necessarily constrained by inescapable Being. The continuum of our experience must remain complete and inviolate.

That Change is subsumed by Eleatic Being is shown by the fact that we are referencing some aspect of "what-is". Distinction is also necessary, for we must provide Change with a context that accommodates multiple things. The things have multiple arrangements, and their own internal properties or characteristics may be different at different points in the chronology. Change must therefore take its place as one aspect within the broader shape and context of Order.

Beware those who pretend that Change is the chief metaphysical axiom. In their ignorance, they try to present it as an absolute and unrestrained force. Such a model of Change would lead to chaos; change would alter literally everything about reality, eliminating any sense of consistency until it consumes and changes itself into a changeless state. Although we needn't go down such a ridiculous road of reasoning, given the initial incoherence of trying to posit something that is beyond, or somehow exempt from the requirements of, Being.

As I was saying, Change always occurs within a context, and always involves at least two referents or distinctions. Eleatic Being cannot be subordinated to Change, for there is no second referent beyond it that it could "become". The partisans of absolute change, or any model of presentism, can be dismissed the moment one realises that Change is held fast by broader Being.

Many different mechanical accounts of Change have been suggested. Regardless of which practical model we find most convincing, it is clear that the entire flow of time is ontologically present as a complete whole. It is only at the personal level, where we can identify how the details interrelate, that Change becomes recognisable and the relative time-distance may be appreciated. Therefore, what “was”, “is”, and “will be” all necessarily exist in a permanent sense. Change is relative.

Temporal things should be thought of as being spread across the temporal plane or dimension. It is easy to picture an object with three spatial dimensions: the object is "smeared" across its length, width, and height. Time may be described as a dimension, and a temporal object may be depicted as smeared across its section of the chronology.

Take care, though; just like there are problems with divvying up spatial extensions, problems regarding change arise when you carelessly divvy up time. At each particular moment, each identifiable thing is where it is; velocity will only make sense with a broader scope. Similarly, we may find that our division of the continuum lacks a clear unit of metric, resulting in unlimited durations for limited progress. Depending on your reading of the moving rows, it might be unlimited durations on top of unlimited durations. Anyway, we hope you will find the time to visit the team that deals with such puzzles, they love to reveal the issues that arise when one fails to take chronology as a complete whole.

For many, the beauty of Change is that it affords us a context to consider branching "possibilities". Given the ramifications of Eleatic Being, it is not enough to posit a linear progression of time. We want to posit all the potentials we can perceive, constituting a great web of possibility. This array of chronological relationships is beyond our ability to plot out in its entirety, but every particular possibility is necessary in the context of the Whole.

To explain this point further: if one envisions a road that forks left and right, and one assumes that it is possible for a person to travel down either path, then both stories exist. There is an episode where the person takes the left path. There is an episode where the person takes the right path. The person truly stretches down both roads and is present throughout. Any prominence of one episode over another is only significant insofar as we talk of relative parts and the experience of our existence. To explain and understand it all from our relative position is an important topic that is being worked on by the separate team we mentioned earlier, but we also try to incorporate their thought into our own work in this exhibit.

We should appreciate that this discussion of Change represents an important milestone. Our philosophical project is now exploring the framework of a dynamic world. Further, we are mindful of our earlier discoveries, and will not posit ontological creation and destruction. The inclusion of Change breathes life into our model, it brings us closer to a vision of morality, and it will help reveal the answers to many of our greatest concerns as humans. To achieve that and be accepted, it must plausibly accommodate our dynamic experiences of life and choice.

You hear an audible *clunk* as one VHS is swapped out for another.

Continue:

  1. View the Next Screening...
  2. Leave in search of the team dealing with puzzles and consciousness...