TO BE IN TIME OR NOT TO BE IN TIME
TEMPORAL AND NONTEMPORAL TRUTH
To say that something did have what it did have,
or that it did not have what it did not have,
and to say that something does have what it does have,
or that it does not have what it does not have,
and to say that something will have what it will have,
or that it will not have what it will not have,
and to say that something has what it has,
or that it has not what it has not,
|[This is a variant and extension of
a classical philosophical dictum.]
We have been talking about things having component parts,
attributes and relations, about wholes having whole-, part- and
pseudo-attributes, and about
catenas having one or more positive
predicates, one neutral predicate and one or more negative predicates.
But what does it mean to say that a certain thing 'has'
or 'does not have' a certain part or predicate, or what do we
suppose when saying this? A thing can have a part or predicate
now without having it in the past or in the future, if its
having is temporal. The relation of having is nontemporal, if
its having this part or predicate in no way depends and can
depend on the moment we look at it or talk about it. This might
be the case with all relations of having in the second domain of
discourse. Things in that domain did not have, do not have and
will not have something in a temporal sense -- so it seems.
At least the predicates catenas have they do not have just now.
Catenas definitely have their component parts in a nontemporal
sense of having.
To have an element in a nontemporal sense is something else
than to have it forever or eternally.
Eternity presupposes temporality, and --it
primary things could have
something eternally, that is, at every moment in the past, now
and at every moment in the future. (Hence, they are certainly not
'timeless' in a strict sense.) When we talk about things having
parts and predicates in an ontological context we consider their
situation from a nontemporal standpoint, but as regards primary
things this does not imply that their having a part or predicate
is itself nontemporal. Everywhere where we say that a primary
thing 'has' a particular part or predicate (without making explicit
that it has that element now), has and have
must be understood to mean did have and/or do(es) have
and/or will have.
Did have, do have and will have correspond
to did exist, do exist and will exist or to
existing in the past, existing now or at present
and existing in the future. One
might wonder whether the fact that every real thing existed,
exists and/or will exist does not mean that it would be
'time-catenal'. The 'time' or
'future catena' concerned would, then, be the whole of
(existing-in-the-)past, (existing-at-)present and (existing-in-the-)future.
Time itself would on such an account be a
quasi-monad identical to the
explicit triad of past (or earlier),
present (or now) and future (or later).
However, the reason that we shall not speak of "a time" or "future
catena" is that it does not make sense to assume that there
are such primary predicates like existing-in-the-past, -present
or -future. It is rather the domain or universe of discourse
itself which is temporal or considered at different moments in
time. Another way of putting it is that it is the relation of
having a certain part or predicate which is temporal. On the
former view a sentient being that is happy, for instance, has
the predicate of happiness in the present domain; on the latter
view it is presently having the predicate of happiness. On
neither view is being happy now a question of having some
primary predicate of 'presentness' in addition to having the
primary predicate of happiness. Yet, this is precisely what one
would suggest by speaking of "a time" or "future catena".
tho the notions
past, present and future are not
catenical, they do form part of a
connected series. The name we shall use for such a series, which functions
in a subsidiary capacity in our ontology, is auxiliary
(series). Auxiliary series like those of past,
present and future and of earlier, at the same
time and later are, then, temporal auxiliaries.
Altho such connected series can be divided into
three subsets of which two appear or seem to be opposed to each
other, they are not connected series of
primary predicates, and
therefore not catenas.