North Texas Objectivist Society (NTOS) Message Board › Metaphysics: What's the matter with space and time?

Metaphysics: What's the matter with space and time?

Old T.
Group Organizer
Dallas, TX
"... to grasp "motion" you have to grasp a change. A change of what? Of [spatial] relationships among entities. If you see some stationary objects and one object that is moving, you grasp the fact that it is moving by seeing the changed relationship between it and the other objects, and that gives you the concept of "time." At a given moment, let's say it is to the right of the first stationary object, a few minutes later it is to the left, then it passes the next stationary object. It is the progression of the motion that gives you the concept of "time."
"Time," as the widest or parent abstraction of all subsequent and narrower measurements of time, is a change of relationship. You observe that certain relationships are changed, and you form the concept "time."
—Ayn Rand, Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology, Appendix—Axiomatic Concepts (original emphasis)

Prepositions are concepts of relationships, predominantly of spatial or temporal relationships, among existents; they are formed by specifying the relationship and omitting the measurements of the existents and of the space or time involved—e.g., "on", "in", "above, "after," etc.
—Ayn Rand, Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology, Concept-Formation (original emphasis).

Prof. B: I would be completely satisfied on this if you could clarify one more thing for me, which is: why call the universe an entity, rather than simply a collection, since it doesn't act as a whole?
AR: Well, you can't really call it an entity in that sense. I don't think the term applies. The universe is really the sum of everything that exists. It isn't an entity in the sense in which you call a table, a chair, or a man an entity.
Actually, do you know what we can ascribe to the universe as such, apart from scientific discovery? Only those fundamentals that we can grasp about existence. Not in the sense of switching contexts and ascribing particular characteristics to the universe, but we can say: since everything possesses identity, the universe possesses identity. Since everything is finite, the universe is finite. But we can't ascribe space or time or a lot of other things to the universe as a whole.
—Ayn Rand, Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology, Appendix—Entities and Their Makeup

"Space" and "time" only have meaning in regard to the relationships of entities to each other. The universe of entities has no relationship to anything—to any entity that exists—outside or "beyond" the universe of entities. There is no "before" or "after" the existence of the universe. There is no "space" outside or "beyond" the existence of the universe. Existence is the primary axiomatic concept. "Existence exists" is the primary axiom, the axiom on which everything else depends, including the concepts of "space" and "time." Entities are the matter with space and time.
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