An Endeavor of New Concept of Being and Non-Being
The aim of this work is to show that the reality is not only the world of being, it is equally the world of non-being. Such an approach, as I think, is not nihilism, on the contrary – it helps to resolve many problems and contradictions confusing the philosophical mind. The reader will not find any citations or references in this work because I tried to bring it closer to Philosophy as it used to be in its early stages and from which it has departed so far nowadays.
From the oldest times, the human being has been trying to assess his place and role in the world, and that is possible in case of meeting two pre-conditions: the first one is cognizing the world, and the second one is cognizing himself.
Elements of philosophical reflexion have been accompanying the human since his genesis. However, the world appears to be endless which makes impossible its full cognition through the consecutive and multilayer cognition of its phenomena. On the other hand, the life of every particular human is limited.
Therefore, the human has been trying to cognize the essence of the world, the basis of its unity rather than the world as a plurality of phenomena or its laws /they are studied by concrete sciences/.
The word Philosophy means aspiration to wisdom in Greek, in other words – it is aimed at the cognition of sense, abstracting from particular phenomena.
One most important characteristic feature of Philosophy is that it seems to resume the culture of one era or another. As a cultural phenomenon, Philosophy is a streaming and developing unity of ideas in which the best ideas of any particular era are concentrated.
Therefore, studying the history of Philosophy, the tendencies of its development gives us an opportunity, besides all, to study the changes and the evolution in the human’s perceptions of the world and of his connection to this world.
At all times, the first and foremost requirement put forth to Philosophy has been its scientific character, so as to say every philosophical system, every theory must be strong, self-sufficient from the scientific point of view, there must not be a place for ambiguity in it, it shall be scientifically grounded. As a rule, any philosophical theory starts from most evident premises, from which with the help of method conclusions are made.
Philosophical systems differ, often they contradict each other, and many philosophical systems were built as a refutation of one or another philosopher’s doctrine.
All the same, every philosophical theory, creating a scientifically grounded image of the unity of the world, pretends to be the only possible Philosophy.
A naïve optimism is typical for the earliest period in the history of Philosophy, in other words – the human is supposed to be subject to whom the surrounding world is given as an object for cognition. The fact that the world exists and is given is out of the question. The human is cognizing everything as it exists, and everything is given so that the human cognize it. The world is subordinated to the human, the world is an object to which the cognitive, transforming and other abilities of the cognizing and active subject are directed.
From that approach the history of Philosophy started, and mainly with that approach it continued till the Modern Age, that approach is in the basis of overwhelming majority of philosophical theories nowadays.
That approach is described very schematically as such: on the one hand, the subject is who is endowed with cognitive and other abilities and who can conduct activities, and on the other hand the world is which is passive, which is cognized by the human, which is cognized completely and is cognizable in principle, and it is a matter of time what part of it is already cognized. The relation human –> world is out of consideration in essence as everything is clear in itself: the human is able in principle to cognize the world, and the world is cognizable by the human in principle.
With this conception, Philosophy has been and, as a matter of fact, could be one thing – metaphysics, in other words – something beyond Physics, a generalization or an endeavor of generalization of Physics through philosophical categories. That name was given to the philosophical work of one of the fathers of metaphysics, Aristotle, and it would probably be impossible to give a more proper name to that Philosophy, though that name was given to it, one may say, by chance.
Metaphysics has its specific categories, its proper initial provisions, method and philosophical system in general.
The most typical and basic of the categories of metaphysics is that of substance, under which something lying at the basis of all the phenomena of the world is suggested, something that remains unchanged in all its variable manifestations.
Substance, according to that view, is the cause of the world. Therefore, the other most important categories are those of cause and effect.
The categories of cause and effect only conditionally, in chronological order are following that of substance, however, logically they are no less or perhaps more important.
Substance is not merely the cause of the world, but it is also that general in which unique things are finding their places and coexist peacefully, it is the genus for all its species.
So this is the essence of any metaphysical system, of course, presented very schematically.
Another category coming from the earliest period of the history of Philosophy, that of being, needs a deeper and thorough study.
Beginning from Xenophanes, the ancient Greek Philosophy is focusing more or less on the category of being, the highest degree of which one can see in Parmenides’ theory. However, the question of being is gradually losing its initial quality as a philosophical question and is turning more and more into a metaphysical one (Plato, Democritus).
‘Being exists, non-being does not exist’, this postulate of the Elean School, seemingly so clear and naïve, is leading to more and more incredible conclusions in case if we strictly follow it.
If everything existing is being, and if everything non-existing or the absence of being is non-being, so the first conclusion is: everything existing is united by being and is one integrated wholeness, nothing else either exists or has place in the world of being.
The second conclusion is: as the non-existing has no place in the world of being, so the existing, belonging to the world of being, cannot be separated by anything because the latter just cannot exist, therefore being is integrated, one, ‘monolithic’.
The third conclusion is: as being is monolithic, therefore any movement from its one point to the other is not possible because any movement can take place only through an empty, ‘non-beingal’ space separating the things of being, a space that does not exist simply because it does not belong to the world of being.
The fourth conclusion is: as being is united and immobile, no change from one condition to the other, therefore no genesis and destruction are possible.
The fifth and general conclusion is: nothing else but being exists, being is one, united, immobile, eternal.
From this, the Eleans make the last desperate endeavor of justifying the result of their own logic: two worlds are existing from which the first one is the real world, being, which is united, immobile and eternal, and the second one is the world of opinion which is moving, changing, originating and vanishing.
As a last feature, they attach to this real world the shape of a sphere in order to ensure its absolute homogeneity.
Here, the ancient Greeks encounter their first serious trial, the problem of movement. What is that movement which actually has no place in the world of being? And here is Zeno of Elea with his aporias: Aquiles cannot reach the tortoise because after his getting to any point the tortoise has some more progress, however slight, and the arrow cannot be and not be at the same point. Movement, Zeno says, exists, but it is impossible to think it, it has no place in thinking.
This trial, if we are fair, is not just the Greeks’ but it is appropriate to the human thinking in general. The Greeks were just the first to encounter it and represent it in its most exposed, innocent and simple shape, and afterwards all the human thinking has done has been offering ways of avoiding and not overcoming it.
For example, two great Greeks, following the Elean School, Plato and Democritus, turned the Eleans’ being into substance, the basis of the world. Plato turned being into the dialectic of ideas and, actually, the real world – being of the Eleans became Plato’s world of ideas where the relation of the categories of being and non-being gave the birth to the system of the rest of categories, a scheme which is the divine outline of our deficient world.
The atomists found another way out: they turned being into atom with the same attributes as the Eleans’ being, united, inseparable, eternal, immobile in itself. Atoms are moving in non-being, emptiness, are colliding with each other and parting, creating and destroying the things of the material world. The logical contradiction seems to have been overcome thanks to the introduction of the idea of lots of united and eternal beings, atoms, moving in non-being, emptiness. But it only seems because the question if these numerous atoms are connected by a common being and if the emptiness is connected to them by the same being remains opened. Even in case of giving all the possible answers to this question we are thrown to the same point from which the Eleans had started their reasoning.
So let’s mention once again the conclusions at which arrived the Eleans developing the category of being and which remains an insoluble paradox now as well:
If all the things in the world are connected by being, so as to say by the fact of common existence, so it is not possible to explain either the plurality of the world or the movement and the emergence and disappearance of things.
The grounds of subjective idealism are lying in the understanding of being and its category.
Let’s consider any of paradoxes of the ancient skeptics always keeping in mind the presumption that the category of being as the top category of the traditional Philosophy is lying at its basis, and let’s try to test that hypothesis.
When is a pile stopping to exist? In case of considering the matter from the above-mentioned point of view we will see that the very existence, the being of the pile is questioned. When, from which barley grain is the pile starting to exist? Does the pile exist or is it a conditional name given by the human to an indefinite number of barley grains? And if the very existence of the pile is under the question, what can one say about the start or the end of its existence?
The same can be asserted on Zeno’s aporias. If an object is in a point given, how can it, at the same time, not be in that point, in order to movement become possible? They say that Zeno did not deny movement, that he denied that movement could be thought. In other words, movement is in contradiction with the laws of logic, those of human thinking. But where are the laws of logic and human thinking from? What does the law of identity mean, according to which a thing cannot at the same time be and not be itself. What thing is the talk about, a mental one or one existing in reality? Of course the latter, therefore, the above-mentioned assertion is either absurd or it is to be understood as such:
The laws of logic, human thinking reflect the surrounding world, and however do not reflect everything in the surrounding world, and movement in particular.
Causal connection, too, is unequivocal only at the first sight. In case of considering it from the point of view of being, the following becomes clear: the phenomenon pretending to be the result is not both in the phenomenon considered the main cause and even in the endless chain of causes, it is a completely new phenomenon as if it is coming from non-being. However many may be the causes, a thing cannot emerge from its existence, it emerges from its absence or non-being.
So, the problem of the relation of being and non-being, nothingness, as we see, is lying at the basis of a range of problems seeming insoluble to the traditional Philosophy.
Immanuel Kant, showing in his theory that the reflection of the surrounding world was conditioned not only by the reflected material but also by the a priori forms of sensuality, mind and reason, defined the limits the human cognition was able to reach.
The a priori forms of sensuality are space and time, those of mind are pure concepts or categories, and those of reason are ideas.
The human cognition is changing the world, the world, ‘thing in itself’, noumenon, is presenting itself to the human as phenomenon, ‘thing for us’, and a limit is drawn between the human cognition and the world that cannot be broken at any time and by any means.
Kant is often blamed for agnosticism, but such accusations are unfair. Kant does not deny the potential of the human cognition, he denies only the possibility of the cognition of the world ‘in itself’, because in order to cognize the world ‘in itself’ the human has to ‘get out’ of himself, which is not possible. It is not excluded that the world is cognized by the human as it exists, but ‘is not excluded’ is not a ground for scientific assertion. As long as the human does not get out of possibilities offered by his cognitive capabilities, his cognition can go forward infinitely. And this is not agnosticism.
Kant is avoiding a deep analysis of the category of being, giving it almost no place in his theory. And however, if there are the ‘thing in itself’ and ‘thing for us’, so can’t we assert that the categories of ‘being itself’ and ‘being for us’ do not have the same content? In other words, is not being, from which the human starts any act of cognition, such an a priori form of thinking or perception as space, time etc. are? In Kant’s theory, the existence, being of the surrounding world is out of the question, and its cognition is the matter.
Kant does not raise the question that if the human thinking puts space, time, causation etc. into the world, so can’t we suppose that the human the same way imparts being to the world from which the latter is deprived, in any event, from the point of view of human understanding of being?
The matter is that being had only ontological meaning in the thinking of the time, and those philosophers whose theories were built on the basis of gnoseology, and among them Kant, too, simply were neglecting that category considering it a result of speculative thinking.
Reducing the philosophical range of problems to the gnoceology, Kant, as a matter of fact, raised the question of cognizability or incognizability of the world in principle, which provided the gnoseological optimists with grounds to criticize him. Those alleged that human thinking, although finite and limited in its every stage, is cognizing, all the same, another part of infinite, and therefore the world is cognizable in principle. In other words, Kant’s ‘thing in itself’ and ‘thing for us’ have one common thing which makes the ‘thing in itself’ and the ‘thing for us’ cognizable in principle, and this common thing, should it be said or no, should it be realized or no, is the very being.
Theories with the human and his problems in their focus began emerging one after the other from the second half of the 19th century.
Realizing (perhaps rather intuitively) the close connection of the being of the surrounding world with the being of the human, live nature, in a sense that without the latter the discovery and cognition of the former is simply impossible, the representatives of philosophy of life saw that very life on the basis of the world and phenomena connected with it and derivative from it. Shopenhower considered the world as will and imagination, Nietzsche saw the will to power on the basis of the world and Bergson saw as such the creative evolution.
Although philosophy of life did not give answers to the key problems of the traditional philosophy, all the same it was a big step forward in a sense that it saw finally a connection between the human’s being and the being of the world, understanding that while the former was conditioned by the latter genetically, the latter, in its turn, was conditioned by the former logically. Should not be life, then should not be perception of the world, understanding of the world, cognition of the world, and therefore the very existence of the world would be questioned. Also, life is in the basis of the development of the world, because lifeless nature is developing toward live nature, the latter – toward more developed forms of life, the latters are developing and at the end human communities, cultures are emerging which as well have their lives – birth, childhood, youth, old age and death (Spengler).
So, according to philosophy of life, life – an irrational principle that the categories of the traditional Philosophy, as well as the instruments of logic are not able to describe – is the fundamental principle of the world.
The irrationality of the concept of life means that it is impossible to embrace the basis of the world in a system of the traditional Philosophy or to make it subject of any science, in particular.
However, the deviation from the problems of the traditional Philosophy is as much the deficiency of philosophy of life as it is its advantage. After all, can it be called Philosophy at all, if it does not address the traditional questions of Philosophy and rejects the system of categories of the traditional Philosophy?
The birth of existentialism was the next huge, revolutionary step in the history of Philosophy. This theory laid at the axis of Philosophy the being of a concrete human, as a mode of being (existentia, existence) when the existing raises the question of being, turns to the outside of himself, to the surrounding world. In his fundamental ontology, Heidegger rightfully raises the question how it is possible to make the sense of being in general a subject of consideration without clarifying the sense of being of the only being able to raise the question of being, i.e. the being of a concrete human. Existentialism is against representing the connection between the human and the world as a relation between subject and object, because a concrete human being, existence, is not out of the world, but it is thrown into the world by its very constitution. Intentionality, one of the most important categories of existentialism, adopted by the latter from Husserl’s phenomenology, means directivity of human mind toward…, so as to say there cannot be human being without the world, the human must necessarily have his world, where he is being oriented by ‘placing’ the things in space, having time as horizon. Space and time have a subjective and not objective meaning for the human. The being of a concrete human is finite in space as well as in time, it is spatial and temporal.
The human being, Heidegger says, understands the being of the surrounding world ascending from himself, and therefore any ontology must be fundamental, i.e. the being of a concrete human, its mode and sense must be studied first of all, and then the surrounding world, if only, of course, that is possible.
As fundamental ontology must differ from the traditional Philosophy, its method, too, must differ from the methods of the traditional Philosophy. Heidegger sees hermeneutics as such a method.
This-being or the presence or, in Heidegger’s term, Dasein, from which the true, according to Heidegger, ontology starts and with which it ends, understands itself as being as well as the being of the surrounding world and things. That understanding is not a scientific cognition and anticipates it. Starting from this point, however, Heidegger, at the end, reduces all the world, surrounding Dasein, to a whole hierarchy of perceptions by Dasein and neither answers nor even tries to answer the question to which any ontology, in the philosophical sense of the word, is supposed to be directed.
Hermeneutics, regardless of the usage of the term, has been present in any and every kind of philosophical system. In all these systems an element of pre-scientific understanding is present, and Descartes’ cogito ergo sum is one of the most obvious instances of it.
Moreover, hermeneutics and not a scientific method is on the basis of the laws of formal logic because it is impossible to deduce them scientifically.
In general, when we are reading any philosopher’s work, we are not deducing the sequence of his thoughts as we would be doing in case of a physicist’s work, but we are understanding it.
Any philosopher, moving in some direction in his theory, is going through a certain hermeneutical experience, focusing on that and not another side of the surrounding world, selecting that and not another phenomenon as a starting point for his philosophical system.
So, the history of Philosophy should be studied as an hermeneutical experience through which mankind has passed and inevitably should have passed.
The human being has passed through certain phases of the understanding of the world which can be discovered perhaps with the help of analysis of the hermeneutical experience of this-being or Dasein.
This-being is the being understanding itself as being.
The verb to understand is used here in its hermeneutical, pre-cognitive and pre-scientific meaning.
Understanding itself as being is a certain intuitive act when this-being is understanding something opened before it, is understanding it without its cognition, clarification or substantiation. ‘Am’, this is the sense of this understanding, but without words. Words vary in different languages, but this-being’s understanding of itself is common.
This-being can understand and is understanding itself as being only in the neighborhood of its denial. Be that space or vacuum, the surrounding world or some conventional sphere in which this-being has emerged, it is something that is not this-being itself, and is necessary for the latter to understand itself as being.
It is impossible to say whether those surroundings are or are not out of this-being’s understanding, because only itself as being is accessible for this-being. Saying ‘is’ we mean the being understood by this-being.
The surroundings in which this-being is must be spatial as well as temporal. These two have their source in this-being’s understanding of being, and once again we cannot say if they exist out of this-being’s understanding.
This-being is finite both in spatial and temporal aspects. It is not everywhere and is not always, it is always limited by space and time.
This is not only a fact but also an imperative having its source in this-being, which itself, having its beginning and end in space and time, is understanding itself as being in certain material and temporal surroundings which has started with it and will end by its end. Time is connecting this-being’s beginning to its end.
Having found itself in the world, this-being is discovering things and phenomena. Both the formers and the latters are presenting themselves to this-being in space and during time and are succeeding in space and during time.
Before dealing with them, this-being is attributing being to them, and it is doing so not consciously but out of its beingal structure, because it can deal only with being.
Understanding the being of a thing which, as the existentialists say, is opened before this-being, this-being is perceiving that as an unconditional truth.
Truth, in this, hermeneutical meaning of the word, completely differs from its metaphysical, gnoseological conception. While in a metaphysical gnoceology truth is reached either through rational thinking or senses or finally is innate, the hermeneutical perception of truth suggests that truth is the result of an act of this-being’s understanding of another being, different from itself, and never the result of a cognitive act.
This-being, getting out of itself, finds in its surroundings the other which is in this-being’s neighborhood and thus already presents itself as being.
The fact that this-being is recognizing, understanding another being is not contradictory as long as it has not reached the sphere of cognition.
There is no doubt, for example, that the table before me is vested with being and therefore is a single thing, because other tables have other being.
However, already at the next stage of its meeting with things, this-being is understanding some connection, relationship between them, as a result of which those things are changing in its understanding and turning into other things: the table, for example, is turning into an accessory of furniture, the tree – into a so called unit of wood, etc.
Only the being of others as well as representatives of fauna, as a single, unique being, is out of question for this-being because it is seeing an identity in the formers and analogy in the latters with itself, in a sense of experiencing its own being.
In all other cases this-being is falling into confusion because it is not clear for it whether to attribute being to single things or to their groups.
And here, this-being’s cognitive abilities come to its help, and with this help this-being has built the huge system of categories, concepts and relations known to us as science.
It is not difficult to make sure, however, that everything is clear to a degree of naivety in the world that has not yet been turned into an object for the subject, i.e. everything discovered by this-being at a concrete time and in a concrete place is vested with being.
Nor is it difficult to make sure that classification of things into single, general, universal etc., takes place only when this-being is classifying them using its cognitive abilities.
Space is perceived in metaphysics as some storage where things are placed and all the events are taking place.
Time is perceived in metaphysics as a certain non-material flow during which the events of the world are following or anticipating each other.
Kant was the first to undermine the fundaments of the metaphysical perception of space and time, showing that space and time are subjective and not objective phenomena, they are a priori forms of sensuality.
Let’s now try to analyze the hermeneutical aspects of the understanding of space and time by this-being, i.e. their understanding from the point of view of this-being’s beingal structure.
Understanding itself as being in certain circumstances, this-being is doing it in two, let’s say, projections – toward outside and toward inside. Directing itself to the outside, this-being is finding itself in space, in the neighborhood of material or materialized mental things. Directing itself to the inside, this-being is finding itself between the past and the future, is recalling the past and is building plans for the future. Space and time, meanwhile, are mutually connected, i.e. things surrounding this-being are succeeding during time, and this-being can perceive its passage from the past to the future only through changes in its experience of relation with the surrounding world. Otherwise, such a passage would simply be impossible because of the absence of content.
Space and time are presenting themselves to this-being [beginningless and] endless because this-being is discovering that its surroundings or, in other words, the world has been existing also before its, this-being’s emergence, and will be existing also after its, this-being’s end, and there is no beginning and end to that world in space, too.
Space and time seem endless to this-being also during its existence, i.e. in every situation it is conscious of the fact that there have been preceding and there will be following situations in time as well as in space, and there will never be an end to them, even after its end or somewhere where it is absent.
However, space and time, together with their endlessness, are presenting themselves to this-being also as finite when this-being is dealing with the being of any concrete thing or process, being in a sense in which it is understood by this-being.
In other words, space and time are presenting themselves as finite in cases when they are characterizing the being of any thing surrounding this-being or existing in it, including its genesis, existence and end. We must underline that development has no place here because in case of development and movement, space and time are presenting themselves as continuous.
This contradiction serves as a reason for the hermeneutical concept of the absolute space and absolute time to emerge to this-being, i.e. this-being supposes that the contradiction between endlessness and finiteness is resolved in a certain absoluteness where space and time are abstracting from the plurality of concrete phenomena and come forward in their pure forms.
This-being is opened in a certain horizon toward the past and the future, therefore the point where it is in time, one can suggest, is the present.
The past is the part of the temporal flow left behind, which this-being can only recall, the already not-now, i.e., from this-being’s point of view, already non-being.
The future is the part of the temporal flow which is before this-being, which this-being has yet to reach and which it can just imagine, the not-yet-now, i.e., from this-being’s point of view, not-yet-being or non-being yet.
From this simple truths another one should come out, one can imagine, that the present, in its turn, is the experienced part of the temporal flow, the one in which this-being is finding itself just now, now, i.e. from this-being’s point of view, being.
All the same, the understanding of the present is mutually conditioned by the understanding of the past and the future. As this-being is opened in the horizon of the past and the future, it is understanding the present just between these two, as now between already-not-now and not-yet-now.
Splitting the past, the present and the future periods of time, for example, into past year, this year, next year, past month, this month, next month, yesterday, today, tomorrow, one hour before, this hour, next hour, one minute before, this minute and next minute, this-being finally encounters the phenomenon of the instant.
Having from its experience the understanding of the present which is accompanying it during all its existence, this-being is searching for the present, the instant in the temporal flow, free of the past and the future, pure, and however, just at the moment when it has apparently chased the instant, the latter is not present already, but is past. The seemingly trifling bridge between the past and the future suddenly turns into a huge and impassable abyss jumping over which is an unsolvable problem for this-being, as its own experience affirms.
Given this, the instant turns into such and even more non-being as the past and the future are.
It is a big mistake to mix the present with the instant because the present is the situation in which this-being is finding itself, meanwhile the instant is the absolutized present, the ‘atom’ of the present and time in general.
When this-being asserts that being exists it means the present in its first sense and not that of the instant, because this-being is starting from its own being which is always present for it. However, one must not make assertions on being in general with such an understanding of the present, because that present in the sense of the instant is always past already or is not present yet, when asserting that being exists means asserting that being for this instant.
Living between two modi of time, the past and the future, this-being is perceiving time as one having no beginning and no end. This-being is discovering an millennial history or pre-history before its emergence, and its experience is hinting, too, that there will be no end of time after this-being’s end as well.
Simultaneously, this-being is not finding that endlessness of time in things surrounding it because these also, as this-being itself, are emerging and disappearing, moving from one state to the other, etc.
Therefore, endlessness of time is at the same time given and not given to this-being through experience: on the one hand, it is thrown into time presenting itself as endless, of which neither the beginning nor the end can be experienced by this-being, and on the other hand, this-being is finite itself and is surrounded by finite things which have beginning, course and end.
All this is prompting this-being that if time is endless, that endlessness cannot be found in the being of finite things.
Consequently, this-being is looking for the basis, proof of that endlessness in time experienced by itself, and is understanding that the endless flow of time cannot pretend to that.
And here this-being applies to the help of eternity, differentiating it from endlessness: while the former is an endless flow of time to which this-being, as finite, cannot communicate, the latter is the ideal, absolute attribute of time, referred to it by this-being searching for its basis inside itself and in its surroundings.
Eternity, as imagined by this-being, is not the endless flow of time, but on the contrary, it is the never flowing, stopped time which is above the flowing time and is supposed to be the pure, absolute time.
But as we have shown above, there is no present without the past and the future for this-being, this-being can only suppose the pure present, absolute present in the shape of instant which, as we have said, cannot be detected through this-being’s experience.
We can assert, therefore, that eternity, as imagined by this-being, and the instant, as imagined by this-being, coincide. And this, in its turn, suggests that eternity is as much non-being as the instant is.
The analysis of this-being’s understanding of the point is no less important as it is directly or indirectly present in all judgements of this-being relating to space.
Both in Geometry and Physics, the point is used to designate the unit of space.
As the instant in case of time, the point is understood by this-being in two ways.
The first one is the point which can be drew on paper and which one can see, for example, following by eyes a sailing ship or a flying plane. Such an understanding is analogical to that of the present in case of time.
The second understanding of the point is only an abstraction because this-being can never encounter such points: that is the point in its geometrical, physical and finally metaphysical sense, when this-being is supposing that splitting of space and spatial things is leading, at the end, to an inseparable unit. Space, consequently, is being imagined as an infinite set of points.
But the point in that sense is as elusive for this-being as the instant in case of time is. And being, on the one hand, the result of the spatiality of this-being, the point, on the other hand, is as much unreachable for this-being, because in continuousness of space, this-being cannot tell where any point is ending and another is starting.
Therefore, the point is non-being in its metaphysical aspect.
Space, in its turn, is presenting itself to this-being as endless and unlimited. Finding itself in spatial surroundings, amid spatial things, this-being is not finding a beginning or an end to that space.
But endlessness of space is not only a fact but also a certain inevitability dictated by this-being’s beingal structure, because of which this-being cannot encounter a beginning or an end to space as this-being is thrown into that space initially.
Endlessness of space, too, is supposed by this-being in two ways: as an endless succession of limited things and as an absolute infinity stripped of any manifestation of finiteness.
While this-being’s experience can hint nothing about limitlessness of space, however it can hint much enough about infinity of space which is given in that experience.
This-being encounters things that can at the same time be limited by other things and be infinite in force of impossibility to detect their beginning and end. Round and spherical things, in particular, are among them. Such things are helping this-being to imagine simultaneous infinity and limitedness, and they are prompting this-being to the idea that the absolute and infinite space should be imagined as something analogical to circle, ring and sphere deprived any limitation, in other words, something like a circle, ring or sphere without a center, radius and points, in which the center and all the points coincide.
There is something in this-being’s mind that may remind him of such circle, ring or sphere, and this thing is the point in its absolute meaning.
And infinity of space, therefore, is as much non-being as the point is.
This-being is starting its judgement about itself and the surrounding world from being.
Understanding the being of any thing means accepting the fact that the thing exists, is.
Finding itself in the world, this-being is finding other things and phenomena in that world as well, from which it is understanding that they exist, are, too.
But this-being is understanding also that the things and phenomena which are at a given time and in a given place, or were at any time in the given or another place, or will be at any moment in the future in the given or another place, are temporary.
At the same time, this-being is understanding being as permanent and not temporary reality because it has neither the experience of its own beginning nor that of its own end. Moreover, out of its own beingal structure, this-being cannot even understand any different being, although knows that it did not exist some time and will not exist some time.
This-being is understanding also that the surrounding world in which it has found itself, has been before it and always seems to overrun it, is creating a certain horizon for its future activity. Meanwhile, finite things are always limited, changing, emerging and ending.
This contradiction is resolved by this-being through introduction of the idea of the real being, unlike the illusory one.
The Eleans’ category of being, from the introduction of which thousands of years have passed, is the key category of metaphysics up to date.
The real being is eternal while the illusory one is temporary and changing, the real being is infinite while the illusory one is finite and limited, the real being is immobile while the illusory one is always in movement, Parmenides said.
In what we are interested here is what that being in general is and whether we can assert that it is at all.
This-being is not finding such a being in its surroundings, everything is flowing and changing there. In search of being, this-being is encountering various temporary things and phenomena with regard to which this-being cannot assert the attributes of eternity and infinity, allegedly inherent in being in its metaphysical sense.
Understanding the surrounding world out of its own being, this-being is then absolutizing its own being, is suggesting absolute being which, according to it, is eternal in time and infinite in space, which includes all existing and which remains immobile and unchangeable in continuous changes, emergence and destruction of all its manifestations.
Depending on whether any metaphysics is materialistic or idealistic, that absolute being is given either the shape of material world, that of matter as substance, or the shape of the world of ideas, that of idea as substance.
However, this-being has no right to ascribe to such being two of the above-mentioned attributes because, as it has been shown above, they are in fact non-being for this-being.
The next most important attribute attached by this-being to the absolute being is unchangeability.
This-being knows out of its own experience that movement and change are inherent in it as being finding itself in time and space, and that any bearer of movement and change is immobile and unchangeable being, in the given case – itself.
Although change is questioning more than movement the stability and unchangeability of its bearer, all the same, it is being perceived by this-being as a state ascribed to a certain stable and unchangeable being.
This-being has no other experience of movement and change except the one when bearers of movement and change are remaining themselves unchangeable and immobile.
This very conception, as well as the idea of eternity and infinity of being, are on the basis of the concept of unchangeability and immobility of being.
Here, however, a problem comes out when this-being is encountering such a movement and change as a result of which the being of a thing or phenomenon is ceasing, or that of another thing or phenomenon is emerging.
This-being has not that experience with regard to its own being, and encountering such a fact in the surrounding world is incomprehensible from the point of view of understanding of being, and that fact can present itself to this-being as emergence of being from non-being and the contrary – transition from being to non-being.
A deeper analysis of movement and change can lead this-being to another conclusion, too – that any movement assumes at the same time both being and non-being. In case of movement that means simultaneous being and non-being in the same point, in case of change – being and non being the same concrete thing. And the mutual follow-up of being and non-being either is starting with the emergence of a given thing or is finishing with its end.
That contradiction is lying, in particular, at the basis of Zeno of Elea’s aporias, and that contradiction is prompting this-being to the idea of the immobility and unchangeability of the real, absolute being.
Hence, while this-being itself and things surrounding it are moving and changing, thrown into space and time, the absolute being, being in general should be immobile, in the absolute space and time.
However, as we have shown above, this-being has no right to attribute eternity and infinity to being, nor has it apparently such a right in the aspect of attributing immobility and unchangeability to being.
Movement or change, as we have mentioned above, is transition from one state to another, during which any thing or phenomenon is either acquiring, or maintaining, or losing being.
In order to explain that process, this-being is applying to the help of causation, which suggests that every change or movement has its cause, and similarly, things, phenomena etc. have their causes.
This-being is prompted to such an explanation by its own experience, as its every action is conditioned, or at least it is convinced that its every action is conditioned by some cause, and the cause of causes is this-being itself.
Expanding determinism on the surrounding world, this-being is trying to explain everything with its help, and even if it fails to indicate the cause of any thing or phenomenon, then the argument is that that cause has not been identified so far.
It is impossible to underestimate the role of deterministic thinking in genesis and development of concrete sciences, such thinking has a key role also in metaphysics, but determinism has little to give in the aspect of resolving the primary philosophical problems, which was shown at the time by Hume, Kant and other great philosophers.
The matter is that causation has to do, first of all, with general, while single is dealt by it only as particular manifestation of general.
Nevertheless, as we have shown above, finding itself in the world, this-being is meeting, first of all, if not only, with the being of singular things, from the point of view of understanding which causation has little to do.
From the point of view of being, causal connection means that any cause imparts to some thing or phenomenon being that is not in it, something that this-being is not able to understand.
Up to now, this-being has seen two ways out of that contradiction, of which the first one is to advance consistently toward determinism and to reach the cause of causes, the absolute being, God, ideal or material substance, and the second one is to go consistently inverse and not to search any cause, first of all, in this-being, and then in any other thing or phenomenon of the world.
It is obvious, as we think, that being, even the absolute one, cannot be the cause of this-being and things and phenomena of the world surrounding it: causation is from another sphere, that of concrete sciences or metaphysics, which, as we are certain, has little to do with this-being’s understanding of being.
The main conclusion from all the above stated can be that it is a mistake to reduce the reality to being, and that non-being is as much reality as being.
As it became clear, this-being, finding itself in the world and encountering things and phenomena, supposes their being, in analogy with its own being. Such a being, however, cannot be considered a being independent of this-being, it is a being for this-being, ‘being for us’.
As Kant was differentiating the ‘thing in itself’ from the ‘thing for us’, we, too, can differentiate the ‘being itself’ from the ‘being for us’.
Discovering in every thing and phenomenon, in the surrounding world the ‘being for it’, this-being, however, cannot reach the ‘being in itself’ despite his great desire.
Under ‘being’ this-being should and can understand, first of all, the being of itself and of the ‘others’ who are like it, and the being of things and phenomena of the surrounding world as it is presenting itself to this-being and is supposed, attached by this-being’s understanding of being.
The reality of non-being is displayed for this-being, first of all, on its own example, when it knows that it is coming from non-being and is going toward non-being.
The reality of non-being is presenting itself to this-being also on the example of things surrounding this-being, when those are emerging, changing and disappearing, in other words, they are coming from non-being and are going toward non-being.
Non-being is for this-being the absence of being as it is understood by this-being.
The reality is not only the present, it is equally the past and the future, too. The reality is not only the world of being, it is equally the world of non-being, too, non-being, from where we and things of the surrounding world are coming and where we and things of the surrounding world are going.
Copyright © 2010 Arman Hovhannisyan. All rights reserved.