The Philosophy of the Act

Essay 20  Passage, Process, and Permanence

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NEWTONIAN relativity recognized that uniform translation in a straight line provided no criterion that could determine whether the relative change of position of two bodies or systems of bodies with reference to each other was due to the motion of one or the other. Einstein has

generalized this so that translations, not only with uniform velocity but also with accelerated velocity and in changing directions, may be stated in terms of relative change of position, the laws of nature which formulate the resultants of motion being equally satisfied whichever system or consentient set is conceived to be in motion or at rest. The outcome of this doctrine has been the statement of change in nature in geometrical form, but it is a geometry that includes time as one of its dimensions. Thus there appears an entity that has position not only through its relations to other entities in a timeless space

but also through its relations to other entities in temporal passage, fora timeless space, that is, a space that is abstracted from its temporal dimension, can maintain its structure only with reference to one determinate order of passage; if entities are succeeded by different entities, their spatial relations will all have changed. The whole spatial organization of a Ptolemaic world is different from that of a Copernican world, however successfully one may translate from one to the other. The difference in these organizations depends upon whether the order of passage is the rising and setting of tile sun, or the revolution of the earth. An extension that includes temporal passage in its dimensions, thus allowing for an indefinite number of orders of passage, or time systems, can have no absolute timeless space; and no such absolute space can be found in nature. The ultimate entity in this four-dimensional geometry is, then, not a point but an event.


The position of an event can be determined in a determinate order of passage or a certain time system by spatial co-ordinates. By a determinate order of passage it is meant that throughout a duration, which may be identified with what the psychologist has called a specious present, the organization of a consentient set persists. Such an organization in the midst of an indefinite number of time systems can only be defined with reference to some event that extends throughout the duration. Such an event is identified with the physical individual, or, as Professor Whitehead terms it, the percipient event,[1] because only in connection with this do we find the persistent character of here and there which can define such a consentient set in the duration of a now. These durations or specious presents so overlap that it is possible to abstract from the temporal passage in the persistence of the organization of the consentient set in its relation to the here of the percipient event, or physical individual. Objects which occupy these events of the consentient sets would be at rest, while objects within such a set which are said to be in motion occupy events which do not maintain this relation of here and there to a percipient event. The events which are occupied by the rails are succeeded by events which have the same organization from the standpoint of the here and there of the observer, while those which are occupied by the train passing over the rails are succeeded by events which have a continuously different position in that organization. Within the train there is a persistent here and there organization, while the events of the landscape have continuously different positions with reference to this consentient set of the interior of the train.

The events do not move. They are extended over by different events according to the time system in which they lie; or, if by Whitehead's method of extensive abstraction we reduce them to ideal elements without temporal breadth, we can speak of them as succeeded by different events. Thus the same set of events may lie in two different time systems. As the train passes

(323) the station, to the man on the station platform and to the man in the train there is the same level of events at this ideal moment, but to each observer the events on this level are succeeded by different events, to the one by the flying windows of the cars and to the other by the flying telegraphs poles, or rather by the events occupied by these objects. If this common level is intersected by another level, a rect is produced which would be occupied by a straight line in the spaces of these different time systems, and a fourth intersection would give a punct.[2] It is an empirical fact of nature that no further division is possible by intersections. In this manner position may be obtained for this punct, or event-particle, but this position does not lie in a single space but belongs to all the spaces of the different intersecting time systems. Position, then, refers to the possibility of ideally reducing an event to a limit through the intersections of different time systems. Four such intersections give it position in the passage of nature in the sense that its relation to no other time system or succession of events would restrict its spatiotemporal extent any further, but it gives it no unique absolute spatial position, since answering to each time system there is a different spatial organization. Thus the geometry of such a four-dimensional extension is a very different one from that of a timeless space. By means of this restriction the event-particle, or punct, is located in the rects, levels, and volumes of fourdimensional extension, and thus in the different instantaneous and timeless spaces of the different time systems. A timeless space is a space of a consentient set which, through its lasting relation of cogredience with a percipient event, lies in a determinate time order or system, and may therefore be abstracted from the temporal dimension. There will, therefore, be a timeless space answering to each time system, upon the supposition of its cogredience with some percipient event.

As before remarked, an event arises as the ultimate entity of abstraction out of the assimilation of space and time as the four dimensions of extension. Spatial relations pass. Whatever,

(324) then, is defined entirely in terms of extension, spatial as well as temporal, passes but does not change, for change implies something that does not pass. Scientific theory is largely occupied in the resolution of physical change into the diverse spatial and temporal relationships of permanent objects. As long as we accepted an absolute timeless space, this permanence of the physical object could be conceived of as the effective occupation of a certain spatial volume; but, if this spatial volume passes, its occupation ceases and with it the permanence of the object. We find ourselves with a set of passing events which simply disappear, and objects which must surrender their spatial characters to preserve their permanence. Permanence thus involves not only taking the object out of time (as we do in so far as we consider it as permanent) but also taking it out of space, since space passes also. At the most we can speak of the events as being pervaded by a permanent character, but the character cannot be spatial.

It is space that has provided the permanence within which the temporal process could go on, and it has been to the spatial characteristics of things that we have come back in our search through scientific analysis for the permanent characters of the objects; for the uniformities of nature, its laws, have had fixed spatial points, lines, and volumes by which to determine them. When space passes, there is nothing but passage over against objects which as objects are not in space or in time and cannot be if they are to retain their permanence. An event, then, is that which passes, or happens, but not in or by something. At most its passage can be over something, but this passage must be over other events, which are also passing. Such an event is an abstraction that is forced upon us if space passes. It is an abstraction, for objects remain situated in events, and passage takes place in experience in the above-described timeless spaces of consentient sets, cogredient with percipient events.

Much the same can be said of motion. In a passing space there can be no motion. There can be merely events that pass and cease. There can be events which are coincident and those

(325) which are not coincident, but these do not constitute motion, which can take place only with reference to that which is at rest, that is, with reference to that which does not pass, in so far as motion is a passage from place to place. A timeless space is essential to motion and is provided for in Whitehead by cogredience. Here, again, the event is an abstraction that is forced upon us by the assumption that even timeless spaces are passing. It is an abstraction that is forced upon us by a logical analysis, not reached by fastening attention upon one character rather than another. All our experiences do take place in timeless spaces, and we can reach an experiential recognition of the passing character of spatial structure only by transferring ourselves to another consentient set with which we become cogredient. Our own timeless space ceases to be timeless because we have transferred ourselves to another timeless space. This does not, of course, invalidate the arguments for relativity, but it suggests the query whether there could be an experience to which an event is native. It would have to be one in which there would be neither objects nor motion.

One of the great contributions of relativity has been that it has accustomed us to the recognition that the determining relationship of the individual or percipient event to the consentient set is a fact in nature and in no sense involves subjectivity or what Whitehead calls the bifurcation of nature. If there were one absolute spatial and temporal order of the world, the different worlds of different individuals would seem to be experiences which should be located within the individuals; but, in a universe which is stratified by the selection of a time order by a percipient event, these stratifications are in nature and not in the individual, and we are at liberty to conceive of an evolution of such experiences which has followed the evolution which we ascribe to the forms themselves.

Let us, then, step back of the distinctively human experience, with its achievement of a mind-that is, an individual that addresses himself as he does another and uses symbols, an achievement that seems to have arisen within social conduct

(326) and perhaps its earlier achievement of the physical object. The latter object arose out of the break in the act which begins with an impulse seeking a stimulus at a distance and ends in the completion of the food, or sex, or parental process, or in escape, or rest and sleep, or a like physiological state. The break was made by the human hand, which in its manipulation stops short of the physiological completion of the act and finds a temporary completion of the act in the contact experiences of passive and active touch, in contact. Out of this arose the physical thing in its abstraction from the final stages of the act--mere matter which under the crumbling analysis of the hand suggests the hypothetical atom.

Without entering the contentious field of the history of this evolution, I wish to consider the character of an experience within which there is neither a self or mind nor any mediate field of physical things lying between the inception of the act and its physiological accomplishment, and I wish to consider it, first of all, from the standpoint of its extension, which in human experience has been separated into space and time. Extension in this experience would represent awayness, distance, and a separation in which there would be no distinction of space and time. The action which overcame or increased this separation would have aspects which for our analysis would lead to this distinction. For example, the rhythmical steps by which the separation would be overcome sets up something which, when repeated often enough, exhausts the distance which appears in vision; but repetition implies an extension in which the same thing can recur, that is, it involves a temporal phase which is divorced from that which recurs, whatever the form in which the undifferentiated situation may exist over against individuals whose conduct involves neither a recognizing self nor physical objects. In Whitehead's analysis motion involves a persistent here stated in terms of cogredience with a percipient event and the relation of physical objects to a space which is divorced from time.[3] The first provides a timeless space within which the

(327) motion takes place, and the second a timeless object that can recur in different positions of the timeless space.

Both the persistent here and the physical object belong to the mediate world of contact experience which breaks the whole act that terminates in a physiological conclusion. The perspectives of distance experience are ordered, reduced, and regularized through their relations to the co-ordinates of the immediate contact world, but this order, reduction, and regularity are not essential to the functional value of the distance stimuli. A cogredient world not only is an extension of the co-ordinates of contact experience but is also a world made up of objects that have the abiding character of the percipient event, or physical individual. That is, rest involves not only permanence of location but the location of a physical object, and a physical object is either one of actual contact experience (one that effectively occupies space over against the resistances of the surfaces of the hand and body) or one that hypothetically so occupies space at a distance. It must not be forgotten that the body of the individual only becomes an object as other physical objects appear in experience, for they are essential to the delimitation and orientation of the body, and that the content of effective occupation of space is a common content of the body and of other physical objects-it is not projected into the physical objects from the body. The peculiar importance of the body does not rest upon its primary differentiation as a physical object. Nor is this alone true of what may be called the outside of the physical object; it holds also for the inside of the object.

The internal structure of the organism of the individual stands upon the same level as that of other physical things, i.e., it has to be reached by a dissection. There is, however, what May be called the qualitative inside of an object, which is never reached by a dissection, since this only reveals new outsides. This inside is identified with what may be called its center of activity and finds its primary expression in the organism, but it is to be noted that this activity can be referred to the organism only when the organism has become an object, a physical object, as one among a group of objects which mutually deter-

(328) -mine each other. just as the effective occupation of space can be referred to the organism as a physical object only as the organism is delimited by and regarded from the standpoint of surrounding objects, so action and reaction can be referred to the physical organism only in so far as this action and reaction is defined by and regarded from the standpoint of the action and reaction of the surrounding objects. It is, however, important to recognize that contents can appear in experience without their being referred to objects, and especially that such reference cannot take place until objects have appeared. The reference to the organism takes place logically in the same fashion as the reference to other objects, that is, the standpoint of the reference must be outside the organism. The man who catches a thrown ball characterizes his own resistance by the force of the ball. The character of activity is shared by all physical objects in the situation with the organism and is ascribed to the organism as an object only so far as it ascribed to the other physical objects. The physical object is probably an abstraction from a primitive if somewhat vague social object, and the mechanism of reference is involved in the appearance of the self as an object. Here also the social objects stand upon the same logical level with the self and are essential both for definition of the self and for the standpoint from which the self is regarded as an object. We are, however, interested now in the physical objects in their spatiotemporal relations.

Such an object has an inside in so far as it acts in reaction to the individual organism, but no more than its external characters does this character belong to the stimulus as an object before the physical object has arisen in experience. Relatively identical stimuli will succeed one another, and there will be relatively uniform responses in the organism to these stimuli, and the responses to frequently recurring stimuli will attain facility and promptness, but there will be no objects in which these relatively identical characters can inhere, nor any selves to which these habits belong. Without the permanence of the object either in the environment or the organism, there will be

(329) nothing but events, and the identity of the characters of these events will have no medium within which they can crystallize. To the reflective observer the likeness of color, odor, and form of the recurring stimuli will reflect itself in habitual responses, but in the experience of the lower form there will be nothing but the recurrence of stimuli and responses, without comparison or reference, though in the conduct of the form there is selection and organization. Everything will happen and disappear. Time will be a dimension of all experience. In such experience rest, repose, and sleep will carry with them no permanence but merely the absence of change and effort. Though one specious present or duration merges in another through absence of change and effort, and balanced attitudes answer to these situations, the pulses of existence will succeed one another without permanence, identity, or thinghood. Nor will motion be aught but continual readjustment to stimuli which capture and hold attention in continually changing positions. Motion as the passage of an identical thing will not obtain in such an experience. What we call the animal's own motion will bring its claws and jaws into contact with the prey seen or smelled at a distance, but there will be no merging of the visual image with the memory image of that which has been devoured to form a percept of a permanent and identical character in the constantly varying experience, though the perfection of adjustment to the changing distances of the prey, and adaptation to each succeeding stage in the act, reflects just such a permanent object to the reflective observer.

I wish to lay emphasis upon the relativistic standpoint which I have occupied in the statement just made. That standpoint as stated by Whitehead recognizes that a consentient set exists only in relation to a percipient event, but Professor Whitehead insists that this relation exists in nature. He calls it a stratification of nature. The percipient event in his account does not include mind. The percipient event is only the physical location and apparatus of mind. As occupying this location, mind is within nature, but the relation between the body and its con-

(330) -sentient set or environment is a phase of nature of which mind is aware. It is not a state of mind. The sensa to which he refers are parts of nature, not of mind. The selection of a time system by the percipient event, which is tantamount to the determination of a consentient set, answers, then, not to a subjective experience but to an environment which is existent in nature, though dependent upon its relationship to the specific individual for its existence as an environment. Nature has an infinite number of aspects, but they are aspects only with reference to percipient events or individuals, actual or implied. The aspects of nature are, then, not aspects of an absolute reality of which the aspects are restricted and imperfect copies, but each aspect is a complete slab or stratification of nature within a certain duration or temporal spread. All of them may be required for the whole of nature, but they do not fit into one another to give an absolute nature, though it is possible to translate from one to any other. It may be possible for two men, one in Chicago and another in Peking, to adopt the so-called co-ordinates of the fixed stars and translate their views of the heavens into a common consentient set, but this consentient set is but one among the infinite number of possible consentient sets, for the stars are not fixed, and there is no absolute set of co-ordinates to which all others may be referred. The co-ordinates of the fixed stars constitute a convenience dependent upon selection of the socially organized group of individuals or percipient events in the presentation of stellar events. In the spatiotemporal structure of nature, relativity, at least in Whitehead's statement of it, recognizes the dependence of the environment upon the form for its existence as an environment.[4] The spatiotemporal environment is relative to its percipient event or individual, and not to an absolute world. In the place of a relation to an absolute enters the possibility of transforming the equations descriptive of objects and changes in any one consentient set into equations descriptive of corresponding objects and changes in any other consentient set within which the same events may be conceived

(331) of as situated. In a sense there exists an absolute universe of events, but the spatiotemporal separation of these events from one another and their succession may vary in the different consentient sets. There is no absolute world of things.

In the experience, which I have suggested, of animals without minds and physical objects, there would be no things, no permanence, no sameness. There could be no sameness (for sameness involves reference, and this involves mind), though the characters would be there which under reference would be identical. The so-called sensuous characters would be present for a reflective observer in the same consentient set and also the habitual adjustments which we interpret in terms of the identity of the stimuli. The spatiotemporal extension of such an experience would seem to correspond exactly to a world of events such as results from the recognition that time is one of the dimensions of extension. However, these events would be occupied not by objects, whether the physical selves or the things about them, but by sensuous characters. These characters would include what we call effort in the organisms and force or energy in the physical objects which are in interaction with the organisms. Whitehead refers to characters so occupying events as pseudo-adjectives[5] and adjectives which pervade the routes of events, but these characters are conceived of by Whitehead as having the permanence of that which does not pass. In the experience suggested above, these characters would be present but would pass, that is, they would be events, and we have no difficulty in presenting this phase of such an experience, for, if anything passes, certainly the color of a fading sunset or the warmth of a dying fire does. Passage does not involve a content that does not pass. It involves simply happening, a coming into being and going out. Change involves departure from a condition that must continue in some sense to fulfil the sense of change from that condition. As an illustration of the distinction I may refer to the reading of a sentence when the mind is occupied with other things. The distracted individual may recall

(332) the sentence and get its changing meaning, but the passage of the words took place without any background against which the sense develops when it is comprehended. When the word was read, it was gone, and no persistent relational meaning bound the passing symbols together in a persistent nonpassing content. Such words were events, pure and simple, but they were contents, however slight. So in the experience I am suggesting all the sensuous contents may be conceived of as passing. The sameness of the green of one event and of the green of the next event would arise for a more developed intelligence which could indicate this to another or to himself, but it would not be there in the experience of the lower form-only the events each with its momentary green would be there.

The spatiotemporal character of such an experience would be just what Whitehead depicts as that which results from the consistent recognition that time is a dimension of extension and that so-called spatial configurations pass. The recognition of this not only wipes out the permanent physical object but introduces the possibility of different time systems among the same events. Which tree succeeds another tree depends upon the direction in which the animal is moving. Of course, the intimation just given that the animal is moving implies a consentient set which is at rest and objects which preserve their identitya timeless space and permanent things. Within such a situation there is but one determinate order of succession, and persons moving in different directions within that field would always find themselves cogredient with the field which is at rest. The different succession of trees would be for them illusory appearances of their own motions. In the experience which I am assuming there is no motion, there are different successions of the same events. That these events are characterized by experiences of effort and force, together with other characters which to the reflective observer remain identical but which in the experience of these animals succeed one another and disappear, does not constitute them motions. There are limitations to the time systems and to their corresponding spaces, just as there are

(333) limitations to the distortions due to visual perspectives, which are expressed in the fact that they can all be translated into one another, or more generally by the fact that there is one passage of nature in which events extend over events which are parts of them. Thus in a Ptolemaic or a Copernican world there is the same process of the seasons, the same years, and the same succession of the eclipses. Within these limitations any temporal perspective, answering to any percipient event, is as legitimate as any other and constitutes a genuine stratification of nature. It is a real relationship of the universe to an individual. In an experience in which there are no physical objects and there is no motion, there will be not only this passage of nature which covers all events, but also events with such varying temporal dimensions that the spatial structure of the events that succeed them will be continually different, with corresponding differences in the sensuous characters that occupy the events. These differences will be registered in this experience not as differences, i.e., there will be no comparisons, but as the events which make up what we call the bodily life of the animal and the feels which occupy them. In such an experience there will be no consentient set, for this implies an identity of spatial structure over against passage and a comparison with the changing order consequent upon the varying temporal dimensions of certain events. Nor will there be any crystallization of characters into objects.

Relativity in such an experience seems to come back to the indeterminateness of the time dimension in its relation to the so-called spatial dimensions. If we abstract from the time dimension, that is, if we accept the timeless space of our own experience, space is within that experience determinate, and the geometry of such a space, given its axioms or postulates, is a deductive science. Admit time as a dimension in a world in which there are no consentient sets, no objects, and no motion, and it is entirely indeterminate whether one event will be succeeded by any one event or another in the duration. There will be no repetitions, for there will be no sameness, no spatial structure that repeats itself and, therefore, no historical routes that

(334) answer to points in timeless spaces. In conceiving such an experience, we are not at liberty to read back into it the structure of our experience with its cogrediences and consentient sets. From the standpoint of a reflective observer, objects, motion, continuous objects, and identity may be there, but the experience in which these are found is not the experience answering to the type of individual to which we are referring. Such an observer is the condition for the appearance in his experience of that which lasts during the duration, just as an animal with the power of digesting and assimilating what could not before be digested and assimilated is the condition for the appearance of food in his environment. It is not enough that the individual lasts through the duration to give rise to a persistent here, in Whitehead's sense. If the percipient event passes with the duration, there will be no persistent here. Persistence involves an individual who holds on to what is passing during the duration, or specious present. In such an experience a passing green may be the same green in the succeeding events. If the vision passes with the green of the earlier event, there will be no persistence, though from the standpoint of the experience of the reflective observer the green persists. The individual in whose experience there exists that which lasts is an individual who not only has vision of the green but also has as a terminus of his experience his own later responses to the green as a stimulus, for then, in a fashion, the whole act is there. The mere presence of the tendency to respond in the passing experience would not carry with it the persistence of a character. Taken by itself, it would be but another passing phase in the experience. In an instinctive or entirely habitual act, the mere readiness to later response does not endow the experience with permanence of characters; but where there arc alternative later responses which keep attention centered on the stimulus, bringing out now one and now another character which mediates these different responses, there appears permanence-which may be defined as an expression of the relation between the individual and the content of stimulation. In this relation, while there are alternative responses, they

(335) fall within a common contact manipulatory process, and the elements in the content of stimulation which tend to call out this response remain in all the alternative tendencies to response. In so far as the organization of the act is taking place, the merging of these in a temporal whole appears. The content lasts with a constant core over against changing phases. This does not involve the experience of sameness (for this requires reference) but that that in the stimulation content which answers to the contact reaction within which the alternative responses lie, and which is essential to these responses, may appear as lasting, while the attention passes from the contents that answer to one alternative response to those that answer to another. Stating the position generally, until there occurs an interruption in the act such that a certain content in the field persists while other contents shift, there will be no lasting content and no lasting experience. When the organism must hold on to one content as the condition for the organization of the responses that tend to complete the act, there may be in the so-called specious present that which lasts; otherwise events and their contents will simply pass, irrespective of the continued identity of the characters from the standpoint of a reflective observer.

The lasting character of such an experience will not be found primarily in the so-called sensuous content of the stimulation but in the persistent attitude of the form toward it, though the persistent character of the attitude is mediated by this content, and the attention of the form will be found centered there. The situation involving both the form and the environment is that of the relation of different outcomes of the act to this orientation, while up to the point of contact the act is identical. It involves the whole field organized from the standpoint of this content of distant stimulation. These competing tendencies to ultimate response hold in check the movement toward the object and determine the contact reaction and manner of approach. During this duration, and others that pass into it, the balanced attitude of the form and that in the content of stimula-

(336) -tion which mediates this attitude may together become that which lasts. It is the persistent here of the consentient set. The whole merges together without distinction between the persistent orientation and the sentient characters occupying it. The attitude does not change, nor do the stimuli that mediate the attitude, and this attitude stands out over against the different tendencies to ultimate response and the stimulations that answer to these.

While I am confident that this critical situation is that within which the lasting element in experience appears, I recognize that in the statement given I have not succeeded in showing how, out of an experience that passes with the events in the experience, there arises that within the experience which lasts. I have insisted that the so-called sensuous content of color or odor not only can occupy an event but also can pass with the event. If we speak of the relation of the form to its environment as that of sentience, that which takes place within the form in the experience of color can pass also, and in such a situation, no matter what the account of it might be which the reflective observer would give of it, there could be nothing that lasts. Nor, in the account which I have just presented of a situation within which that which lasts arises, does there seem to be anything more than passing sentience; for the fact that accompanying certain contents of stimulation there are to be found certain identical characters does not make them identical in the experience. The presence of identical elements in the experience from the standpoint of the reflective observer does not introduce this identity as a character in the experience of the form whose sentience passes with the events.

This entire account has carried with it an implication that sentiencethe attitude of the individual in so far as that attitude determines the environment and is determined by it-is a character in the percipient individual that corresponds to the character in the content of the environment, that it is representative, that it is "of" something, that it has a cognitive value, that it is a sensing, that it is a consciousness. This is an implica-

(337) -tion which I wish explicitly to get rid of. The relation of the individual to his environment, in so far as the individual determines the environment and is determined by the environment, is certainly not a cognitive relationship. It is selective, constitutive, causal. It may be difficult to banish the correlation of the image on the retina and the visual object, but it is an utterly misleading relationship.

The cognitive relation presupposes the presence of that which is cognized. If we abandon with Whitehead the bifurcation of nature, the colors, sounds, tastes, odors, and temperatures are there in nature quite as genuinely as spatiotemporal extensions; but, according to Whitehead, these entities, or pseudo-adjectives, are objects because they do not pass. Over against this position I have maintained that whether they pass or not depends upon the nature of the individual whose selection is responsible for his stratification of nature. In the experience of a form in which nothing lasts, I see no reason for assuming that there are not colors, sounds, tastes, odors, and temperatures which do not last. I think we find abundant illustrations of such in our own experience. Their lasting character depends upon the already noted difference in our experience and upon the individual who makes such an experience possible. Their character as objects, as termini of thought, moreover, seems to me to represent a still further advance in the evolution of experience, namely, when within experience cognition takes place. In all these types of experience (that in which there is nothing that does not pass, that in which there is that which lasts, and that in which there are objects that are cognized) there is color and all the rest of the adjectives and pseudo-adjectives. Whitehead seems to allow for stratifi cations of nature only on the basis of the selection of a time system by a percipient event (I would say by an individual) and on the basis of his persistent here throughout a duration, i.e., his cogredience. This persistence seems to me to posit a lasting character of the experience which calls for an explanation. Furthermore, the selection, which Whitehead refers to as that of the best operative past, involves much more

(338) than he offers in his statement of cogredience. It seems to me to be found in the mutual determination of form and environment, as illustrated above in the appearance of food. An animal with a new digestive apparatus stratifies nature as genuinely as the percipient event with a persistent here. What the individual is determines what the character of his environment will be.

The individual form that interrupts his complete physiological act in the manner described is a different sort of an animal and has a different sort of an environment. He has otherwise stratified nature. The difference of principal importance here is that not only do the persistent heres of succeeding durations merge into one another, as Whitehead insists, but the contents of these events merge also. Thus the experience of effort on the part of the organism and that in the stimulation content which mediates this effort so merge. It is that which is involved in this merging that it seems to me is not brought out in Whitehead's presentation. The passage of one here into another here will not be present as an unbroken here unless its unbroken character has become critical in the experience. As I have before insisted, passage of what from another standpoint is identical may not be the passage of an identical character if the events in the environment and the individual simply pass. It is true not only that there can be no motion without rest but that there can be no rest without motion. Rest is the field of motion, and persistent heres or cogrediences merge into such a field because the motions or tendencies to motion of a living form have this common content from which and with reference to which they take place. It is the divergence of the different motions that is responsible for the merging of the common content of the field of rest. For an individual whose conduct consists in unbroken straightaway acts there would be no such field, or merging of events and their contents. An individual, however, whose conduct involves the selection and organization of alternative responses from a given situation must hold on to this common situation in the selection and organization of the responses in the act.


What I am undertaking to bring out is that the appearance of such an individual (an individual in whose conduct there are acts with alternative responses within a framework of the act which remains the same) is responsible for the appearance of an identical element in experience. What is critically novel in this individual is the existence of the life-process not simply as something that is going on but as the events in the process which are before and after and yet are present determining the current events. Both the causal and the functional values of the events that are going on, the conditions and the end, the reasons for these events from both standpoints, are there in the individual and in his environment. Both the food process in the individual and food as food in the environment involve the determining character of the past and the future in the passing events. Whitehead seems to recognize this in what he calls the causal future[6] of the event-particle. In our experience this appears in the distance experience in so far as its contact values merge into the distance values. We see, hear, and smell things as those which we may touch and grasp. This value of that which is present as sight, sound, or odor is not simply a tendency in the individual plus perhaps an image of the contact.

In the specious present there is more than an instantaneous experience of effort. The temporal spread of the experience includes that which is later and that which is earlier, and there is determination in both directions. We call it a present, though some of the past and future is included within it. The causal determination works forward. In the living form that which is going to happen works backward. We call this control within the life-process. In the specious present this control works immediately, but immediacy here is not instantaneity. The ongoing events control the action of the individual. The very events that are taking place effect an ongoing process. We are likely to state this control in our own conduct in terms of consciousness, but it is present in the plant as well as in the animal. There is a living process there which refuses to be stated in

(340) terms of causal determination. It is, of course, possible to translate action, in terms of the past, into motion, but this falls to convey what appears in experience as effort or action. The characteristic of action is that within the immediate temporal spread there is a something going on which is controlled by the later events. For purposes of our own control we confine the term "future" to what lies beyond this specious present and state this in terms of a presented past in a causal series. Because of the indeterminateness of the temporal succession, this statement is necessarily in varying degrees hypothetical, but it is a hypothetical extension of the future in the specious present.

In the twisting of a plant toward the light, the later effect of the light reached by the twisting controls the process. It will be in the direction which provides the maximum of illumination. Within the temporal spread of a present the later events control a process which continues throughout the whole. If this is stated entirely in terms of the past, there is no control, and there is no such entity as a process-nothing but successive changes of position with redistribution of the energy involved. This would provide a causal account. It would give the reason for the change of position in the causal sense of a reason for the change. If we assume a tendency to twist toward the light, a process which in a temporal spread is a reality throughout, the control by the later event of greater illumination is the reason in a final sense. A mechanical statement denies the existence of a process and justifies itself by the possibility of making a complete statement of the occurrences in terms of the results of motion alone. If the present is reduced to an instant, no such a thing as a process can exist, except in a so-called idea of a series of such instants, and even this could not exist without what we call it specious present, i.e., a present with a temporal spread. A living process is a series of events that are moving toward a terminus and is controlled in that movement by the later events in the duration.

A living form, then, stratifies nature in the sense of its process, i.e., it selects its environment, that to which it is sensitive,

(341) those events that control the living process. If we state this process entirely in physical and chemical terms, we come back to physical particles which have at most fields of force or Whitehead's causal futures. The question is whether in this abstraction we are abstracting from something in nature that is there. Is there such a thing in nature as life, and is there such a thing as control, in any sense but that of a so-called mental interpretation? In the latter case we would deny life to the plant, while we might ascribe it to the animal that we endow with a forward-looking consciousness, in which tendencies and impulses may appear. It is my assumption that there is such an entity as life in nature, living forms, and light and food in their environment and that these exercise control.

A definition of life in terms of physical science, since this states the world in timeless spaces that answer to durations that are reduced to ideal instants, is bound to be mechanical, since it allows of no spread of existence within which a process can exist. It also has no place for a living process, since its statements are all in causal series, in terms of a past actual or presented, not in terms of a future with an indeterminate time dimension. I take it that the indeterminateness of the time dimension of extension introduces the possibility of contingency in nature. There can be a selection of a time system, i.e., of the events that are to succeed the immediate events, but there can be no selection without a reason, and this reason must be found in an existent succession that is a reality as a whole, that is, in a process.

A living individual is one that lives in the future, i.e., it is sensitive to that which controls the expression of its impulses, its life-process. Now in the experience of such an individual there can appear a timeless space. A timeless space is one in which abstraction is made from the time dimension because of the cogredience with a duration of the percipient event or individual. Whitehead's statement of cogredience follows:

When an event has the property of being a percipient event unequivocally here within an associated duration, we shall say that it is cogredient with

(342) the duration. An event can be cogredient with only one duration. To have this relation to the duration it must be temporally present throughout the duration and exhibit one specific meaning of "here." But a duration can have many events cogredient with it. Namely, any event, which is temporally present throughout that duration and in relation to an event here-present defines one specific meaning of "there," is an event "there-present" which has the same relation of cogredience to that duration and (to that extent) is (so far) potentially an event "here-present" in that duration for some possible act of apprehension. Thus cogredience is a condition for a percipient event yielding unequivocal meanings to "here" and "now."[7]

It is the persistent relation of "here-present" and "there-present" which constitutes cogredience with the duration; that is, they last throughout the duration in this relation of cogredience, and abstraction is made from the time dimension.

But abstraction is made in the experience only in so far as this lasting here-present and there-present in the duration becomes a field within which the different phases of the distant stimulation, which are competing for the control of later phases of the act, build up an object that may mediate any one of these alternative responses. Thus something in the road ahead of one becomes an object in so far as one may heave or push it out of the way or go about it or leap over it. It is an object with all these possibilities of response, all these characters, in that for all of them it retains its there-present character over against the here-present character of the individual. The definition of its lasting there-presence is that it is there for any one and all of these completions of the act of reaching it. Otherwise cogredience would be a persistence of the here-present and the there-present for the reflective observer, but the persistence would not characterize the duration which is determined by its relation to this percipient event or individual. A timeless space is, then, that spatial organization determined by physical objects which invite to different contact responses when an identical response of reaching the object is the condition of carrying out the contact responses.

It is the identity of this earlier part of these different acts that abstracts from its temporal dimension. It does not ab-

(343) -stract from the spatial dimensions of this part of the act, for these are determining stimulations in the act, while the identical passage of the organized spatial field and of the percipient event or individual has no bearing on the act or acts. It is evident that this abstraction takes place only within an act in which the later event, the future, is determining a process which is itself responsible for the stratification of the duration in the interrelation of form and environment. It is, of course, the moving physical object that is of earliest interest in the conduct of the form, that is, the physical object with an indeterminate time dimension; but, while its movement lends it acute interest, it does not provide the conditions for abstraction from the time dimension of the field at rest. These conditions are those that lead to the appearance of the physical object and have been already recited. Such a living being not only determines an environment but has as a content a process in which the later events in the experience control the acts which express that process. This content in the individual appears as tendencies, i.e., a series of events which not only advance to a certain set of events but show a certain direction in the relation of the events to one another which exhibits itself in the fact that what takes place in a specious present, a duration, is there as a whole, and that the ongoing phase controls this whole, the active future directing the process. Furthermore, the adjustments within the organism for later phases of the act may be sufficiently present to influence its immediate expression. It is this latter character of the act which is of peculiar importance, for when there appear conflicting adjustments answering to characters in the distant field of stimulation, there results, or may result, an inhibition of the act. It is then that the process within the specious present appears as a whole and gives rise to the lasting phase in experience.

What is involved in a process is not simply a continuity. This is given in extension. One event extends over other events. A process involves the past as determining the fixed conditions of that which is taking place, and it involves that which is taking

(344) place as maintaining itself by adjustment to the oncoming event-the future. Every process can be resolved into a mere series of events which determine one another, if we regard them as past; but at the future edge of experience there is content which reaches out ready to accept the control of that which is taking place, in still maintaining itself. So far as I see, it is a datum of experience. It is more than life as life is defined by the chemist and biologist, but I know of no process that is not that of a living form. To identify that which is not found in life by the chemist or physicist with consciousness is to deny that life is a process, for the physicochemical statement reduces it to a causal series, and it becomes impossible to keep consciousness as a separate entity from swallowing up everything, unless one sets up an unmeaning parallelism at an arbitrary point in the causal series. It is this content that appears in the living individual, and with the new individual comes a new environment. The appearance of the process in this individual is of importance not only as essential to appearance of the lasting element in experience but also for the appearance of spaces and times and for the separation of space from time in extension. The permanent condition of conduct is an extension whose time system is determinate, and from which, therefore, the temporal character of extension may be abstracted, leaving the so-called spatial characters. The temporal extension that is abstracted from is indeterminate-time as exhibited in motion. The moving object is in a series of constantly changing successions, and in the environment of the individual it involves constantly changing attitudes in the individual.

Time which is indeterminate succession at the future edge of the duration, or specious present (what Bergson calls "living time"), is to be distinguished from what Bergson calls " spatialized time," that is, a time that has been returned to an extension from which it has been abstracted, but returned as a still abstracted character. At the future edge of experience it is not time that passes but events that pass. It is because there are things that do not pass that there appears a time that

(345) passes. In this time that passes the things last. Lasting things in a passing time is the situation arising from the return of passage to the conditions of conduct from which passage has been abstracted. At the future edge of experience things pass. Their characters change and they go to pieces. We may save the fragments and conceive of them as lasting physical elements, but at this perilous edge it is a world of flux. It is only the process that lasts. A process that lasts I have already defined as an event extending throughout a duration as a whole and merging into the future in adjustment to what occurs. Whitehead recognizes a merging from behind, in so far as "the two 'heres' of sense-awareness within neighboring durations may be indistinguishable. Namely, the sense of rest helps the integration of durations into a prolonged present."[8] What distinguishes a process from a mere duration is that at the future edge of experience it merges with the emerging events in adjustment or control so that as a whole it is continuous with the future. What introduces the lasting character, as lasting, into experience is the inhibition within the process which exhibits the characters of the field of stimulation that are spatiotemporally distant. They are characters which answer to alternative responses when the individual has reached them. Their alternative character inhibits the act, but the adjustment has reference to the later situation, and between that and the here-present of the individual lies a response and a corresponding area which is unaffected by the ultimate form that the act takes. This field lasts with its objects while the adjustment takes place, and the organization of characters takes the form of, say, something to be jumped over, or something to be pushed aside. I have referred to the objects that in some sense define the intervening field. They also are physical objects that suggest different contact responses, but one's attitude toward them is not that of doing one thing or the other, but the balanced attitude of one who may react in different ways, while the locus of these varied responses in its spatial relation to the loci of other like objects

(346) serves to build up the whole landscape which lasts between the here-present individual and the there-present object that is arising in the definition of the act. It is this inhibition in the process, owing to the problematic later stage of the act, that transfers the lasting character of the process to the intervening field at rest, i.e., a field that is organized with reference to an act or acts ready to go off when the solution of the problem is reached. The spatial organization of this field, from which the happening at the spatiotemporally distant spot is abstracted, is a timeless space that lasts. And passage in this field is an eventless passage. It is a time within which space and its objects last. Time is abstracted from this intervening field because the passage of events over there have no bearing upon it. Having been abstracted, it is returned to the field as a time within which it lasts.

It is evident that if the future edge of experience were immediately at the contact door, and there were no distance field of stimulation, or if the situation were that of an amoeba, or if conduct with reference to the spatiotemporally distant took place without inhibition, or if inhibition meant simply the abandonment of the initiated act and the commencement of another, there would be no time. There would be merely the passage of events, and the lasting character of the process would not be reflected either into the persistent here and there of the individual or into persistent physical objects.

Professor James stated that once in Paris he was wandering somewhat aimlessly through the streets and became suddenly aware that he was standing before the door of the lycée that he had attended as a boy years before. If we isolate the process by which he threaded the streets and reached this goal from the rest of Professor James's experience, it would have been an experience in which there was neither space nor time, but only the passage of event after event, spatiotemporally extended, but in which no building or street corner ahead waited while he reached it, in a time which had been abstracted from the passage. It is the later part of the process imbedded in the

(347) whole and controlling it that is the occasion for the splitting of extension into space and time, and it can accomplish this only when alternative responses in this latter part arrest the process, leaving a persistent there and a passage abstracted from it.

The term "imbedded in the whole" calls for further elaboration. We are likely to conceive of this in terms of the central nervous system. There the co-ordinations which will innervate the manipulatory process are thought of as actually excited. If we placed upon the hands and arm delicate apparatus which could register minimal responses of their muscles , we might secure evidence of such excitement. This excitement may react back upon the conduct in reaching the object in question, controlling the advance upon it. The most favorable point from which to grasp the object may determine the direction of approach; and, if there are alternative responses of grasping the object, the interaction between these excited areas in the central nervous system may inhibit the advance until the conquest of the act by one or the other (or their organization into a more elaborate process) finally sets the advance free. I wish to detach the situation at the future edge of experience from this formulation in terms of past experience with its a posteriori implications, for the statement just given is one in which there is neither inhibition nor control, nor can there be an act or a proccess. What appears in the a posteriori formulation is nothing but ultimate physical particles in successive redistributions. The laws of these redistributions may be the basis for prophecy of the situation in a future situation, but this provides no future that is a part of the process until it has appeared as a past. The future that is there as a part of the process is that just taking place, in so far as it controls the whole process going on. The past projected into the future, hypothetically, is justified by the result, but the future into which it is projected is an extension of the future that is actually there in the act. The present is the combination of the future and the past in the process that is going on. The future is the control of the process, and the past

(348) is that which is there as an irrevocable condition of the ongoing of the process. These two temporal phases, the future and the past, are divided between the individual and his environment, or the percipient event and the consentient cogredient set. The future comes in in terms of the act, the past in terms of the field of the act. Where they merge in the process, we have the present. In that minimal extension there is no distinction between the individual and the environment, but the control appears as selection in the environment with the inevitable isolation of what has been there that is appropriate for the demand of the act. In terms of the attitude of anticipation involved in control we have called the one consciousness. In terms of the condition of the act we have called the other the world. I find myself in agreement with Professor Bode in identifying the future with consciousness,[9] though I have reached the position by a somewhat different path.

The existence in nature of this dependence of the cogredient consentient set upon the individual, which Whitehead's doctrine of relativity postulates, frees us both from the ascription of subjectivity to the future in the attitude of the individual and from that of the mechanical determination of the individual by the world. The world that is there, this slab of nature, is there because of the teleological determination of the individual. If we call it "experience," it is not a subjective experience of the individual. On the other hand, the causal structure of the set or environment that is selected in no way determines the selection that is made. As the future edge of experience we project the causal mechanism into the future, but always as the condition of the future that has been selected, not as the condition of the selection. The condition of the selection is always found in the process as a whole, whether this appears in the twisting of the plant toward the sun, or in the process that is responsible for foods, refuges, dangers, and the like. It is because it is a plant that there is twisting; otherwise there is simply a redis-

(349) -tribution of energies which may be one thing in one environment or cogredient consentient set, and another in another. Given the environment of the plant, it is a twisting toward the greater illumination, and every change in it is necessitated when we look back at it. It is the life-process present throughout that makes it a twisting. In its utmost abstraction it appears as the cogredient consentient set. The cogredient set is at rest and endures (or rather the relation of here and there endures) throughout the duration; but, as we have seen, the mere successive appearance of a relation between the percipient event and the cogredient set, which becomes the same relation when it is taken as a whole, does not make this successive appearance of the relation the same if this added character of the whole is not there. It is the addition of the whole in terms of the act that is taking place within the field of rest that makes it a field of rest. From the standpoint of another percipient event it is not a field of rest but of motion, and, abstracting from any percipient event, it is neither rest nor motion but events extended spatiotemporally, with no determinate temporal direction, and consequently no determinate succession of one event upon another. If we grasp nature as made up of all these consentient sets, we must presuppose these processes (i.e., taken most abstractly, durations) which as wholes are present in all parts selecting the set that carries it on --what I think Whitehead implies in his expression of the best operative past. This appears in experience as the actual future, that is, the selection in the immediate experience of what expresses that which is going on, the act.

A point of crucial importance here is that the selection is responsible for an actual succession of events in nature which would not obtain if no selection were made or if another selection were made; but I am confident that no selection is conceivable without the appearance of a process which I have attempted to define in its highest abstraction as a spatiotemporal extension of events which is in some sense present in all its parts. Life seems to be the earliest illustration of this. Another

(350) example of this, to which Whitehead is fond of referring, is a melody, though it stands on another level.

When and how the living process appeared can hardly be conjectured, though there is no reason to assume that it was not a gradual evolution which could be causally described in physical and chemical terms. Concerning how the form of the process which is ambiguously referred to as that of consciousness arose, we can gain more of an inkling. It must have arisen when distant stimuli governing immediate responses stretched out the future by their alternative possibilities. If a distant stimulus sets free simply an immediate response, there will be no more a future than that involved in its selection as the control of the process; but, if two or more stimuli open doors to varied responses, there appear, in the individual, the incipient acts that answer to them and, in the field, the organized groups of stimuli that mediate the different acts.

If the living form selects its own environment, as the percipient event selects its own time system and so its cogredient consentient set, it is giving rise to a field which but for its living process would not be there; and, if this selection is extended by alternative possible reactions at the future edge of experience, there is just so much more of the future brought into the act. I wish to contrast again the universe where its continuity breaks down in what Whitehead terms "atomicity" (composed of units characterized by inertia, electrical charge, by energy, together with their fields, spatiotemporally extended but with an indeterminate time dimension) with the universes, or slabs of nature, that arise with the life-process in its successive stages of development. Leaving to one side the question whether we can conceive of the universe as first spoken of as having existed in time (i.e., whether such a universe is more than a logical abstraction), it would be a universe in which there would be no consentient sets, no physical objects apart from the ultimate physical particles, no living forms with their environments. Scientific analysis, if it reaches the goal which it must at least contemplate, reduces the present worlds of experience or any

(351) worlds of earlier experience to such a congery of ultimate physical particles and their fields and, under the doctrine of relativity, indeterminate as to their time dimension and thus subject to no determinate succession of events. But the worlds which together constitute the whole of nature are dependent for their existence upon the appearance of processes such as have been suggested. They always involve the interrelationship of individuals and their environments, whether it is that of the percipient event and its cogredient consentient set, or of living forms in their different stages of evolution and their richer environments. If we define as future that part of the experience in the temporarily extended duration which immediately, but not instantaneously, controls the ongoing process, enabling the whole to appear in continually new experience, then the situation in which the ongoing process is checked by the inhibition of conflicting tendencies (so that the act awaits not only a selection but also an organization of the field, answering to a temporal arrangement of the succeeding parts of the act) is an extension of the future. I have referred to it as the hypothetical future. It is, however, only an extension of what I may call the immediate future, or the actual in contrast to the hypothetical future. Its future character is found in the immediate experience, but in our ordinary use of the term we are likely to confine the future to this hypothetical phase, placing the immediate future in a wrongly conceived instantaneous present. Emphasis upon the future at once brings out the past. The past is that part of the experience that is there as the expression of the process, and which conditions its further expression as distinguished from its control. This is also extended hypothetically, but it retains its qualitative character of thereness and conditionality, so that two divergent pasts covering the same experience have the same functional character of thereness and conditionality, though they may be as hypothetical as the futures.

The thereness of the immediate and the hypothetical past is expressed in the term "datum," the given, the irrevocable from the standpoint of passage. It invites definition, since it is what

(352) it is and cannot in itself be altered. And it invites analysis, since it is only that which is given, which has occurred, which is a whole equal to the sum of its parts. That which is going on is what it is in terms of a process that is constantly assuming new form and yet remains the same process. It must be taken as a whole, in what from the standpoint of the past is a part. Motion, until its path has been traced, that is, when it has ceased to be a motion, is what it is as a whole in any element of its traject. Mathematically we seek to express this whole that is in any of its parts by the law of the relation of the accomplished whole to its part, which is then identified with the motion, but this is a competent statement of the motion only when it is completed, or appears in the hypothetical future as a presented past. It belongs to the nature of the always contingent future that the motion may change direction or velocity through that which is emerging, so that its path may no longer express the law. I have a suspicion, which I have not verified, that the designation of an infinite whole as reflexive, i.e., as having a one to one relation with any of its parts, and therefore as in some sense substitutable for the part and the part for the whole, is another mathematical device for stating the process that is present in any instance and that belongs to the future edge of experience, in terms of the past in which the whole is the sum of its parts. In the case of inductive numbers we have by abstraction a noncontingent future. We can, therefore, stretch the counting indefinitely into a future which has lost its hypothetical character. The transfinite number, which is the number of the whole series of cardinal numbers, is not the number of any stretch of this series however extended it may be. It is an entirety, but the only unity that is there is that of the process. While this may be stated as the law of the heritability of all that is in n, and in n + 1, this conception of infinity goes farther and demands that we find in the part that is being counted elements that answer to the whole series. The infinite as that which extends indefinitely is captured as a whole in so far as it is realized that every possibly designated element in it must have a correlate in the stretch that comes within a specious

(353) present. A process which may be extended into a noncontingent future is a series any part of which may be found in an expansion of the immediate process. It is already there in the sense that not only is any expansion of an equation implied in the equation-for this depends upon the substitutions which are made-but any portion of the infinite series is actually realizable in the immediate experience. The movement toward the infinitely small seems to provide a field for a statement, in terms of the past, of what is characteristic of the process-namely, that it is present as a whole in any of its extended expressions. Any such statement, however, is in terms of the past. It does not cover the process as future, for the future is incurably contingent. It has only the function which the past has in conduct, that of providing the condition that is there for the further expression of the process.

This function of the past, that of providing that which is there as condition for future conduct (expressed by Whitehead in his statement: "A percipient event selects that duration with which the operative past of the event is practically cogredient within the limits of the exactitude of observation"), is fulfilled by the hypothetical futures of distant physical objects in the perceptual world. Each such object is the stimulus or occasion for a certain number of contact responses which inhibit one another, place the individual in the balanced attitude of readiness to use the object in many ways, and answer to what the object is in experience. But none of these responses is within the reach of immediate experience. There is a common element in all these possible future acts: that of getting to or away from or moving with reference to the object. Taken together a group of such objects with these distance values constitute the field of action. It is a field of action, and the whole field is oriented with reference to that stimulus which sets the response free, but in the presence of alternative distance responses there is inhibition, and during this inhibition this field which is not involved in the alternative distance reactions lasts.

If we now transfer attention from the psychological field of a living form that is capable of breaking the physiological act

(354) by manipulation, that orients itself with reference to distant objects, and in the case of alternative manipulatory responses to the distant object, that inhibits the identical movement toward the distant object, over to the field of the environment of the form, the form lies in the world of physical objects and, ultimately, in that of scientific objects. As long as we keep within the categories of the biological sciences, the strict dependence of the environment upon the form can be readily recognized. No environment exists for the form except that to which in one way or another the form can react. This environment may be generalized as that of the species, but this is possible only under a corresponding generalization of the form. If, however, we step back of this biological category to that of the physical object, which we can define first in terms of generalized manipulatory experience and then in terms of the object of the physical sciences, there are two aspects of this world in which it seems to lose all determination by the living individual. One of these is that of the unity and organization of this world and its objects, and the other is that of the content of the object, especially of the scientific object.

The most summary fashion of presenting this loss of determination of the world by the individual is in the historical account of a world within which the living forms have arisen, and which by presupposition must be independent of the forms themselves. Whatever may be sakd of the sensuous characters and functional contents of objects in the environments of living individuals, the world that existed before them and out of which they emerged must, it seems, be open to a description that is entirely independent of any relation to the life-process and the forms in which it has been embodied. Over against this common-sense and logical presupposition stands in startling contrast the presupposition of relativistic doctrine that the selection of any consentient set is dependent upon a percipient individual, and this presupposition stands at the farthest remove of scientific presentation of the world. At least logically it antedates the appearance of any world and its objects.

The problem thus indicated Whitehead meets by the assump-

(355) -tion of the existence in nature of an indefinite number of time

systems. While the percipient event selects the time system that is cogredient with its operative past, the time system is there for selection, that is, different orders of the succession of events are there in nature. I have suggested the illustration of the revolution of the heavens about the earth or the alternative succession of the rotation of the earth upon its own axis. Any particular event involved is in either time system, or order of succession, and there is at least so much of an organization of these different time systems in nature that the statement of a coincidence of events, such as an eclipse, in one time system may be translated into the statement in another time system for the coincidence of the same events. Each time system represents a complete slab of nature, the whole universe from one standpoint, and the whole of nature is the sum of all these. There seems to be further indication of organization of these time systems in that there are successions of events in what we term a past and a future which must obtain in any time system, while there is a realm of succession in which what is contemporaneous in one system is not contemporaneous in another. I have hazarded, I presume incorrectly, the analogy of the distortions of spatial perspectives in, say, curved mirrors. However incongruous these distortions may be, they are all translatable into one another, and there are limits beyond which

these distortions may not go. So there are temporal perspectives, translatable into one another, and confined within limits beyond which it seems to us their distortions may not go. We can, then, reach back into the history of the world and read it with equal legitimacy in Ptolemaic or in Copernican terms, for each of these time systems was there, but the operative past of a contemporary of Ptolemy would counsel the selection of the succession of the rising of the sun to the going-down thereof, instead of the time system of Aristarchus, Copernicus' representative in Greek astronomy.

It is Whitehead's attitude toward the second aspect, the implied independence of the content of the object, i.e., its independence of the individual, which seems to me to present a

(356) serious difficulty not only in itself but also to Whitehead's view of the independent presence in nature of different time systems. That attitude I have already presented. It is that objects in nature which are ingredient in its events do not pass with the events. This tenet of Whitehead seems to be a simple datum of experience. Now that we realize that the spatial aspects of the Great Pyramid lie within the passage of nature, we are face to face with the fact that it is the same pyramid that has been there since its construction. Evidently the pyramid as an object does not pass. And this is true not only of the pyramid as an object or terminus of thought; it is true also of the termini of sense awareness. It is the same color that we view during the passing moments while we contemplate a painting. The spatial dimensions have passed, though their organization for our thought persists; but the color persists.

I have undertaken to show that, so far at least as the sensuous characters of events are concerned, this is not the only interpretation that can be given of experience. If we assume that sentience passes with nature there is no reason for assuming that the color has not passed also. This is, of course, a rejection of Whitehead's doctrine that the existence for us of the color is due to a cognitive relation, an awareness. I am maintaining the pragmatic doctrine that the sensuous characters emerge with the sentience of the form and that cognition represents a later phase of behavior and that it is due to this phase of behavior that the lasting characters enter. At least I am attempting to show that this is a possible interpretation of nature as a passage of events, even in its spatial dimensions. And it is not simply out of consistency with pragmatic doctrine that I am presenting this possibility, for it appears to me not only that the immediate findings of experience are that colors and objects do pass but also that scientific analysis, in retreating, as it is forced to retreat, to ultimate physical particles as its objects, loses also its time systems and the consentient sets and their organization together with the objects that can arise in them.


  1. See A. N. Whitehead, The Concept of Nature (Cambridge, 1920), p. 107.
  2. See Whitehead, The Principles of Natural Knowledge (Cambridge, 1919), pp. 115 ff.
  3. See Whitehead, The Principles of Natural Knowledge, pp. 78 and 82; The Principle of Relativity (Cambridge, 1922), p. 70; The Concept of Nature, pp.109-10, 188.
  4. The Concept of Nature, p. 188.
  5. The Principle of Relativity, pp. 30 ff.
  6. See The Principle of Relativity, pp. 315.
  7. The Principles of Natural Knowledge, pp. 70-71.
  8. The Concept of Nature, p. 109.
  9. See Boyd H. Bode, "Consciousness and Psychology," in Creative Intelligence, Dewey et al. (New York, 1917), pp. 228-81, esp. pp. 242 ff.

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