The Philosophy of the Present

Chapter 3 The Social Nature of the Present

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The social nature of the present arises out of its emergence. I am referring to the process of readjustment that emergence involves. Nature takes on new characters, for example with the appearance of life, or the stellar system takes on new characters with the loss of mass by the collapse of atoms through the processes that go on within a star. There is an adjustment to this new situation. The new objects enter into relationship with the old. The determining conditions of passage set the conditions under which they survive, and the old objects enter into new relations with what has arisen. I am here using the term "social" with reference not to the new system, but to the process of readjustment. An outstanding illustration is found in ecology. There is an answer in the community in the meadow or the forest to the entrance of any new form, if that form can survive. When the new form has established its citizenship the botanist can exhibit the mutual adjustments that have taken place. The world has become a different world because of the advent, but to identify sociality with this result is to identify it with system merely. It is rather the stage betwixt and between the old system and the new that I am referring to. If emergence is a feature of reality this phase of adjustment, which comes between the ordered universe before the emergent has arisen and that after it has come to terms with the newcomer, must be a feature also of reality. It can be illustrated in the appearance of a planet upon the hypothetical approach of the stellar visitor that occasioned the origin of our planetary system. There was a period at which the substance of our

(48) own earth was part of the sun's revolving outer sheath. Now it is a body separated from the stellar mass, still revolving, but in its own orbit. The fact that the planet is exhibiting the same momentum in its distant orbit as that which carried it about the star before its advent as a planet, does not do away with the fact that there is now a planetary system where here was formerly only a single stellar body, nor with that stage in which the substance of the planet to be was in both systems. Now what we are accustomed to call social is only a so-called consciousness of such a process, but the process is not identical with the consciousness of it, for that is an awareness of the situation. The social situation must be there if there is to be consciousness of it.

Now it is clear that such a social character can belong only to the moment at which emergence takes place, that is to a present. We may in ideation recall the process, but such a past is not a reintegration of the affair as it went on, for it is undertaken from the standpoint of the present emergence, and is frankly hypothetical. It is the past that our present calls for, and it is tested by its fitting into that situation. If, per impossible, we were to reach that past event as it took place we should have to be in that event, and then compare it with what we now present as its history. This is not only a contradiction in terms, but it also belies the function of the past in experience. This function is a continual reconstruction as a chronicle to serve the purposes of present interpretation. We seem to approach this complete recall, if I may use this expression, in identifying the fundamental laws of nature, such as those of motion, which we say must have been and must always be what they are now; and it is here that relativity is most illuminating. It frankly reduces the sort of reality that could be the identical content of past, present and future to an ordered arrangement of events in a space-time that, by definition, could be

(49) as little in any past of scientific imagination as it could be found in our perceptual world. The geometry of space-time denies emergence unless it is brought in by way of Whitehead's metaphysics; and if I am not mistaken such a view must surrender the ordered geometry of space-time that Whitehead retains. Without emergence there are no distinguishable events thanks to which time emerges. The events and intervals to which the relativist refers are the constants that shake out of the elaborate mathematics which the realization of the social character of the universe has shown to be necessary.

The social character of the universe we find in the situation in which the novel event is in both the old order and the new which its advent heralds. Sociality is the capacity of being several things at once. The animal traverses the ground in pursuit of his prey, and is at once a part of the system of distribution of energies which makes his locomotion possible and a part of the jungle system which is a part of the life system on the surface of the inanimate globe. Now we recognize that if we are to estimate the energy of locomotion that he is going to expend we must take into account his ferocity, his state of hunger and the attraction or fear that his prey excites within him, and equally we recognize that if we are to estimate these characteristics of the form we must be able to measure the energy-expressions in his organism and in the environment. There is as genuine a sociality in his relation to his environment as in his relation to the prey or to his mate or to his pack, and the mark of it is that we habitually estimate characteristics that belong to the object as a member of one system by those which belong to it in another. So we measure motion by the distances covered in the consentient set at rest, or the dimensions of that set by the motions involved in measurement. The relativist discovered that this mutual estimation

(50) involved a change in the units of measurement, and that a transformation must be made if ideal exactness is to be attained. We Seem to be in the same situation in biology. Accurately to estimate the living process in energy distributions we should be able to transform inorganic physico-chemical process into organic process, which unfortunately we have not been able to do.

If we examine the bases of this estimation from one system to another we find two characteristics, one is the emergence of the event from the conditions under which it has appeared -- that which, as we have seen, gives rise to its history and may be brought under the general term of evolution. The second is the carrying on of identical conditions from the past into the present. The appearances of the planets, when related to the laws of mass and motion, fall into an ordered series, and from this standpoint the object is looked at as arising out of the old. From the standpoint of its emergence it is considered as in both systems, but only in so far common laws obtain in each. The substance of the arising planet is a piece of the sun, moving with the momentum which belongs to it in that capacity, and it is also an object in a system within which the sun has a definite mass that follows from the mass and motion of the planet with reference to the sun. In a similar fashion in Galilean dynamics accelerations and decelerations were emergents in a field of motion of masses in an absolute space.

It remained for relativity to set up motion itself as an entity which arises under certain conditions-those of frames of reference---out of logically antecedent conditions of events at intervals from each other within space-time. But these conditions no longer lie within the range of possible experience. It remains true however that what is motion from one standpoint within experience is rest from another. The relativity of motion had long been recognized. With the sur-

(51) -render of absolute space and the successful development of Einstein's general relativity, the emergence of motion and rest out of the more abstract situation that expresses what is common to both frames of reference or perspectives and appears in one as motion and in the other as rest, seems to be logically demanded. And yet, as I have just indicated, such a formulation takes us outside the scheme of development I have sketched above. It involves the relation of appearance and reality, of the subjective and the objectively real, not the relation of an emergent object arising out of the past to that which conditions it. We appear to have left an evolutionary philosophy of science and to be passing into a rationalistic phase in which reality is offered to us only in patterns of logic and mathematics. I suspect however that we are much too close to the great changes which have taken place within the last fifty years to be able to get them into their proper perspective.

I wish to suggest that the social character of the present offers another standpoint from which to regard this situation. I have spoken of the social implications of the emergent present as offered in the occupation by the new object of the old system and the new, sociality as given in immediate relation of the past and present. There is another aspect of sociality, that which is exhibited in the systematic character of the passing present. As we have seen, in the passage from the past into the future the present object is both the old and the new, and this holds for its relations to all other members of the system to which it belongs. Before the approach to our sun of the stellar visitor, the portion of the sun which became the earth was determined in its character by its relationships to those portions of the sun's substance which became the other planets. As it is drawn out into its planetary position it retains this character which arises from the former configuration and assumes the new character

(52) which is expressed in the perturbations of its orbit through the influences of its neighbors. The point is that a body belonging to a system, and having its nature determined by its relations to members of that system, when it passes into a new systematic order will carry over into its process of readjustment in the new system something of the nature of all members of the old. So in the history of a community, the members carry over from an old order their characters as determined by social relations into the readjustments of social change. The old system is found in each member and in a revolution becomes the structure upon which the new order is established. So Rousseau had to find both sovereign and subject in the citizen, and Kant had to find both the giver of the moral law and subject of the law in the rational being. To revert to the evolution of the planetary system, the earth's orbit still maps out the central sun of which it was a part, and its relative motions with reference to other members of the planetary system reflect their positions in the sun before the stellar visitor arrived.

I have referred to the increase in mass of a moving object as an extreme example of sociality. That is, if we keep this increase in mass within the field of possible experience, we have to treat the moving body as in two different systems, for the moving object has its own time and space and mass due to its motion, which time, space and mass are different from those of the system relative to which it is moving. The paradoxes arising out of this occupation of a different system on the part of a moving body are familiar. What I wish to point out is that we reach here the extreme limit of this sociality, for every body, thanks to its velocity, has a certain space-time and energy system. This velocity is, however, relative to the system within which the body is moving, and the body would have another velocity relative to another system moving with reference to the first. The body

(53) would then have an indefinite number of measurements of mass in the indefinite number of systems with reference to which it can be conceived of as moving. It is occupying all these different systems.

Now we may set up a metaphysical space-time, with its coincidences of events and its intervals, as the reality to which these frames of reference refer, or we may keep within the field of experience and use the transformation formulae which have been shown to be necessary for exact measurement. The question arises as to just what is involved in the use of the transformation formulae. In the immediate situations within which the relativity of motion is present in experience, such as the possibility of one's own train being in motion while the neighboring train is at rest, no transformation is required. In such cases we cover up the difference in time systems by saying that the differences in spatial and temporal dimensions are so impossibly small that they cannot be brought into application, that it is only when we reach velocities which approach that of light that appreciable differences arise and call for recognition. This is covering up a matter of fundamental importance. When a train is passing us it is in our own world of space and time. If we should take the relativistic standpoint and regard the train as at rest and the earth as rushing by it, we should indeed be passing from one perspective to another, but then the train would not be moving, and in the present case the train is moving. When we calculate the change in spatial, temporal and mass characters of an alpha particle which is shot out of an atom, we are treating it, of course, as in another space-time than our own, for we are giving to it the dimensions that belong to its space-time including the change in mass character. Now from the standpoint of Newtonian relativity two space-time systems are alternatives, they cannot both be applied to the same situation, except alternatively. But when we

(54) use the Lorentz transformation formula, we are giving the body the characteristics which belong to another space-time system and using the result in our own. This is confessed when the statement is simply made that a body increases its mass with its velocity, and we fail to add that the units of spatial and temporal measurement change also, that is, that we are in another frame of reference which is alternative to our own and cannot be simultaneously applied. We are told, however, that if an aeroplane were passing us at 161,000 miles a second we should see the foreshortening and the slowing down of the temporal extension of processes, that is, we should see in our own space-time system the effects of being in the other space-time system.[1] That is, the two frames of reference cease to be alternatives. In the case of the Fitzgerald foreshortening, there was no such assumption of being in both systems at once, but in this case there was no reference to difference in simultaneities.

Now Einstein undertakes to give the procedure by means of which we can be thus in one space-time system and record in it the effects of the differences due to the alternative space-time system. This procedure assumes first of all the uniform velocity of light as a fact in nature. In the second place on the basis of this uniform velocity of light a signal system is set up by which we can establish in our system that the same events are not simultaneous in the system that is moving with reference to ours as are simultaneous in our own. Furthermore, the effect of this difference can be made evident, as in the case of the passing aeroplane, through vision, that is, through light. What this amounts to is that as spatial perspectives arise for us in our static landscape, so there are discovered to be temporal perspectives over against moving

(55) objects in the landscape. This perspective character of a temporal sort is discoverable only over against motions of very great velocities, but the principle of them is as definitely given as in the case of the spatial perspectives. That principle is that dimensions as revealed by measurement must be foreshortened in the direction of the motion, provided this takes place in a visual field. If the velocity of light were infinite there would be no foreshortening, for then the light wave that left one end of an object would reach us at the same moment as the light wave from the other end, no matter how rapid the motion. It is then only when velocities approach that of light that such a perspective enters into experience, and then only indirectly as in the calculation of the change in mass of the particle shot out of the atom. But if we could see what is found in Eddington's suppositious airplane we should get the visual temporal perspective directly, for of course time slows down in proportion as spatial dimensions are foreshortened. The natural assumption would be that these temporal perspectives are to be regarded in the same light as are spatial perspectives. The real dimensions and the real temporal passage are what the passengers in the airplane find them to be, just as their distorted view of us is to be corrected by what we find to be about us and what we find to be going on about us.

It is at this point that the Larmor-Lorentz transformations and the negative results of the Michelson-Morley experiment enter. These transformations were worked out to indicate the mathematically stated conditions under which the Maxwell equations for electro-magnetism would be invariant. The Newtonian equations are invariant within the field of Newtonian mechanics. That is, they hold whatever center of origin is taken as the center of reference and, in the case of the relative motion of systems with uniform velocity, whichever system is regarded as moving. It was

(56) found that to obtain invariance for the Maxwell equations it was necessary to affect the symbols referring to space, time and energy, including mass, with a coefficient 1/c in which c is the uniform velocity in a vacuum of the electromagnetic wave, of which light is one form. The changes in spatial and temporal dimensions which this formula of transformation demands are those which the temporal perspectives, to which I have referred above, call for, and there is the same assumption of an absolute value for the velocity of light. Furthermore this transformation formula gives just the foreshortening of the earth's diameter in the direction of its motion in its orbit that accounts for the negative result of the Michelson-Morley experiment.

Apart from the striking coincidence in the results reached by means of the transformation formulae, Einstein's theory of relativity, and the result of the Michelson-Morley experiment, the outstanding fact is the common assumption of a constant velocity of light. In the case of the transformation formulae it is not surprising that the constant should be sought in so fundamental a character as the velocity of the electro-magnetic wave. In the case of relativity the possibility of measurement by light-signals in different time-space systems presupposes the uniformity of the velocity of light, and this is the explanation of the negative result in the Michelson-Morley experiment. "It means," I quote from Whitehead, "that waves or other influences advancing with velocity c as referred to the space of any consentient set of the Newtonian group will also advance with the same velocity c as referred to the space of any other such set."[2]

There should be added to the account of this conjunction the sweep of the atom out of the realm of mass mechanics into that of electro-magnetism, and the expression of energy

(57) distribution in terms of fields. The importance of these changes lies in the change of reference of reality as between distance and contact experience. Formerly, there was a close correlation between mass mechanics and perceptual reality. The reality of what we saw was to be found in what we could get under our hands, and what we got under our hands accorded in imagination with mass as the quantity of matter. But the still more important point was that we felt the reality to lie in the volume itself in abstraction from its relations , that the reality of the thing could be there in advance of the system into which it entered. All the varieties of what I have called spatial perspectives of the same objects refer to identical objects found in the field of contact experience -- of what we feel and see simultaneously-and this holds not only for our own perspectives but also for those of others. It finds its exact expression in congruence. What I have termed temporal perspectives do not occur in experience, except in such highly imaginative presentations as Eddington's airplane. But in perspectives which involve differences in simultaneities we seem to pass beyond the range of their perceptual resolution in the field of contact experience. We are compelled to bring them into accord by transformations. And this is just the situation which obtains in respect of the invariance of the Maxwell equations. The world from the standpoints of different space-time systems, with different values for the common units of space, time and energy, can only be assimilated by transformations. There is as close a parallelism between an electro-magnetic universe and the world of distance experience, that of visions, as between the world of mass mechanics and our contact experience.

However, there is a break in this complete correlation. As I have already indicated, the increase in mass of a moving body takes place in the space-time system within which

(58) it is moving, but the calculation of that increase in mass takes place by means of spatial and temporal units which belong to another space-time system, while the increase in mass is measured in the space-time system within which the motion is taking place. We actually find in measurement of our own pointer readings, with our own simultaneities, that the mass of the alpha particle has increased. We could discover that increase in mass without any use of the apparatus of relativity, but we account for it by a theory which implies that a clock on the alpha particle will be running slower than our clock, and it is by a calculation that involves the time of the alpha particle that we reach the change in mass which we discover in our own time system. In other words, the correlation breaks down at the point at which it is brought to the test of an experimental finding, which must have a reality of its own or it could not test the hypothesis. We must be able to state the facts involved in our own apparatus, clocks, electrometers in terms which are independent of the Lorentz transformations and the Einsteinian relativity. And in this world of final adjudication of the apparatus, the building that contains it and the ground on which it stands and its surroundings, the ultimate reality is not what belongs to distance experience, but to what can be presented in the contact experience which this distance experience promises or threatens. If we are not to go back of the field of experience into a metaphysical world of Minkowski space-time, with its events and intervals, we must come back to the perceptual world of scientific findings.

Let me state the situation again. The changes that take place in the field of electro-magnetism cannot be stated in a set of equations that are invariant for space and time. It is necessary to assume a different spatio-temporal structure in the field in which the change is going on. The clocks are going slower and diameters of things in the direction of the

(59) motion are decreased, while the mass is increased. These are changes which theoretically are all registered in the field which is at rest and within which the motion is taking place. But the calculation of them implies a spatio-temporal ordering which does not belong to that field. It implies another center of reference. The perceptual reality to which these changes in the field of distance experience refer differs according as they are taken from the standpoint of one field of reference or from another. This brings out the other striking character of the situation, that things whose substance belongs to the field of electro-magnetism cannot be defined in terms that allow of their being isolated as perceptual findings. For such definition it is necessary that a reality can be recognized in the thing that can be given in the spatio-temporal features of the perception-in pointer readings for example. This is the characteristic of mass, as I have insisted. Though we can define mass only in terms of a system of bodies in motion with reference to each other, we can think of the substance of the massive thing as found within the volume which we see or imagine, and can then put it actually or in imagination into relation with other things. Electricity as the substance of an electron can only be thought of in terms of its field and of the relations of that field with the fields of other electrons. Faraday's tubes of force and ether as a stuff have been used for the purpose of providing such an independent content, and have disappeared within our fingers. The fact is that science has come back to a structure of things that can be stated only in terms of distant experience so far as perception is concerned. This offers no difficulty in the structure of our theories. We know the amount of energy in a system and we can allocate it to the different members of that system, which can be located in space and time; but we cannot, so to speak, take a separate element in our fingers and say

(60) of it that this has a certain amount of energy within it which constitutes the "what it is" of the object, and then relate it to other things with like contents. Energy is conceivable only in terms of a system that is already there for the thought that deals with the thing. For the purposes of scientific method, the importance of contact experience does not lie in the greater reality of tactual or resistance experience over that of color or of sound, but in the fact that observation and experiment do come back to distance experience which must be itself directly or indirectly referred to what we can actually or conceivably get our hands upon. This remains the test of the reality of the perception, and is therefore the test of the scientist's finding in observation and experiment, and it is the condition of holding on to the fact as real in itself in independence of the varied hypotheses that are set up to account for it.

It has been customary to find the reality of the perception in the experience of the individual, and there have arisen all the multiform difficulties in placing this individual experience in the reality of the world to which he belongs, especially when such experience is used to criticize theories about that world. The scientist has been satisfied to find the same spatial and temporal structure in the individual's experience that he finds in the world, and thus to locate the individual's observations within the surrounding world, with all the exactness which spatio-temporal measurement makes possible. Now relativity, with the electro-magnetic theory out of which it has so largely arisen, has not only vastly complicated the spatio-temporal theory of measurement, but it has also reversed what I may call the reality-reference. Instead of saying that the reality of the perspectives of our distance experience is to be found in that contact experience which is firmly bedded in the geometry of a Euclidean space and the even flow of a uniform time, we must say that it is

(60) only as we can read over this seemingly Euclidean space of our contact world into perspectives dependent upon the motion of distance objects and discover transformation formulae between these that we can reach the reality of what we perceive. Furthermore we cannot proceed as we prefer to proceed, with perceptual models, and build up, say, a Bohr atom out of a number of protons and electrons welded into a nucleus around which we can set other electrons in planetary revolutions. The positive and negative electricity which we use as the stuff of these ultimate particles does not submit to such imaginative perceptual analysis. We may talk about the diameter of an electron or seek to locate its electrical charge, but the substantial character of electricity cannot be thus isolated, and the Bohr atom has broken down. In recent speculation it has been found convenient to deal with matter as a form of vibration, but there is no meaning in seeking for that which vibrates.

And yet the dependence of scientific theory upon perceptual findings was never more pronounced, and it is to this dependence that I would direct attention. As I have indicated the alternative seems to be a reference to a metaphysical world that can only be assumed, together with the assumption that the logical patterns which we find in our own world have correlates in this metaphysical world. In the meantime our experience becomes subjective except in so far as our thought relations may be guessed to transcend our frames of reference. In the pre-relativity days the spatial and temporal structure of the observed fact was that of the universe. However relative to the observer the sense qualities of the observed object might be, its perceptual definition in space and time gave it fixed contour and location within the relational structure which for the scientist at least was the absolute structure of the world, and in mass mechanics the substantial content of any volume could be

(62) thought of as residing within that defined volume. Perception gave both the logical structure of reality and the defined habitat of substance. The earlier theory of gases and of heat as a form of motion is outstanding illustration of the simplicity of this situation. Now neither the relational structure of reality nor the locus of its substance is to be found in the perceptual situation. But since the scientist can never reach the metaphysical space-time with its events and intervals except by an assumption, and since he can never grasp the entire field of any energy content, he is obliged to test his hypotheses by placing himself both in his own perceptual situation of, say, a system at rest and also in that of the system which moves with reference to his own, and to compare the spatio-temporal structures of the two systems. He proceeds by transformations, but they are transformations which are possible only as the observer grasps that in his own situation which involves his placing himself in the situation of that which he observes. Although this is more complicated, it comes back in its findings to perceptual occasions. Now this is only possible if that sociality of thought in which we occupy the attitude of the other by taking our own divergent attitude is also a characteristic of nature. Newtonian relativity permitted the observer to transfer himself from one system to the other and to note that the relative positions of bodies in the two systems remained the same whichever system he occupied, and that the laws of mechanics were satisfied in either case. But electromagnetic relativity exhibits results within our system which compel us to have recourse to the other system with its space-time structure in order to account for them. Under Newtonian relativity sociality was confined to thought. Given the two systems moving with reference to each other, the conditions of either will forever remain the same, uninfluenced by the motion or rest of the other. Under electro-

(63) -magnetic relativity the mass of the moving object increases in the system at rest, and this involves the different spatial and temporal coefficients of the other system. It is this break in what I have called the correlations between differences of space and time in different systems which reveals in the perceptual world that sociality in nature which has been generally confined to thought. The increased mass in the system at rest must also coincidentally be moving according to its own clock and in a space measured by its own yardstick, in order that there may be an increase in its mass within the other system. We have already seen that there is sociality in nature in so far as the emergence of novelty requires that objects be at once both in the old system and in that which arises with the new. Relativity reveals a situation within which the object must be contemporaneously in different systems to be what it is in either. The experimental proofs of relativity all come back to such situations.

I have pointed out that this is no novelty in science, though it has always implied an unsolved problem. We find it in teleology in biology and in consciousness in psychology. The animal species is in the mechanical system determined both by past conditions and also by tendencies to maintain itself in the future. The conduct of the conscious organism is determined both by a physiological system from behind and also by a consciousness which reaches into the future. This can of course take place only in a present in which both the conditioning past and the emergent future are to be found; but, as these problems indicate, what is further called for is the recognition that in the present the location of the object in one system places it in the others as well. It is this which I have called the sociality of the present. If we examine the situation from the standpoint of relativity, we see that the very motion that is taking place within the system at rest carries with it a different spatio-

(64) -temporal structure, which is responsible for an increase of mass within the system at rest. If we translate this into the other two situations, we see a biochemical process arising which we call life, but which so changes the conditions under which it goes on that there arises in nature its environment; and we see living forms selecting those past conditions which lead to future maintenance of life and thus introducing values and later meanings into nature.

If we ask for the past that conditions the emergence of the present we can find no other formulation for it than this, that whatever emerges must be subject to the conditioning character of the present, and that it must be possible to state the emergent in terms of the conditioning past. In Newtonian relativity, in the case of unaccelerated motion of two systems with reference to each other, the conditioning past was summed up in the dictum of the same relative position of the bodies of the two systems and the same mechanical situation whichever system was regarded as in motion. In this situation there is no emergence. If into this Newtonian relativity we now introduce the Special Principle of relativity we have the emergence of new characters of the moving body in the system within which it moves, because of its motion. And if we describe the body under the old conditions we must reduce it to rest, which only can occur without loss of the reality which the emergent motion brings with it if we set in motion the other system with the emergent changes appearing in that system. In the case of General Relativity, Einstein undertook the task of formulating the universal conditions under which the changes in the spatio-temporal structure of the universe seem to take place -those changes which are due to motion, accelerated as well as unaccelerated. He has shown that these are also conditions for changes in mass, and is at work upon the task of showing that the same is true for electromagnetism.


Now the principle of sociality that I am attempting to enunciate is that in the present within which emergent change takes place the emergent object belongs to different systems in its passage from the old to the new because of its systematic relationship with other structures, and possesses the characters it has because of its membership in these different systems. While this principle has been evidenced most clearly in the doctrine of relativity as applied to physical theory, it is here least evident for our experience because the changes in mass, for example, due to the velocities with which we are familiar are so minute that the changes in Newton's law lie in the field of distant decimals. On the other hand electro-magnetic relativity has succeeded in presenting the form of the emergent with great exactness. We know the type of changes that will take place if any velocity appears within a certain system. Here we deal simply with the relation of the structures of space and time to motion. If we turn to the other two examples of sociality I have adduced-that of life and that of consciousness -- we find ourselves in highly complex situations that are but dimly comprehended. We find that what understanding we have of life involves a reference to the future in the maintenance of the form and of the species. We know the life process is a physico-chemical process, but what the exact character of the process is we do not know as we know the character of a velocity. We do know, however, that the life processes are not confined to the organism, but taken as wholes include interactions between the organism and its surroundings, and we call that surrounding world, in so far as it is involved in these processes, the environment of the form and its species. That is, we recognize that emergent life changes the character of the world just as emergent velocities change the character of masses. And we know that what we call conscious processes are physiolog-

(66) -ical processes, and that those processes which we generally call behavior utilize their organized adjustments in order to select the objects to which they respond, and that as a result of this behavior things within the environment of these living conscious forms take on values and meanings. We know that conscious processes are dependent upon a high development of an encephalon which is the outgrowth of the nervous mechanism of distance stimulation and of the delayed responses which distant stimuli make possible. The whole of such a nervous system provides both the field and the mechanism for selection with reference to distant futures, and this selection endows surrounding objects with the values and meanings which this future subtends. But what the physiological process is which puts at the disposal of the individual organism its highly organized responses for the purposes of discrimination and selection no one knows. There is, however, a great contrast between application of the principle of sociality in these different fields. In the field of physical relativity we know the process of motion with great exactness, but there are but three or four recondite experiments in which we can bring into our experience the effects which velocities have in changing the characters of things. On the other hand, the effects that result from living and conscious processes are evident on every side, while the nature of the processes has hitherto been shrouded in impenetrable obscurity. But in all three of these fields the principle of sociality nevertheless obtains. In all three there is emergence, and the character of this emergence is due to the presence in different systems of the same object or group of objects. Thus we find that in one system with certain space, time and energy characters, an object moving with a high velocity has an increased mass because it is characterized by different space, time and energy coefficients, and the whole physical system is thereby affected. In like

(67) manner, it is because an animal is both alive and a part of a physico-chemical world that life is an emergent and extends its influence to the environment about it. It is because the conscious individual is both an animal and is also able to look before and after that consciousness emerges with the meanings and values with which it informs the world.


  1. Eddington, "Space, Time, and Gravitation," page 22 ff. For a more balanced account of the relativist theory the reader may consult A. Metz, "Temps, Espace, Relativité."
  2. "Principles of Natural Knowledge," 2nd ed., page 43.

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