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as the only relation between past and future ; for this view
would reduce everything to an absolute and groundless be-
coming. In that case, the present would not be founded in
the past, and would not found the future. All continuity
would be dissolved, and every phenomenon would be a
groundless and opaque fact. But even Heraclitus, who first
taught that all things flow, and who made becoming the
principle of existence, held that the preceding moments in
the flow condition the succeeding, and that the course of
the flow is subject to inexorable necessity ; something as
we might say that the laws of mechanics rule the ongoings
of the physical universe. Fixity in the flow, marking out
its channel and determining its bounds, was to him as prom-
inent a principle as the flow itself. No more does the sci-
entist or philosopher regard change as groundless ; it must
have both law and ground. Hence it is not a change of



CHANGE AND IDENTITY 47

anything into everything, but the direction of change, for
everything is fixed. For physics we might formulate the
doctrine of change as follows : A given element, J., may,
under the proper conditions, pass into A v A z , A 3 , etc. ; and,
by reversing the conditions, we may pass from A 3 back
to A again. Likewise another element, B, may, under the
proper conditions, run through the series B v B v B y etc.
C may pass through the series C v C v C y etc. From any
member of the series, as a base, we can pass to any other,
by properly arranging the conditions. But, throughout
this process, there is nothing lawless and groundless. A
can pass into A 1 only under some definite condition, and
cannot pass into anything else under that condition. Hence
change, in its scientific and philosophic sense, implies causal
continuity of being, and is identical with becoming. The
past founded the present, and the present founds the future,
but everywhere there are ground and law.

The demand for permanence in being and the necessity
of recognizing change and providing for it in being have
resulted in two conceptions of the basal reality. At an early
date the Eleatics defined the basal principle as being, which
they viewed as unitary and changeless existence,. They
thought under the law of identity and provided for per-
manence. At about the same date Heraclitus defined the
basal principle as becoming, which he regarded as a contin-
uous process. He thought under the law of connection and
sufficient reason and provided for change. For him noth-
ing ever is in the sense of a fixed existence, but only in the
sense of a continuous becoming. The process alone abides ;
its phases, which we call things, are forever coming and
going. This view has had such influence in philosophy that
it deserves further exposition.

The Heraclitic conception of being as a flowing process
may be illustrated by the case of variable motion. In this



48 METAPHYSICS

case, the moving body never has a fixed velocity for any
two consecutive moments, but is constantly acquiring one;
and we measure its velocity at any instant by the space it
would pass over in the next moment if its velocity should
instantly become uniform. Now at any indivisible instant
the body has a fixed velocity, but this fixed velocity is in-
cessantly changing to another. We might say, therefore,
that the velocity never is, but perpetually becomes. Again,
a point moving in a curve has a fixed direction for only one
indivisible instant that is, for no time; but we define its
direction to be that of the tangent-line to the curve at the
point, and instant, of measurement. For purposes of cal-
culation, we say that the point moves in a straight line for
an infinitesimal distance, but, in truth, the point never moves
in a straight line. Now, in this case, we must say that the
point has a fixed direction only for an indivisible instant.
Any direction which it may have at any instant is inces-
santly giving place to another. We may say here, again,
that the direction of the point never is in the sense of en-
during, but is forever becoming.

This illustrates the conception of being which rules in the
system of becoming. Nothing is in the sense of enduring,
but is always becoming. There are perpetual coming and
going ; and as soon as a thing is, it passes, and gives place
to its consequent. All being is comprised in an order of
antecedence and sequence ; and the antecedent must yield
to its consequent, which, in turn, becomes antecedent, and
likewise passes. There is nothing fixed but law, which de-
termines the order and character of the flow. Even when
there is seeming fixedness, as when A remains A, instead
of passing into A v A v A a , etc., thus producing the appear-
ance of change even this is not to be viewed as an ex-
ception to the.universal flow of being, but is to be regarded
as a continuous reproduction of A, so that the series is as



CHANGE AND IDENTITY 49

real as in the other cases ; only being of the form A, A, A,
there is no appearance of change. The A, in this case, is
like a wave where two currents meet, or like a musical note.
Both appear constant only because they are incessantly re-
produced. 0r it is like the flame of a lamp when undis-
turbed. It seems to be a resting thing ; but it is only the
phenomenon of a continuous process of combustion. "We
call it a thing, while it is really a process. In the case of
the changing velocities, no one of them abides ; that which
is permanent is the order of change itself. So, in the doc-
trine of becoming, the process alone is permanent. The
forms of the process, which we call things, are forever com-
ing and going.

Many have sought to find a contradiction in the notion
of becoming, but they fail to notice the continuity and uni-
versality of the process. Of course, if we affirm a perma-
nent and changeless substratum in being, there is no diffi-
culty in showing that change cannot be combined with such
a factor. But the disciple of Heraclitus denies the existence
of any such factor. For him, all is changing, except the
changeless laws of change. If A becomes A v the objector
conceives A as first ceasing to be A, and then, after a void
period, becoming A r Such a notion of change would, in-
deed, be absurd ; but the Heraclitic holds no such view.
He holds that A does not first cease to be A, and then be-
come A v but it ceases to be A in becoming A l ; and it be-
comes A^ in ceasing to be A ; just as a body with variable
motion does not first lose one velocity and then acquire an-
other, but it loses one in acquiring another. The losing and
the acquiring are the same fact seen from opposite sides.
So, also, the ceasing of A and the becoming of A l are the
same fact seen from opposite sides. Seen from behind, it is
the ceasing of A ; seen from before, it is the becoming of
A r Now it is only in this sense that change implies that



50 METAPHYSICS

A is both A and J., at the same time. There is no indivis-
ible instant in which A rests as both A and A v but one in
which A ceases to be A and becomes A l ] precisely as a
moving point never moves with two velocities in the same
direction at the same moment ; but, in an indivisible instant,
it ceases to move with one velocity and begins to move with
another. But the fact that the one indivisible flow divides
itself for our thought into two factors a ceasing and a be-
coming involves no more contradiction than the fact that
the same curve is both concave and convex when seen from
opposite sides. With this understanding of the doctrine of
change or becoming, we return now to the problem with
which we started : Can change and identity be reconciled ;
and, if so, how ?

The Eleatics denied the possibility of reconciliation. Ei-
ther, they held, excludes the other ; and as being was the
exclusive category of their system, they denied the reality
of change. This view has been partially reproduced in
modern times by Herbart. The Hegelians, also, have held
to the necessary contradiction between change and identity,
but only with the aim of illustrating their principle, that all
reality consists in the union of contradictions. All definite
existence, in their view, is formed by the union of being
and non-being. The solution of the difficulty furnished by
spontaneous and uncritical thinking consists in the notion
of a changeless thing with changing states or changing
qualities. These change, but the thing remains constant.

We have in this popular view a division of labor similar
to that in the popular conception of being. There we had
a rigid core of duration, which simply existed and supplied
the being. In addition to this, there was a certain set of
forces, in somewhat obscure relations to the being, which
furnished the activity. Here we have the same core of



CHANGE AND IDENTITY 51

duration, which provides for the identity, and a swarm of
conditions, states, and qualities, which look after the change.
The identity is located in the core of being, and the change
is attributed to the states and qualities. Without doubt,
the children of the dragon's teeth will find in this view the
final utterance of reason and an end of all discussion ; but,
still, we must insist that this conception of the changeless
thing with changing states is only a spontaneous hypothesis
of the mind, whose adequacy to the work assigned it must
be inquired into.

A moment's reflection serves to show the untenability of
this popular view. A state of a thing is not something ex-
ternally attached to the thing, but is really a state of the
thing, and expresses what the thing is at the time. Any
other conception throws us back into the external concep-
tion of inherence, which we have rejected, and makes the
thing useless as an explanation of its states. For, if the
thing itself does not change in the changes of its states,
there is no reason why the states should change, or why
their changes should follow one direction rather than an-
other. The thing itself must found and determine its
cjaauges, or they remain unfounded, ana gromy|less. But,
to do this, the thing itself must undergo an essential change ;
for if A remain A, instead of becoming A v there is no
ground why any of the manifestations of A should change.
The external change must be viewed as the external mani-
festation of an internal change. A change between things
must depend upon a change in things. Now when we re-
member that the only reason for positing things is to pro-
vide some ground for activity and change, it is plain that
the changeless core is of no use, and must be dropped as
both useless and unprovable. It will, indeed, go very hard
with the dragon's children to give up this core of rigid
reality, but even they may free themselves from the delu-



52 METAPHYSICS

sion by persistently asking themselves what proof there is
of such a core, and of what use it would be, if it were there.
There is no help for it ; if being is to explain change, change
must be put into being, and being must be brought into the
circle of change. In what sense a thing remains the same
we shall see hereafter; here we point out that it is impos-
sible to reserve any central core of being from change, but
being must be viewed as changing through and through.

Another attempt to solve the problem differs in word
rather than in meaning. This theory assumes that things,
in themselves, are changeless, but their relations change,
and thus there arises for us a changing appearance, which,
however, does not affect the underlying realities. This is
the common view of physicists. It resolves the phenomenal
world into an appearance, and places a mass of changeless
and invisible atoms beneath it. This, like the previous
view, is sufficient for practical purposes, but it is equally un-
tenable, for that change of relations must be accounted for.
If we conceive these changeless elements in a given relation,
A, there is no reason why they should ever pass into a new
relation, B. Conversely, if they do pass into the new re-
lation B, this is thinkable only on the supposition of a
change in the activity of some or all of the elements ; and
this, as we have seen, implies a change in the things them-
selves. Without this admission the relations remain in-
dependent of the things, and unexplained by them. It is
impossible to find relief in this conception.

The same criticism applies to Herbart's notion of "acci-
dental views" (zufallige Ansichten). According to him,
the changes of things are only in appearance, and are due
entirely to the changing position of the observer. Thus
the same line might be a side, a chord, a tangent, a sine, a
cosine, or a diameter, according to its relation to other lines,
and yet it would be the same line in all these relations.



CHANGE AND IDENTITY 53

The relations would be accidental. According to the posi-
tion of the observer, therefore, the same thing may appear
in widely different relations, yet without any change in it-
self. The change, then, is phenomenal and accidental, rather
than essential. But this view, when applied to the exter-
nal world, is utterly incredible. It denies all change in the
substantial universe, and reduces the manifold changes of
the system to occurrences in us. But, even if this view
were credible, the difficulty would not be escaped, but trans-
ferred. Change would be removed from the outer world to
the inner; but, as the knowing mind also belongs to the
realm of being, and is, indeed, the only being of which we
have immediate experience, the difficulty remains the same.
Apart, then, from the inherent incredibility of Herbart's
view, it fails to meet the purpose of its invention. The
same considerations apply to the proposition to view change
simply as a succession of phenomena, as when qualities suc-
ceed one another, or when images succeed one another on
a screen. It may be that the physical world is only a suc-
cession of phenomena in our minds; but that succession
must be caused by something and perceived by something ;
and thus the change, which is eliminated from the phenom-
ena, must be found in the producing agent and in the per-
cipient mind. We may, then, locate the change variously,
but it is strictly impossible to eliminate change from being,
or to reserve any core in being from the cycle of change.
We are forced to bring the substances of the universe into
the stream of change, and resign them, in some sense, to
the eternal flow. Being is process. Things are forever pro-
ceeding from themselves, and, in proceeding, they become
something else.

But, before going further, some objections must be con-
sidered, which have long been struggling for utterance. It
will be said that, in the series A, A v A^ etc., A v A v etc.,



54 METAPHYSICS

are all states of A, and that A is the same throughout.
The answer is, that -4, is no more a state of A than A is a
state of A v or of A v etc. Which of these forms shall be
taken as the base depends upon experience. When a given
form is familiar to us, we regard it as the thing, and other
possible forms as its states ; but, in truth, any one form is
as much the thing as any other. Thus we view water as
the thing, and speak of ice and vapor as states of water ;
but, in fact, ice and vapor are no more states of water than
water is a state of them. But here it will be further urged
that, through all these states, the substance remains the
same. It is the same essence of being which appears now
as A, and now as A v etc. But we have seen, in the previous
chapter, that the essence itself is nothing but the concrete
law of action, and that there is no rigid core of being in the
thing. Hence the identity of a thing does not consist in a
changelessness of substance, but in the continuity and con-
stancy of this law.

In further criticism of the objection, we must ask what
is meant by sameness ; and, for the sake of progress, we
venture the following exposition : A, under the appropriate
circumstances, can run through the series A v A v A 3 , etc.
B runs through the series JB V B v B^ etc. C runs through
the series C v C v <7 3 , etc. Now, as long as we remain in
the physical realm, these series can be reversed by reversing
the conditions, so that from A n we can recover A. But, in
thus reversing the series, provided all the other conditions
remain the same, there is a complete quantitative and qual-
itative equivalence between the members restored in the
regress and the corresponding members lost in the progress ;
that is, A m will be in all respects the same, whether reached
by a progress from A M _ } or by a regress from A m+v The
indestructibility of matter means nothing more than the
possibility of working these series back and forth without



CHANGE AND IDENTITY 55

quantitative loss. When it is made to mean more, it is al-
ways on the strength, not of facts, but of some alleged in-
tuition into the nature of substance. Now the only sense
in which A l is the same as A, or in which the substance of
A l is the same as that of A, is that A l can be developed
from A, and, conversely, A can be developed from A r
There is a continuity between A, A v A v etc., which does
not exist between A, B, and (7, and that continuity is the
fact that A v A v etc., can be developed from A, and not
from B or C. These, in turn, can only produce B v B v
etc., or C v (7 2 , etc. "Without doubt, the disciple of the
senses will fancy that there is a core of being which holds
A v A y etc., together, and differentiates them from B and
C\ but this fancy has been sufficiently considered. Such a
core explains nothing to the reason, and is only an embar-
rassment. We repeat, then, that in impersonal ontology a
thing in different states is the same only in the sense of a
continuity of law and relation. Absolute sameness or change-
lessness is impossible in impersonal reality. This concep-
tion of sameness is incompatible with change of any kind,
and must be repudiated.

But our view of change suggests another difficulty, as
follows : If A really becomes A v and ceases to exist as A,
the unity of the thing seems to disappear, and A, A v A v
etc., appear as different things. This difficulty we have
now to consider. The charge that our view cancels the
unity of the thing rests upon the assumption that A is com-
posed of A l plus A v etc. In this case, A would not be a
unit, but the sum of A^ plus A v etc. But this view is an
error. When A exists, it is simply and solely A, and A v
A v etc., have no existence whatever. A is strictly a unit,
but such a unit that, under the proper circumstances, it
becomes A r A v again, when it has become, is the only
member of the series which is real. It does not contain A



56 METAPHYSICS

concealed within itself; it is purely itself. Misled by the
Aristotelian notions of potentiality and actuality, specula-
tors have largely assumed that A v A v etc., exist preformed
and potentially in A ; but this means only that A is such,
not that it will develop A v A v etc., but that it will develop
into them ; and when developed into them it is A no long-
er. In any other sense, potential existence is no existence.
We may say, rhetorically, that the oak exists in the acorn ;
but, in truth, the oak does not exist at all, but an acorn
exists. This acorn, however, is such that, under the proper
conditions, an oak will be developed. The phrase potential
existence is due to an effort of the imagination to compre-
hend how one thing can develop into another; and the
fancy is entertained that the problem is solved if we con-
ceive the future development to be already concealed in
the present reality. But, in fact, this view denies develop-
ment ; for, in the case assumed, there is no development,
but only a letting loose of potentialities, which are also, and
always, realities. Where there is a true development, the
thing developed absolutely becomes. Our doctrine of change,
therefore, does not conflict with the unity of the thing, for
the thing is never A and A^ and A z at the same time, but
only some one member of the series, and, as such, is one
and indivisible.

But this makes the other part of the objection still more
prominent. How can J., A v A y etc., be distinguished from
a series of different things? They do, indeed, follow one
another according to a certain law, but each ceases to be
when its consequent begins. A l is not A, although it is
produced from J., no more than ice is water because it can
be produced from water. It is not meant that these differ-
ent things are externally produced, for they really proceed
from one another ; but when they are produced, they are
different things. The members of the series A, A v A v etc.,



CHANGE AND IDENTITY 57

are related as cause and effect, although, by reversing the
conditions, any one may be cause and any one may be effect.
But there is no reason for affirming any further unity in the
series than this ; and there is no reason for declaring that
they are only different states of one and the same thing.
One member is as much the thing as any other, and one
member is as much a state as any other. And, since the
notion of the same thing in different states is well calculated
to mislead us, we point out that, in a system of absolute be-
coming, this notion of a state is inapplicable. To warrant
its use, there must be some permanent factor which can
abide through the changes and distinguish itself from them.
But in this system there is no such factor. Indeed, the con-
scious self is the only thing we know of which is capable of
having states. It distinguishes itself from its affections, and
affirms itself as abiding through them. But, where all is
flow, the thing and the state vanish together ; and we can-
not speak of the next member as a state of the preceding,
for the preceding member has disappeared. A permanent
factor of some sort is necessary, to justify the conception of
one thing with various states; and thus it becomes still
clearer that A, A v A v etc., must be regarded as different
things, having no other connection than a mutual inter-
convertibility according to a certain law, like the various
forms of energy.

And here we must say that the conception is sufficient
for all purposes of science and daily life. The possibility
of working the series back and forth, under definite con-
ditions, without quantitative loss, is all that the physicist
needs to know. Whether it be the same substance through-
out the series, or substance incessantly reproducing itself
according to a fixed law, is quite indifferent to physical
science. Doubtless it would not be difficult to find some
one with an " intuition " of the absurdity of the latter view ;



58 METAPHYSICS

but intuitions are seldom resorted to, unless argument fails.
Certainly no one whose opinion deserves attention will
claim any intuition on this point. Thus we fall back again
into the doctrine that all things flow. Reality is incessant-
ly reproducing itself, either in the form J., A, A, thus pro-
ducing the appearance of permanence, or in the form A,
Ay A v etc., thus producing the appearance of change;
but the flow is as real in one case as in the other. Now
in the series A, A v A v A 3 , etc., which is the thing ? We
cannot make the thing the sum of the series, for that would
destroy the unity of the thing, and would imply that all
the members of the series co-exist. The truth is, that each
member is the thing, whenever that member acts, and the
several members are the same thing only in the sense that
each may be developed from the other. In any other sense
they are different things. Conceived ontologically, every-
thing changes to its centre, and, by changing, becomes
something else, similar or dissimilar.

The current notion of a thing, we have said, is that of a
changeless substance with changing states. The change-
lessness we have been forced to give up ; and now it seems
that we must abandon any ontological distinction between
the thing and its states. The same thing ontologically, it
would seem, cannot exist in different states, for, in taking
on a new state, it becomes a new thing. We may illustrate
this view by the conservation of energy as rhetorically mis-
understood. In the correlations of energy there is nothing
which glides unchanged from one phase to another, but
each phase expresses the entire energy as long as it lasts ;
and when it produces a new phase it vanishes into its
effect. Nothing is constant but law and numerical relation.
So a thing, viewed ontologically, is identical with its phases
while they last, and when it passes from one to another



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