The guest article by T. Petrosov provides a metaphysical account of reality and its practical aspects. The author claims that only change exists, thus discussing at length its consequences for the notions of time and the I. Originally written in Armenian, the manuscript found its way to our website.
Principia Philosophica. Written by Tigran Petrosov.
I am grateful to Alexander Yourganov and Dmitry Kurinsky for their support and letting me share my thoughts; to Alexander Krapenitskiy for extensive editorial work and productive interaction; to my brother David and Erazik Harutyunyan for their help with the original essay in Armenian; to Vladimir Troyan for my first philosophical inspiration; to my parents for everything.
1. If I had an opportunity to choose between spending time with Socrates or Siddhartha and Chalmers or Wittgenstein, I would, without any doubts, prefer Socrates or Siddhartha.
2. Even though I would undoubtedly choose that, such a meeting wouldn’t indeed be light and pleasant leisure, but a frightening and challenging event for that occasion would be crucial for my life.
3. It shows what kind of philosophy is true for me. In this case, I don’t even need to have a reason for that. My consciousness knows better than my reasoning.
4. After the awakening from an academic dream, I realized that my constant doubts and uncertain melancholy due to the way of life that I had had from a very young age and the dissatisfaction of the mind by theoretical propositions that I studied were inseparable. Moreover, I won’t be satisfied, if I follow only one way, dismissing the other.
5. After getting knowledge of certain philosophical, religious, and scientific ideas, I didn’t find any linchpin that could unify everything and become the end of my search. Thus, I decided to take advantage of my own mind, which was the only way out of that state of affairs.
6. However, when I began this undertaking, my natural impulse turned into a vain and hollow movement of hubris, which I regret. Thereby, I had to turn down the results and start over many times. Eventually, I found the right way, in my opinion, to accomplish the work.
7. I didn’t write that work as a piece of literature. Instead, I recorded only the thoughts which I did discover in a specific state of quietude and concentration. Moreover, I have left only the thoughts that I did, in fact, experience as an immediate existence, which was immune to doubt. Therefore, it seems to me that these thoughts weren’t the mind’s games. Similarly, I tried to avoid two persisting but ancient vices: the striving to invent something original and the seeking of similitude and approval from an accepted authority. Also, it was vital to me to create completely transparent explicit work, which would have been as short as possible and deprived of literary and textual influence.
8. When the job was done, I noticed that even though I could see some consequent difficulties arisen by it, my thought and my impetus, which I’d had from the very beginning of my theoretical journey, calmed down. Also, now I should turn back to life, at least for the time being. And I wouldn’t be honest if I didn’t say that I had found that certain parts of this work, if not the rest, can give philosophy a new clear-cut way to comprehend its core questions.
9. Everything that exists1 changes2; and change is the only existence. I can’t find such a thing that wouldn’t be some kind of alteration, motion or in motion. Even a thing that I could consider as unchangeable, actually, changes as well – albeit only in time for me – otherwise, I couldn’t consider it as immovable. E.g., some idea of triangle or number (let it be 1) is supposedly immovable and unchangeable for me only because I think about it in correlation to alteration of other things in my mind. Therefore, it is actually a change of permanency, i.e. a change of something constant in time. Hence everything, that exists changes.
10. However, if change exists, time cannot exist. If a change takes place, it has some precise moments of change. Therefore, either there is no time, or there is no change. But change exists. That is, for a certain moment to exist, for example of my touch of another man it is necessary for my finger to pass the previous row of positions, and only this condition allows my finger to reach and touch another man. And exactly this is impossible if time exists. These moments cannot exist because they are the past. Any moment which exists now necessarily excludes the existence of any other moment in position of this time. It doesn’t matter how short a period has passed. Hence it is impossible for the past to be. Therefore, for time to be, if there is a touch of another man if there is a movement, kind of change. Consequently, time does not exist.
In a discussion of this thesis, I was criticized for using the spatial relation of change in the depiction of time. Here I answer to this and every analogous observation respectively. We could think about any state of affairs. For example, that nothing happens, or that nothing exists in space. That some state of affairs, no matter what things or processes are present, just proceeds to stay as it is. It does not have any other way out. The very state of absolute immobility and unchangeability or the state of absolute duration without material things at all is possible only on the same condition of a situation’s transition from the past to present. But precisely this is impossible if time exists for the same reason.
11. If time does not exist, then such thing as the cause can’t have an existence as well because it can exist only within time. E.g., the cause of me living now took place twenty-seven years ago. Moreover, I am sitting now because I sat down ten minutes ago. Therefore, it is impossible for the cause and its result to exist if time does not exist.
12. Thereby, it has to be understood that every moment of existence, any state of existence neither implies nor contains anything else except its very content. And this content neither implies a thing nor any past existence except its own that now exists as the past. It exists as the past, but it didn’t pass but has an existence out of time.
13. Hence neither any history nor content can be ground and cause for any existence. The history that I consider as the ground and cause of my actual state, my personality, in fact, cannot be the cause. It is not the reason. Moreover, neither one of the histories that I could imagine can be the cause of my state and my personality.
14. However, in this regard the question arises: if I am neither any history nor is connected with any cause then what am I? The first thing that I can think about is that I am a recipient of these histories and content. However, this is impossible. Discovering any perception is impossible. I cannot either say that I perceive something nor that I am the perception. Since my every thought and my every image, which presents itself to me as an I is, in fact, some existence that contains no separation. Indeed, “perception” only means that something does exist for me, and nothing more. But “does exist for me” only means that there is a feeling or thought that contains the idea of “I”, and nothing more. Consequently, a sense or thought of myself or something else is only the thing that exists, that contains within some change, that is.
15. The sense or thought that presents itself as an “I” is by no means differs from other content except its own content. To say: “I perceive” only means that “I” is some thought or some image, and no perception can be discovered. Therefore, we can say that there is no such concepts, perceptions, or perception as such, or the “I” concept cannot be found at all. It is senseless to talk about an I; the talk about an I becomes incomprehensible3.
16. Any other content that could be placed instead of this existence would be seen in the same way; for it would similarly seem like some perception and some history. However, in fact, there can be no perceiving subject. There is no such thing.
17. For the sake of convenience, I’ll proceed to use “I”, “we” and other words, since my purpose here is not to concern myself with language issues.
18. But if this existence can’t have any cause, why then is here such a content? How does it emerge and is founded? Three things are obvious here.
19. Firstly, this existence doesn’t contain and cannot contain anything that could clarify that very existence. Secondly, this state of affairs refers to some other existence, and this reference inevitably follows from the very state of affairs, though it (the other existence) does not present and cannot be discovered. Thirdly, there is no other existence for us [as present] not because we cannot know it, for there is no such thing as perception and subject; it isn’t here because the very existence has this exact form, and this is not a limitation of our cognitive abilities, but the very existence.
20. We can definitely say that every existence which originates from the idea of “I” is a mistake; it’s an erroneous existence. Anger, hubris, fear, envy and other well-known states of existence, which have their source in the idea of “I” are erroneous. However, we can’t say, what it means for them to be a mistake. Moreover, we can’t say what follows from it.
21. We cannot find any fault or merit in our action. “My” every existence excludes this possibility. I by no means can have private existence or somehow affect it. Every state of affairs that presents as my personal existence exists in the same way. There is no difference whether I have a sense of my will and fortitude, my strength and good deeds, of doing some good business; or a sense of my weakness and lack of will and doing of something bad. All this different content of existence always manifests itself in the same way. I am already going through some content and can’t somehow affect it. I can’t decide or choose what state of affairs and content will be now. They are already present, and the sense of “I” is just their integral part that by no means can be detached from them and discovered at all. And for this reason, it is impossible to find anything that could be responsible for merits or fault. So neither “merit” nor “fault” has any history or time.
22. The understanding of this situation will help to break free from the idea of “I”. It should be realized that any existence that can be instead of this one will be represented as “I”. For regardless of its content this existence will always be the same4.
About the author.
Tigran Petrosov is a university teacher of philosophy, logic, and Latin from Krasnodar, Russia.
He began his journey in philosophy back in his youth, having read Plato’s crucial dialogues by the age of 18. From 22 to 26 he was doing intensive systematic scrutiny of empirical science, religion, and philosophy.
Now, being 27, he continues to contemplate the nature of reality to achieve the satisfaction of his mind; at the same time, he is learning many modern and ancient languages, among which German, Latin, Ancient Greek, and Sanskrit.
You can get in touch with Tigran through his Facebook page.
- By existence, I understand everything that can be ever found and perceived, including thoughts and images. So, existence is taken in a broad sense. Therefore, here I do not distinguish between such philosophical ideas as substance and existence and do not detach one from the other.
- In the original Armenian version, I have used the terms շարժում, շարժել․ They mostly mean “movement, to move” (i.e. only spatial change), but can also mean “change” in general. To get rid of any possible ambiguity, however, in the English text we have decided to use terms “change, to change” instead, since here we talk about change in general – in space and in time.
- I consider this idea as a difficult one to convey completely unambiguously due to many peculiar implications that it leads to. Saying that there is no such thing as the subject or self, I mean it in the strict sense. Our image of the I, self, and perception depends on the following dichotomy: a perceiving subject and things that can be perceived only by me, like private thoughts, images, and feelings; everything external that, presumably, does not strictly depend on personal perception. However, the very ground of this dichotomy is erroneous for the way of existence of these two fields is absolutely the same. The idea of me as an internal perceiving being does not differ from the appearance of a table. Only the actual content is. Hence, I should not consider myself as some inner, separated from the common world actor of perceptions. “My” feelings, images, and thoughts are a part of the very existence, so are the things that allegedly are objects, but not me.
- It means that according to the content of images and ideas that I could have about my history and the world itself, the actual state of affairs would always be initially accepted as I, as my world because of the very form of existence. Thus, the emergence of feelings that provide strong emotions and feeling about myself as an individuum with a unique background and history is based on content that has no strong link to the world and can always be different. In any case, a given identity is neither the author nor the possessor of this identity in any respect and moment. It also means that each existence of this form will have similar ideas about the self, perceptions, and detached world.