In his 1908 book Identity and Reality, Emile Meyerson wrote:
“The principle of causality is none other than the principle of identity applied to the existence of objects in time.”
(p. 43 in the 1930 translation)
In her 1957 novel Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand wrote:
“The law of causality is the law of identity applied to action.”
Would it be consistent to affirm the mind-independent reality of actions and causal relations in the world, yet take time to be not in the mind-independent world? I don’t see how. The unreality of time, a thesis maintained by the metaphysical idealists such as Bradley, should be rejected in Rand’s philosophy. Kant’s idea that time is a form supplied by our cognitive systems, and not known to be in the world as it is independently of mind, should also be rejected.
The reality of time is manifest in perception. Time is part of the identity of existents. In addition it is experienced in our own activities.
In Rand’s ontology, an existent is an entity, an action, an attribute, or a relationship. Which of these is time? Surely it is not an entity in Rand’s ontology. An existent that does not necessarily exist as inhering in some other existent is an entity. But time does necessarily inhere in something else. So time is not an entity in Rand’s ontology.
Time is distinct from action. Change is taken under the latter. Time is distinct from action and change and from the relation that is causality too. Time must be an attribute or relation or both. Does Rand’s metaphysics imply which of those three is the existent that is time?
Jordan, in your first paragraph, are you asking whether time inheres always and only in causal processes according to Rand’s metaphysics? Rand’s remarks on action make the common assumption that action is temporal. Because time is an attribute or relation or both, it must inhere in entities. The question would remain, however, whether time inheres in entities only as an attendant of action. Is there an argument from Rand’s ontology to the conclusion that time exists only in connection with action? And if so, is there an argument from Rand’s ontology to the conclusion that time exists only in connection with the causal aspects of action?
Whether Rand's statement in the second paragraph above entails Meyerson's in the first would depend on whether they both tie the existence of time to action and only action.
Does the fact that existence exists entail that existence endures? Are there existents, according to Rand’s metaphysics, for which it is possible that they do not enter into temporal relations? Rand did not allow that there could be an existent (leaving aside existence as a whole) not related to other existents. She writes:
Measurement is the identification of a relationship in numerical terms—and the complexity of the science of measurement indicates the complexity of the relationships which exist in the universe . . . . If anything were actually “immeasurable,” it would bear no relationship of any kind to the rest of the universe, it would not affect nor be affected by anything else in any manner whatever, it would enact no causes and bear no consequences—in short, it would not exist. (ITOE 39)
In Rand’s metaphysics, that which one perceives exists, and “everything that man perceives is particular, concrete” (ITOE 1). The particular, concrete existents subsumed under “the concepts ‘existence’ and ‘identity’ are every entity, attribute, action, event, or phenomenon (including consciousness) that exists, has ever existed or will ever exist” (ITOE 56). All particular, concrete existents stand in temporal relations, in Rand’s view. If there are any particular, concrete existents that are not perceivable, then at least they are susceptible to measurement of some sort and therefore stand in temporal relations.
Rand packs quite a bit into her epigram “Existence is identity” (which can be extended). She also packs quite a lot into her foundational statement “Existence exists.” She takes this two-word statement to include not only the idea that existence endures, but that it endures through all times. “To grasp the axiom that existence exists, means to grasp the fact that nature, i.e., the universe as a whole, cannot be created or annihilated, that it cannot come into or go out of existence” (M v. MM; see further a, b).
Dean, concerning #3,
Would time be just one measure, among others, of how much the world has changed? In the decay of a certain bit of uranium, the amount of uranium remaining would be a measure of how much the bit has changed. The increase of wrinkles on my hands are a measure of how much their skin has changed. Is time a universal measure on which all these other measures depend?
I notice that changes in numbers of things is a dimensionless quantity, whereas time is not a dimensionless quantity (seconds, hours, etc.). That would suggest that changes in numbers of things is a more elementary measure of change than time is a measure of change.
(Edited by Stephen Boydstun on 2/02, 10:42am)