In philosophy, the concept of becoming originated in eastern ancient Greece with the philosopher Heraclitus of Hephesus, who in the sixth century BCE, said that nothing in this world is constant except change and becoming. His theory stands in direct contrast to Parmenides, another Greek philosopher, but from the italic Magna Grecia, who believed that the ontic changes or "becoming" we perceive with our senses is deceptive, and that there is a pure perfect and eternal being behind nature, which is the ultimate truth. In philosophy, the word "becoming" concerns a specific ontological concept which should not be confused with process philosophy as a whole or with the related study of process theology.
Heraclitus (c. 535 - c. 475 BC) spoke extensively about becoming. Shortly afterwards Leucippus of Miletus similarly spoke of becoming as the movement of atoms.
The becoming ontology
According to tradition, Heraclitus wrote a treatise about nature named "Περὶ φύσεως" ("Perì phýseōs"), "About Nature," in which appears the famous aphorism πάντα ῥεῖ ("panta rhei [os potamòs]") translated literally as "the whole flows [as a river]," or figuratively as "everything flows, nothing stands still." The concept of "becoming" in philosophy is connected with two others: movement and evolution, as becoming assumes a "changing to" and a "moving toward." Becoming is the process or state of being coming about in time and space.
Nietzsche on becoming
German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche wrote that Heraclitus "will remain eternally right with his assertion that being is an empty fiction". Nietzsche developed the vision of a chaotic world in perpetual change and becoming. The state of becoming does not produce fixed entities, such as being, subject, object, substance, thing. These false concepts are the necessary mistakes which consciousness and language employ in order to interpret the chaos of the state of becoming. The mistake of Greek philosophers was to falsify the testimony of the senses and negate the evidence of the state of becoming. By postulating being as the underlying reality of the world, they constructed a comfortable and reassuring "after-world" where the horror of the process of becoming was forgotten, and the empty abstractions of reason appeared as eternal entities.
Clemens Alexandrinus (Stromata, v, 105). Similar: Plutarchus (De animae procreatione, 5 p, 1014 A) concerning Heraclitus:
This universal order, which is the same for all, has not been made by any god or man, but it always has been, is, and will be an ever-living fire, kindling itself by regular measures and going out by regular measures.
- Seibt, Johanna. "Process Philosophy". The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Fall 2013 Edition). Retrieved 30 April 2014.
- Diogenes Laertius,"Vitae Philosophorum", IX, 17
- "With the highest respect, I except the name of Heraclitus . When the rest of the philosophic folk rejected the testimony of the senses because they showed multiplicity and change, he rejected their testimony because they showed things as if they had permanence and unity. Heraclitus too did the senses an injustice. But Heraclitus will remain eternally right with his assertion that being is an empty fiction.]" http://publishing.cdlib.org/ucpressebooks/view?docId=ft5x0nb3sz&chunk.id=d0e10785&toc.depth=100&brand=eschol
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Books and Articles
R.Arthur, Minkowski Spacetime and the Dimensions of the Present in The Ontology of Spacetime, Vol. 1, Dieks, D., Amsterdam, Elsevier 2006.M.Born, Einstein's Theory of Relativity, New York City,Dover Publications 1962.
A. Einstein, On the Electrodynamics of Moving Bodies, New York, Dover Publications 1952, pp. 35–65.P.Fitzgerald, Four Kinds of Temporal Becoming,Philosophical Topics 13 1985, pp. 145–177.
A.Shimony, The Transient now (in Search for a Naturalistic World View), Cambridge,Cambridge University Press 1993, Vol. II.J.J.C.Smart, Philosophy and Scientific Realism, New York, The Humanities Press 1963.
G.Whitrow, The Natural Philosophy of Time, Oxford, Oxford University Press 1980.
- A. Mitov - S. Moch - A. Vogt, Next-to-next-to-leading order evolution, Phys. Lett. B 638 (2006) 61 [hep-ph/0604053] [SPIRES]