space and time

Imagine that you have just now started to look at the world.


One of the first things that you notice is space. There is you and an outside world that you can see, and you can see more than one thing. What separates you and what you can see, and what separates the different things that you see, is space in its most immediate definition.

Then you also quickly notice that some things move and others do not. This is time, again in its most immediate definition, as motion or being at rest.


Things can rest or move outside and inside the mind. Thus there would a priori be 4 different kinds of things: What moves outside, what rests outside, what moves inside, and what rests inside. Let me call them elements and give them the following names: emo, ero, emi and eri.

emo moves outside
ero rests outside
emi moves inside
eri rests inside

Using a camera, emo and ero might be defined as the difference between two images taken shortly after each other. Differing pixels would be emo, same pixels ero. For example, a ball that rolls down a slope would itself not be emo as a physical object, but emo would be the area the ball spawns between the two images (excluding the middle if the ball is uniformly colored).



Some literature quotes, ideas and different points of view. Always also see 'artemis' for eventually articles that may expose some topics in a more contemporarily amenable way.
  • Immanuel Kant. The Critique of Pure Reason. 1787.

    In the early chapters, Kant discloses that some observable things cannot be isolated from the self, but instead appear to be themselves a priori necessary for thinking and observation. These a priori concepts include space and time in their immediate sense - the structure in which things appear in the mind and seem to exist outside of it.
  • "By means of the external sense (a property of the mind), we represent to ourselves objects as without us, and these all in space. Herein alone are their shape, dimensions, and relations to each other determined or determinable. [...] Space is not a conception which has been derived from outward experiences. For, in order that certain sensations may relate to something without me (that is, to something which occupies a different part of space from that in which I am); in like manner, in order that I may represent them not merely as without, of, and near to each other, but also in separate places, the representation of space must already exist as a foundation. [...] We never can imagine or make a representation to ourselves of the non-existence of space, though we may easily enough think that no objects are found in it." (translated by J. Meiklejohn)
  • "Time is not an empirical conception. For neither coexistence nor succession would be perceived by us, if the representation of time did not exist as a foundation a priori. [...] With regard to phenomena in general, we cannot think away time from them, and represent them to ourselves as out of and unconnected with time, but we can quite well represent to ourselves time void of phenomena."
  • Arthur Schopenhauer. The World As Will And Idea. 1819.

    "[...] that the world which surrounds him is there only as idea, i.e., only in relation to something else, the consciousness, which is himself. If any truth can be asserted a priori, it is this: for it is the expression of the most general form of all possible and thinkable experience: a form which is more general than time, or space, or causality, for they all presuppose it; and each of these, which we have seen to be just so many modes of the principle of sufficient reason, is valid only for a particular class of ideas; whereas the antithesis of object and subject is the common form of all these classes, is that form under which alone any idea of whatever kind it may be, abstract or intuitive, pure or empirical, is possible and thinkable." (translated by R. Haldane and J. Kemp)

    The word "Vorstellung" (for "idea") in the original means literally something "put in front of or before you".
  • If I can imagine something, is it then really inside of me? Isn't there already a separation (space) between me and what I imagine? Such an extreme definition of self or inside would mean that the self cannot have any (consciously accessible) attributes, no memory etc., because any such attribute of the self would be something that can be considered by the self and would thus, by definition, not be part of the self...
  • This definition of self reminds of the Tao ("way") in Taoism. Lao Tzu starts the Tao Te Ching with "The Tao that can be Tao'ed (trodden/spoken), is not the real (unchanging) Tao".
  • The definition of emo as the difference between two images is from September 2018. Before that I would often consider, say, a ball itself (or at least its visible surface) as ero, as long as it would rest, and as emo, when it would be rolling. That overall view still shows a bit in the first drawing above.

    The concept of a "ball" is a priori much more complex than comparing two images, which becomes evident once you try to program computers to recognize (3-dimensional) items on 2-dimensional images. How a concept like a "ball" comes to be in the mind appears to require a lot of interaction with the environment (typically quite early as a child), and in the end it is philosophically not so clear whether a "ball" is rather a natural thing, something that objectively exists, or rather a useful cultural abstraction of reality, copied from others. See also e.g. Kant or Plato's Allegory of the Cave.

    The new definition of emo↔ero is more fundamental, even though it reminds of the shadows in Plato's Cave. Thus it might a priori be better suited for such a fundamental concept as elements are. But, without having explored where different definitions lead, settling on just one may be a bit early.
  • How would rest/move be defined for other senses than vision?

    How would eri and emi be measured inside? Would the only "objective" way be to measure brain activity outside? Would that be fundamental enough in this context?

    Could the self (observer) be measured?
  • Would a female observer also consider what is seen as not being part of herself or would she rather tend to identify with what she sees? (Is the own body part of the self? And lovers, family, friends, house, garden, etc.?) In other words, is the distinction between in and out hard or soft (gradual)?
  • What about sleep, dreaming, trance, drunkenness? Why only have a fully conscious observer?
© 2002-now Alain Stalder