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Actuality from Potentiality
|by R. D. Ashby|
We are all aware that life had an origin, but given the relatively non-mysterious circumstances of the emergence of non-living matter, though a lot is taken for granted in the latter’s emergence from the so-called Big Bang, which the discovery of the Higgs boson purports to resolve, the emergence of life poses a separate riddle to science. It should not, since there is unbroken continuity from non-living matter to living forms; yet, the formation of complex molecules of amino acids and the structuring of the cell, then the ‘automatic’ process of cell division in growth that characterises life indicates something latent within the context of non-living matter that, conversely, reflects on the latter’s ‘deadness’ as a false distinction: what brought non-living matter, the forces of attraction binding and attracting atoms and molecules, into contextual form is and must be the same as what brought amino-acids and eventually life forms into contextual existence.
Anything that exists does so in a context that defines its form, which the form manifests from the potentiality of context, so that the context appears to pre-exist it. Before the thing comes into formal existence one could say the context it emerges from held it in potentiality. For example, before the sun came into formal existence out of the gravitational tornado of gases in space, you could say that it was potentially present in that context, and was manifested in existence as the outcome of contextually determined events. We are familiar with this idea of contextual potentiality being brought into manifestation on a daily, if not moment to moment basis. For example, the 2012 London Olympic Games is potentially already acknowledged to exist for there to be preparation for it, which the actual event will unfold in contextual manifestation; on a mundane level, the cup of tea I will prepare in a hour’s time has only to be manifested from its contextual potentiality - or not.
Living form is potential to the same context that initiated the manifestation from contextual potentiality of non-living forms. It is clear both living and non-living forms have their origins in the potentiality of context. Exploring the idea of context, potentiality and manifestation, in what we call the universe of existing forms, primarily, all existence is contextually potential. The implication is that context contains every event manifested in potentiality of existence: by every event, include all events to the end of time (assuming an end, which we shall see is the necessary condition for a beginning) – it must do, since all events, non-living and living forms, are contextually realised out of potentiality of context. We cannot say context pre-exists what comes to exist within it, because things and events are already in contextual potentiality of existence.
In our observation of the coming into existence of forms from contextual potentiality, appearing on earth where they had not previously existed, we find that continuity is everything, but where transference occurs from potentiality of event in the future to actuality in the present and back to a form of realised potentiality in the past: and the net effect is one of actuality.
For example, everything viewed in the present at 4:00 pm has emerged from potentiality, but has changed slightly, strictly speaking, has ceased to exist in the present at 4:01 pm, transferred to what does exist at the latter time; while events at 4:00 pm continue to exist in what we term the past. What is the past? It is nothing but a concept in the present, a return to a state of potentiality, but one realised. The future is a concept in the present, but contains the potentiality of existence, which becomes actual in the present, then is seamlessly preserved in the concept of the past. Potentiality is actualised, but in such a way, once realised it resumes potentiality of form as a concept in the past, so that in the mind of the observer future, present and past constitute one continuous actuality.
The emergence of early atoms and molecules, then of complex amino acids, of cells and organisms is immediately a contextual effect such as is continuous with the production of the stars as contextually realised from potentiality; life-forms ‘evolving’ in context, as manifesting the latter’s potentiality. In fact, the process of emergence of any existing form, non-living or living, can be charted as on any tree of evolution, going right back to the origin of existence where all existence was held in contextual potentiality. Herein is the paradox of origin, because in order to start there has to be the form of what has to be completed within the start.
The end of time is inherent in its commencement out of potentiality of existence. The question remains how this process of actuality, the realisation of potentiality in which all forms and events are realised and retained in the one actuality, is initiated, and preserved in motion till completion.
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