§5. Triads


492. Time is said to be the form of inward intuition. But this is an error of the sort just considered. It confuses what is evolved from the time-idea with what is involved in it. The task of the analyst in making out the features of the time-law must begin by formulating precisely what it is which that law explicitly pretends to make subject to time. It is, in the first place, only real events that »take place,« or have dates, in real time. Imaginary events, the course of a romance, are represented as having relations like those of time among one another, but they have no real places in time. A historical romance connects itself, more or less definitely, with real time; but that is because it »makes believe« they [the imaginary events] are real events. It is, then, only existentially real events which the law of time represents really to have places in real time. What, then, is a real event? It is an existential junction of incompossible facts. A pale yellowish iron solution mixed with a pale yellow solution of ferrocyanide of potassium suddenly turns deep blue. It is requisite that its being of a pale greenish or reddish yellow, and therefore not blue, should be a fact, and that the same thing's being blue should be a fact. Those two facts are contradictory. That is, that both should be true of precisely the same subject is absurd. But that they should be true of a subject existentially identical is not absurd, since they are mere accidents of an individual thing, which, as such, has no essence, its mode of being consisting in its forcing itself into a place in the world. Still, the two accidents could not be combined with one another. That would be absurd. For these accidents are monadic qualities, do have essences, and these essences are disparate. Their combination would have the form of a monadic triad but would not be a possible monadic triad; for it would violate a logical law. But though the two inherences cannot be combined, they can be joined. This junction is not a monadic triad, but it is of all forms of dyadic triad that one which most closely apes the monadic triad. Had we enumerated the divisions of dyadic triads, we should have been obliged to put this first of all. One kind of event, at least, then, is a dyadic triad of the very first kind, distinguished from the monadic triad in that it would, from the essence of the monadic qualities involved, have been contrary to a logical law, were it a monadic triad.

493. There are other sorts of events, somewhat more complex because the characters concerned are not simple monadic qualities. For example, A may make war upon B, that is, may pass from one sort of relation to B to another sort of relation to B. But they come to much the same thing. There is a repugnance between two monad elements. It is hardly for our present purposes worth while to undertake a long analysis in order to make the very slight correction of our definition of an event called for on this account. An event always involves a junction of contradictory inherences in the subjects existentially the same, whether there is a simple monadic quality inhering in a single subject, or whether they be inherences of contradictory monadic elements of dyads or polyads, in single sets of subjects. But there is a more important possible variation in the nature of events. In the kind of events so far considered, while it is not necessary that the subjects should be existentially of the nature of subjects — that is, that they should be substantial things — since it may be a mere wave, or an optical focus, or something else of like nature which is the subject of change, yet it is necessary that these subjects should be in some measure permanent, that is, should be capable of accidental determinations, and therefore should have dyadic existence. But the event may, on the other hand, consist in the coming into existence of something that did not exist, or the reverse. There is still a contradiction here; but instead of consisting in the material, or purely monadic, repugnance of two qualities, it is an incompatibility between two forms of triadic relation, as we shall better understand later. In general, however, we may say that for an event there is requisite: first, a contradiction; second, existential embodiments of these contradictory states; [third,] an immediate existential junction of these two contradictory existential embodiments or facts, so that the subjects are existentially identical; and fourth, in this existential junction a definite one of the two facts must be existentially first in the order of evolution and existentially second in the order of involution. We say the former is earlier, the latter later in time. That is, the past can in some measure work upon and influence (or flow into) the future, but the future cannot in the least work upon the past. On the other hand, the future can remember and know the past, but the past can only know the future so far as it can imagine the process by which the future is to be influenced.

494. Such, then, is the nature of an event. We can now go forward to an analysis of the substance of the law of time. It has three requirements, a monadic, a dyadic, and a triadic. The monadic clause in the law of time is that whatever fact or dyadic dyad exists, exists during a time, and in this time. The event is the existential junction of states (that is, of that which in existence corresponds to a statement about a given subject in representation) whose combination in one subject would violate the logical law of contradiction. The event, therefore, considered as a junction, is not a subject and does not inhere in a subject. What is it, then? Its mode of being is existential quasi-existence, or that approach to existence where contraries can be united in one subject. Time is that diversity of existence whereby that which is existentially a subject is enabled to receive contrary determinations in existence. Phillip is drunk and Phillip is sober would be absurd, did not time make the Phillip of this morning another Phillip than the Phillip of last night. The law is that nothing dyadically exists as a subject without the diversification which permits it to receive contrary accidents. The instantaneous Phillip who can be drunk and sober at once has a potential being which does not quite amount to existence.

495. The dyadic requirement of the law of time is that if a subject existentially receives contrary attributes, of the two contrary states an existentially determinate one is first in the existential order of evolution and second in the existential order of involution, while the other is second in the existential order of evolution and first in the existential order of involution; and of any two events whatever, a determinate one is related to the other in this same way (although the two events are not joined, as the two states are joined in the event), unless they are independent of one another, or contemporaneous. Suppose I hold in my hand a leaden ball. I open my hand, the ball falls to the ground and rests there. There are three states of the ball: first, the ball is in my hand and is not on the ground; second, the ball is not in my hand and is not on the ground; third, the ball is not in my hand and is on the ground. Of the two events, the ball's leaving my hand and the ball's striking the ground, the former consists in the junction of the ball's being in my hand as first in evolution and the ball's being out of my hand as second in evolution. Hence, of the two states, the ball is in my hand but not on the ground and the ball is neither in my hand nor on the ground, the former is necessarily the first in evolution, being made so by the event. And of the two states, the ball is neither in my hand nor on the ground and the ball is not in my hand but is on the ground, the event of striking makes the former to be first in evolution. Thus, the order of the states is controlled by the nature of the events. But the events are nothing in themselves. But if the fall were instantaneous, if for example my hand intercepted at first a visual ray and were then removed, so that there were but two states — first, the hand visible, the ground invisible; second, the hand invisible, the ground visible — then the two events are contemporaneous. If the two states, first »P and Q,« second »not P and not Q« exist, then only one of the two states »P but not Q« and »Q but not P« can exist, for the reason that it is the dyadic character of the events that decides. Thus, supposing state »P and Q« and state »neither P nor Q« to both exist, and supposing that in the event »P - not P,« P is first in evolution, then the state "P and Q« must antecede the state »neither P nor Q« in evolution, and consequently in the event »Q - not Q,« Q must antecede not Q in evolution. These two events, »P becomes not P« and »Q becomes not Q,« may then either antecede the other in evolution, and according as one or other antecedes, one or other of the two states, »P but not Q,« and »not P but Q,« becomes impossible. If the two events are contemporaneous, neither being existentially determined to be first in evolution, then these two states are both impossible.

496. The three possible temporal relations between two instantaneous events are naturally felt by us to mirror the three possible logical relations of two propositions which can be both true or both false, but are not logically equivalent (that is, have not by logical necessity the same value, as to being true or false). Namely of two such propositions, A and B, either, first, A can be false though B is true, but B must be true should A be true, or, second, either can be false though the other be true, so that they are independent of one another, or, third, A must be true should B be true, but B can be false though A is true. It is remarkable that we should instinctively connect the first case with the temporal succession of B after A, and the third case with the temporal succession of A after B, saying, in the former case, that B would follow from A and, in the latter, that A would follow from B. For superficial resemblances are the other way. We know what precedes in time from that which succeeds it much better than we know what is to come from that which goes before. This shows the instinct is not due to superficial resemblances. It is true that we know the conclusion later than we know the premisses; but we do not so much think of our knowledge as following as we do that one fact is logically sequent on the other. The instinct may, therefore, be presumed to be an obscure perception that temporal succession is a mirror of, or framework for, logical sequence. Thus instinct with its almost unerring certainty favors this doctrine.

497. That of two events not contemporaneous one should happen before the other involves a thisness and thus a dyadism. For as it is impossible for us to indicate or ascertain one to be first by any general quality but only by a comparison with some standard experience, so it is impossible for a distinction of first and second to be except by a dyadic force of existence. That a determinate one shall be first and the other second requires reference to some kind of standard, since right and left are, as far as any monadic quality goes, just alike. There must be a standard first and second, and for any other pair there must be some way of bringing them into experiential connection one way and not the other way with this standard. This experiential reference to a standard in knowledge corresponds to an existential dyadic connection in fact. Otherwise there would be no truth in the knowledge.


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