The nature of Space

In metaphysics, we defined a substance as an element that only needs itself to exist. And there are three qualities that makes an element a substance: self-containment, inalterability and unicity. We then proposed that in the universe there is only one such element: Space.  Space is the sole substance in the universe, therefore it is also its constitutive matter.

One of the difficulties about monism is how can a unitary substance explain all the diversity and change in the universe. The idea of a unitary substance might suggests an entity that is homogeneous and static. The universe on the other hand, is inhomogeneous and dynamic. How can a unitary substance sustain such a universe? The answer is that Space is not an ideal static substance but a physical substance with a physical nature.

The first quality that sets apart a physical substance from and ideal substance is that it has extension. Space is physical element with extension.

But Space doesn’t extend arbitrarily. It does so on its dimensions. So Space has dimensions; and it doesn’t have one, but many dimension (at least three. How many? we still don’t know). This multiplicity of dimensions gives Space yet another property: a geometric nature. That is, Space extends on the geometries formed by its dimensions. The geometric nature of Space is manifested in several ways in the physical world, like on the geometry of space-time, on the properties of particles (charge, spin, colours, flavours, etc.), on the properties of atoms (e.g.their place in a periodic table) and on the geometric structures of crystals, proteins, etc.

The geometric nature of Space in turn, has a particular property: it is asymmetric. We know of the asymmetric nature of Space for two reasons. First, because of the the inhomogeneity of the world around us, where there are not two things and nor two places -neither contiguous nor distant- that are exactly the same. And second, because asymmetries in Space have an inverse relation with extension and energy. Physical objects have energy and a finite extension because they are constituted by asymmetric Space. If Space would be totally symmetric, it would be infinitely extent and empty.

The combination of these qualities gives Space another property: dynamism. The dynamic nature of Space is manifested on the dynamic nature of the universe. Everything is in permanent motion and transformation: from vacuum to matter, from particles to organisms, everything in the universe is in permanent change. The universe then is dynamic, because it is constituted by a unitary space with a dynamic nature.

But how can a unitary and inalterable substance be dynamic? As we mentioned before, one of the main difficulties about monism is to explain how all the dynamics and change in the universe comes from a unitary substance. This happens because Space combines two things: the qualities of a substance (unicity and self-containment) and a physical nature. The combination of these qualities makes it dynamic. We can summarise this mutual relation in the following way:
. Space is unitary, therefore it is self-contained (i.e. it has no gaps, no discontinuities and no open ends).
. For space to remain self-contained, it has to close upon itself (i.e. its dimension have to close upon themselves).
. Space has also a geometric nature. So when space closes upon itself, it does so on its geometric structure.
. But because the geometries of space are asymmetric, when space closes upon itself it generates change.
The dynamic nature of space then, is a property that results from the combination of its unicity, with its geometric and asymmetric nature. If space would be symmetric and homogeneous the universe would be static. But because it is asymmetric and inhomogeneous we have a dynamic universe. Space itself doesn’t change. Space remains an invariable substance. But it is the change within its physical structure that makes it dynamic.

In summary, Space is a substance for being unitary, self-contained and inalterable. And it is also a physical substance for having a geometric, asymmetric and dynamic nature. The combination of these qualities explains how a monist universe can be inhomogeneous and dynamic.


%d bloggers like this: