Spatial perception sets motion in the context of space, to provide a sense of motionlessness – a sort of reference to show how motion differs to it. For example, we typically regard motion as a change of position, a reference to something fixed. But as a consequence, motion is seen as a movement in space when it is actually a movement of space – a space in motion.[i]

The spatially derived model of reality is based on how the dimensions differ to each other. Space is characterised by the difference between a plane and space. The planes set the context for the idea of space. The edges of a plane provide a context by showing the line where the plane ceases to be a plane. The difference between a line and a plane is what the concept of a plane is based on. To visualise a line, we give it ends. Each end of the line is a point and together they serve as the context for the line. They show the difference between a line and a point, and in this way they define the point at which a line ceases to be a line.

Successive dimensions build on lesser dimensions; for example, a line as a series of points. So, each dimension can be ‘placed’ within dimensions higher than itself, but not lower than itself. However, while this is clear for each of the dimensions leading up to the three dimensions of space, it is not so clear how time ‘contains’ its lesser dimensions. The problem is the spatially derived model of reality. We understand the passing of time to be in relation to the present moment, as if the ‘now’ has no duration. We supposedly experience a string of nows. However, it is only for sake of the concept that the passage of time differs to the present. The contrast does not reflect reality, but the setting of a context.

What the concept of time fails to take into account is that successive dimensions merge. They are not discrete. Each dimension carries within it the dimensions lesser than it. So, instead of focusing on how the dimensions differ to each other, we should look at how they differ in themselves. This reveals that the essence of a point is its location, the essence of a line is its alignment, the essence of a plane is its form, and the essence of a space is its density.

In considering how a motion differs in itself, one is tempted to describe it in linear terms: i.e. the path it follows. But this is not its essential quality, since a line has just one dimension, not four. Neither can we narrow it down to its location, form or density, though that which moves certainly has these characteristics too. But all these things being equal (imagine two identical movements side by side), there remains one characteristic which belongs solely to motion: its speed. This is how motion differs in itself – making speed the essence of motion.

The variable of speed is beyond the ordinary conception of motion, so we tend to regard it as inconsequential. But motion in the sense of speed is precisely how it ties in to reality. This can be observed in the shape of a wave. It is not simply that the form would not exist without motion, but that the variable of speed determines the variety of curves in a wave. A standing wave behind a rock in a stream is a good example of this principle: the water flows through the wave while the form expresses the various speeds at which the water is moving.

The whirlpool is a particularly good example because the dimensions are seen to be variables linked in a unified system. There is the alignment of its axis, the form of its surface, the matter it draws inward and, since a vortex rotates progressively faster toward its centre, the variable of speed. Placing a tiny pointer in a whirlpool can show the part played by motion. The pointer remains parallel to its original alignment, despite being carried around and around. This indicates that motion, rather than content, determines the form.[ii]

The concept of time fails to account for the diversity of change, since the division of time and space implies that change is restricted to the 4th dimension. However, assuming that change is the very essence of reality, rather than a mere aspect of it, it follows that the essence of each dimension is how that dimension changes. By setting each dimension in the context of change, the concept of time subsequently loses its significance as one of the dimensions, as such, separated from space. To subordinate the dimensions to the concept of time ignores the crucial point that each dimension finds its expression in change and that change is, moreover, what holds them together.

Having reinstated motion as the 4th dimension, it becomes apparent that time is also a generalisation of change. Just as we tend to regard motion in terms of its lesser characteristics, so too do we have an inferior perception of that other form of change called growth. Since growth depends on but is more than motion, it might be a higher dimension, with evolution as its essence. After all, information is not physical. In effect, life rides the material properties of chemicals, using instructions stored in DNA to direct cell growth. Incredibly, the coding for our own heart beat might have evolved from the pulsing motion of jelly fish.[iii]

Next chapter: Psychology.


[i] Bergson, H. (1912). An Introduction to Metaphysics. G.P. Putnam’s Son’s, p.48.

“Consider, […] movement in space. Along the whole of this movement we can imagine possible stoppages; these are what we call the positions of the moving body, or the points by which it passes. But with these positions, even with an infinite number of them, we shall never make movement. They are not parts of the movement, they are so many snapshots of it; they are, one might say, only supposed stopping-places. The moving body is never really in any of the points; the most we can say is that it passes through them.”

[ii] Schwenk, T. (1996). Sensitive Chaos: The creation of flowing forms in water and air (Second Edition). Rudolf Steiner Press, p.45.

“The vortex has yet another quality that suggests cosmic connections. If a very small floating object with a fixed pointer is allowed to circle in a vortex, it always points in the direction in which it was originally placed, that is it always remains parallel to itself! In other words, it is always directed to the same point at infinity. It can of course be started off pointing in any direction and it will then remain pointing in this direction while circling in the vortex. This shows how a vortex is oriented-as though by invisible threads-with respect to the entire firmament of fixed stars.”

[iii] Martinsona, A.S., van Rossuma, D.B., Diattaa, F.H., Laydenb, M.J., Rhodesa, S.A., Martindaleb, M.Q. and Jeglaa, T. (2014). Functional evolution of Erg potassium channel gating reveals an ancient origin for IKr, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS), 111/15, 5712–5717.