Marks and Remarks
Food for the Mind and Eye

No. 0078, June 26, 2015


Events and States

Copyright 2015 by S. W. Paul Wyszkowski

     "What are we talking about here?" Prickles wants to know. We're talking about what we're talking about, of course. "I think I'm going to have a nap," says she. OK, so maybe things will go easier without her comments anyway. I proceed.

     Events are the observations of changes in the state of the world. That certainly sounds straightforward enough and you might wonder why it is worth noting other than as a definition of an "event". But there is a deep problem embedded in this definition, namely the question of what exactly (or even inexactly) is a "state"? Note that there is no observation of a state, only of a change in state. But if a state is not observed, does it even exist? Changes in state evidently exist but what is it that changes? We're up against an imponderable.

     Maybe we need to change the definition of an "event" to get around this problem. Or maybe even the definition of a "definition". Suppose we try to define "event" and "state" simultaneously in terms of each other since neither has any reality without the other. Something like this: a "state" is a repeating (predictable) pattern of events, the pattern reflecting the [local] state. A change in this pattern constitutes a change of state, that is, an event. In this definition you need a pattern of events before you can define an event. For now that's the best I can do. Stay tuned. Prickles, you can come back now!

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