Becoming (philosophy)

Becoming (philosophy)

The concept of becoming was born in eastern ancient Greece by the philosopher Heraclitus of Hephesus, who in the Sixth century BC, said that nothing in this world is constant except change or becoming. His theory stands in direct contrast to Parmenides, another Greek philosopher, but from the italic Magna Grecia, who believed that the ontic changes or "becoming" we perceive with our senses is deceptive, and that there is a pure perfect and eternal being behind nature, which is the ultimate truth. In philosophy, the word "becoming" concerns a specific ontological concept, which should not be confused with the process philosophy, which indicates a metaphysical doctrine of theology.



Heraclitus (c. 535 - c. 475 BC) spoke extensively about becoming. Shortly afterwards Leucippus of Miletus similarly spoke of becoming as the movement of atoms.

The becoming ontology

According to tradition[1], Heraclitus wrote a treatise about nature named "Περὶ φύσεως" ("Perì phýseōs"), "About Nature," in which appears the famous aphorism πάντα ῥεῖ ("panta rei [os potamòs]") translated literally as "the whole flows [as a river]," or figuratively as "everything flows, nothing stands still." The concept of "becoming" in philosophy is strictly connected with two others: movement and evolution, as becoming assumes a "changing to" and a "moving toward."


Clemens Alexandrinus (Stromata, v, 105). Similar: Plutarchus (De animae procreatione, 5 p, 1014 A) concerning Heraclitus:

This universal order, which is the same for all, has not been made by any god or man, but it always has been, is, and will be an ever-living fire, kindling itself by regular measures and going out by regular measures.

See also

  • Being
  • Physical ontology



  1. ^ Diogenes Laertius,"Vitae Philosophorum", IX, 17


Books and Articles
  • R.Arthur, Minkowski Spacetime and the Dimensions of the Present in The Ontology of Spacetime, Vol. 1, Dieks, D., Amsterdam, Elsevier 2006.
  • M.Born, Einstein's Theory of Relativity, New York City,Dover Publications 1962.
  • A.Einstein, On the Electrodynamics of Moving Bodies, New York, Dover Publications 1952, pp. 35–65.
  • P.Fitzgerald, Four Kinds of Temporal Becoming,Philosophical Topics 13 1985, pp. 145–177.
  • A.Shimony, The Transient now (in Search for a Naturalistic World View), Cambridge,Cambridge University Press 1993, Vol. II.
  • J.J.C.Smart, Philosophy and Scientific Realism, New York, The Humanities Press 1963.
  • G.Whitrow, The Natural Philosophy of Time, Oxford, Oxford University Press 1980.
  • A. Mitov - S. Moch - A. Vogt, Next-to-next-to-leading order evolution, Phys. Lett. B 638 (2006) 61 [hep-ph/0604053] [SPIRES]

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