Existence and Nature of Matter

Since this simplifies and organizes our experience of the world, it is wiser to accept the value of truth of this belief.

If Russell questioned the existence of matter, Aristotle was concerned with its nature. According to him, all the things which come into existence must come from a substratum (which is the very nature of matter). Nevertheless, should this underlying matter of the universe come from another, already-existing underlying matter, this judgement results self-contradictory. On the other hand, nothing can be generated ex-nihilo, therefore, it can only be concluded that in order to exist, matter needs to be possible. However, possibility can not exist in itself, but must be conceived as residing in something else. And here one could bring Spinozas conceptions into discussion. In his opinion things can exist or in themselves or in something else. Since God is the only one who can exist through himself and he is infinite, it results that everything can exist only in and through God. Thus, the existence of matter is inextricably linked to the existence of a superior entity.

Democritus believed that matter is made out of atoms which are eternal. These atoms perform random combinations which lead to the creation of a variety of worlds in which there is no actual principle of design. Since matter is eternal and everything is nothing but matter, it is obvious that there is no need for a superior entity in this equation.

The materialists have sustained that the universe (matter) is eternal. However, scientists have proven that the universe has had a beginning and therefore, it will surely have and end as well. In addition, if time and space are interconnected, the beginning of space is necessarily the beginning of time. Hence, the materialistic conception according to which time has an independent existence must be wrong.

Furthermore, since matter is under the influence of time, it means that the universe is subject to constant change.

All in all, the existence of matter, as well as its origin and its nature represent important philosophical questions which have consequences upon other issues such as time, space, God, freedom and the self. Some philosophers argued that a superior entity is needed in order to give birth to matter while other have sustained the opposite. At the same time, the objective existence of matter has been questioned as well, yet some believed that our instinctual beliefs are enough to accept it in order to simplify our existence. The truth is that matter is in continuous change. If time and space are an unbreakable duo and if space might come to an end some day, it is safe to ask ourselves if time too will have the same fate.


Aristotle. Physics. Trans. Waterfield, Robin.Oxford University Press, 2008

Descartes, Rene. Discourse on method. Kindle Edition, 2006

Gould, James. The existence of absolute space. 16 November 2008 < https://kb.osu.edu/dspace/bitstream/1811/4849/1/V62N02_101.pdf

Russell, Bertrand. Problems of philosophy. Book Jungle, 2008

Spinoza, Baruch. Ethics. Part II. 14 November 2008 http://frank.mtsu.edu/~rbombard/RB/Spinoza/ethica-front.html

View that denies Gods existence and accepts the eternal existence of matter in the light of the big bang.” Big bang articles. 17 November 2008 http://www.bigbang.ws/articles.asp?id=69.


leave a Comment