Ontology of the Universe


Marcel-Marie LeBel





This essay will show a approach for exposing the metaphysical substance and cause of the universe using a strict ontological analysis and reduction on our scientific knowledge in order to separate in it the elements that are created by the observer from those proper to the universe. In doing so, a number of correlations will be made with known concepts of physics in order to complete the ontology of the universe.





The title of this essay is Ontology of the universe and not “The” or “An” ontology of the universe. This is because, unlike the empirical system where there are as many descriptions as there are different experiences and points of view, ontology /must/ by definition, come up with a single description for the underlying source of many experiences. The ontological system allows only one logically backed answer; there is only one true substance and process behind the various description of an experience.


It is customary to choose a method of investigation and then to elaborate a question whose formulation and expected answer lies within the allowed subject matter for that method. This way of proceeding implies that the subject matter, related questions and scope of the answers is already limited and set the very moment the method is chosen.


What we will do here is the reverse. We will bring up the question of interest first, and then, we will choose the method that is required to answer it.



  The Question


The present question is: what is the universe made of, and what makes it work by itself. This twofold question is essentially about what substance makes up the universe and about what could be the internal cause that motivates its evolution. Since most of the universe is the vacuum or space-time or space, we will consider at first, the ontology of the vacuum.


This question appears to be simple, but it actually is fairly complex. First, can we even ask these questions about the universe? The answer is yes. We can ask these questions based on the fact that the universe existed and was evolving long before we ever showed up. This means that the universe is not just an experience that we have, but it has substance and a built-in cause. It can exist by itself and happen by itself. To study and look for the true nature of something is called Ontology. Ontology is precisely about describing something as it is, by itself, outside the scope of our experience. Of course, it is almost impossible to produce an ontological description without using some words or symbols that relate to some experience. But a few concepts of logic and mathematics can be salvaged as being themselves some form of ontological descriptions that pervades and hold true in all views, sciences etc. without contest.



  The Ontological Analysis


The ontological process cannot start from nothing. We have to apply this process to some body of knowledge. The surest knowledge or body of information we have is the scientific knowledge we have acquired over at least 300 years. The first problem we encounter with science is that it is empirical and essentially expressed in empirical terms as scientific knowledge is gained from experience. The second problem is that there are no clear and accepted distinctions between the various logical groups of information based on their origin, and no spoken rules dictating their interrelations. Too often we mix information from two different groups and not surprisingly we end up with a paradoxical statement or context. Therefore, we will now address the partition of the three main bodies of information of concern here.


It is taken here that our perceptual reality, all of it, is created by how we experience the real ontological universe. Consequently, it is up to us to identify in these experiences what is inherent to the universe and what is created by us, our vision, our thinking etc.


We may recognize here three different sets of information, each internally consistent in its logic, based on the origin and processes that produced that information. The first one (A) is the real (ontological) universe that is what is by itself and happens by itself. There is our reality (B), which is defined as the information created by the direct experience of the real universe trough our senses, the processing of their signals by our brain and our consciousness. The third realm is about our scientific knowledge(C), its models and analysis of (B) that involves the processes of the universe described in terms common to our reality.


Three realms are described above. The first one is the real universe (A) described as what things are and do by themselve. The second one is our reality (B), described as our straight daily experience of the first realm (A). The third realm (C) is our scientific analysis of our reality or of the second realm (B). It would appear that each realm comprises elements of information gained or produced in the same way and that they are, for that reason, internally logical. For (A), its generating process is taken as a Big Bang process. This may sound a bit hard to grasp so I will go on with an example. In the evening, I can go out in the evening and see at the same moment, the sun setting, the moon and a few stars. This is our reality (B). On the other hand, our scientific analysis (C) of this experience reveals that the stars are a few millions light-years away and consequently millions of years away. The sun is about eight minutes away from us and the moon is half a second away. Since one cannot logically consider these subjects to be both “at the same moment” and “away in time”, an exclusive choice has to be made that defines these two separate domains (B) and (C). Logic dictates that both views are not logically compatible. ( Do not let these large distances fool you! There is no set lower limit to this fact. Contrary to the perceptions of our reality everything is away in time from you and from everything else. Because no communication is instantaneous, there is always some time, no matter how little, between any two points.) This example shows that our analysis of our reality produces information that is not logically compatible with the straight perception of our reality. Similarly, we can’t use our scientific models to describe the real universe because these models are descriptions in terms of experiences. These terms have no meaning or existence in the real universe because they would imply our required presence to ‘live” these experiences. That would be contrary to a proper ontology where things are understood as existing and happening without any reference to how we experience them.


Still, much understanding can be extracted from all three realms as long as we respect their logical limits. We can establish mathematical correlations between (B) and (C) as science is about, as long as we don’t attribute any logical status to these correlations. Doing so would open the door to paradoxes of the type shown above with the stars and sun….


It is now clear that the ontological process would have to work on the scientific analysis


(C) of our reality (B) in order to remove from it elements purely created by our experience. Since we are to remove elements of experiences from the scientific information, the ontological analysis will be a subtractive and reductive process leading to a simplification. Also, most of what can learned from science is not written down yet. It will have to be logically inferred or deduced from this knowledge. This ontological analysis will form a new body (D) or set of information with its own internal logic provided that we keep a consistent approach. We could say that realm (D) is the least altered version of (A), owing the slight and necessary discrepancy to the usage of words of our own to describe this realm.



  The analysis I: Removal of Space


The ontological analysis starts by removing dimensions created by our experience. In the example above we showed that there is always time between any two points. If any of these points are on the standard meter, the principle still holds. This means that a /moment in time/, defined as a group of points all at the same moment or, without any time between them, is just a small single point. The whole meter cannot fit inside a single moment. The consequence of this is clear and unavoidable. The ontological analysis of our own scientific analysis of our reality reveals that space does not exist in the real universe. It is strange that both time and space are calmly dealt with in our scientific models, while the very meaning of /space-time/ and of a speed limit in the universe readily forbid the existence of space in the real universe. From this we can conclude that space is just a tool we create in order to navigate and position ourselves in our reality. It makes sense that space plays no role in the universe since atoms, for example, only react to what touches them, as they have no ideas of how far things are. In science, the use of “space” allows us to come up with background independent equations, describing events just as if, like us, atoms new how far things were from them.



  Perceived Space


Since I just pulled the space carpet right from under your feet, I owe you some explanations as to how we create the “carpet” in the first place. In the example above about the stars, sun and moon; what did these three subjects appear to have in common? They were seen at the same moment or their light signals coincided at the point of observation. Our point of view is just that, a coincidence. The observer is at the center of a sphere of coincidence. Any light information happening to coincide at our point of observation is deemed as at “the same moment”, irrespective of when these light rays started their journeys. Similarly, we perceive the standard meter as one full object at one moment because we can’t perceive that the object is away in time from us and that all the points of the meter are away in time from each other. Basically, we create space by the integration of perceived coincidences. By integration I mean that we are slow. If we were extremely rapid and discriminate we would perceive each incoming photon separately. But in doing so we could not accumulate them in a sufficient number to form a picture. Luckily, we are slow and like a photographic emulsion, we accumulate or integrate enough to form a /coincidence space/. Why three dimensions? As said above, we are at the center of a sphere of coincidence, and a sphere just happens to divide well according to three axis. This is literally a /point of view /which comes from the fact that we are not spreaded all over the place but ponctual and in one place. So, we are forced by our very nature into one point of view. There are no dimensions in the real universe, not this kind at least. At this point it is hard not to continue with the concept of /perceived time/.



  Perceived Time


If we compare two successive coincidence spaces and denote a non-coincidence we say something changed. These changes, motion etc are non-coincidences that are our clues about the passage of time. The coincidence spaces can be visual, auditory or any other senses. Any changes or non-coincidences between two successive spaces are our clues about the passage of time. This is why, in the process of perception, we can say that a coincidence space must be formed /before/ a non-coincidence can be perceived between two coincidence spaces.



  Ontological Time: A substance


Let’s resume our ontological analysis. We just knocked off “space” from the real universe. This subtraction leaves us with “time”. This ontological time is obviously very different from the perceived non-coincidence of the hands on a clock between two coincidence spaces. We have from the theory of relativity quite a few clues about the properties of time that are indications of a true ontological substance. First of all, we do not perceive the passage time /per se/ but rather its effect on the rate of evolution of various processes. Since we cannot experience it directly but by virtue of its effects on processes, it does already have an essential quality of a substance; this (ontological) time is not a direct experience. Secondly, it is known from the Theory of Relativity that the rate of passage of time is slower in a gravitational field and that consequently, its rate varies vertically above ground. Something that has at least one property, a rate of passage or evolution which can assume different values in different places does present itself like a substance. In the example of clocks in the gravitational field, we must understand that the same clock can be moved up or down and it will consequently go faster or slower compared to a second clock. The inference to be made here is that the clock only gives an indication of the rate of passage of time where it is located and that there is a true (dynamical substance) underlying the measurement of time. The passage of time appears as continuously extended, variable and of a dynamic nature.



  A Cause


So, we have substance, and as the passage of time, it is a dynamic substance. What about a cause? For us to find an ontological cause, we have to apply the question to a dynamic process or experience. For this, it would be wise to choose a spontaneous process because this removes any causality from our part in it. The gravitational fall of an object remains the best laboratory for the study of a spontaneous process.


(The word “cause” is not well defined. It is a recursive concept that can go back to the creation of the universe. But the /cause/ of a specific event is more about the rules dictating the outcome given a specific context. The most likely contender for these rules is LOGIC. This is because, no matter how we view these underlying processes, these processes have to obey or not contradict simple rules of logic. Logic regroups unavoidable facts about this universe that can’t be transgressed either in (B), (C) or any other epistemological domain. The rules of the universe are, in some way, hidden under de veil of our own pragmatism. A substance cannot /be/ and /not be/ in a certain state at the same time. This simple rule of non-contradiction is only one of a few basic rules of logic the real universe (A) has to go by. On that account, we did not invent basic logic! Because logic transcends all domains, we just took it from the experience and observation in (B) as a set of consistent behaviors and expectations from the universe. Since (A) is the ontological origin of subsequent domains, it is primitive and unique. What the substance of (A) is, and what /rule/cause/ that makes it evolve is not a transform or point of view anymore. In (A), the irreducible description /is/ the actual mechanism. The key to this conclusion is that a spontaneous event is only possible by way of it own internal substance and causal context.)


Here are two ways to consider the gravitational fall of an object. The first one is to experience it in our reality (B). An object released above ground will, by itself, fall to the ground. The second way to consider the same event is by using what scientific information (C) we have about the context and background of this event. We know that the rate of passage of time varies in a gravitational field. This is evidenced by its effect on various events like clocks as demonstrated in many experiments about General Relativity. The gravitational field varies and weakens as we move away from earth. Consequently, the rate of passage of time increases as we move away from earth. ( A clock is but a spontaneous event, the rate of which is dependant on the rate of passage of time where the clock is located. We know we can’t rush time and accordingly, all time measuring devices are based on a spontaneous event. Examples of this are the sand falling in the hourglass, the spontaneous electronic transition in an excited atom, the mechanical relaxation of a quartz crystal etc….)


The ontological analysis of these two views (B) and (C) about gravitational fall will create a new logical set of information. By combining the ontological concepts of the two previous views we may create a third interpretation (D). The event can now be described in the following way. The object appears to move spontaneously from where the rate of passage of time is faster, and the motion is toward where the rate of passage of time is slower. /In this way, we have just made the process context dependant/. This spontaneous fall is not a certainty since I can stop it or slow it, as can any other influence. We may say that this process is a probability. This spontaneous motion appears as a probability of something that is /higher/ towards the ground. But a probability of what?



  Quantum Mechanics and Probability


In order to answer this question, we will first introduce the probability aspect found in Quantum Mechanics (QM). Many interesting concepts come from QM. The one that is of interest here is that a single particle is successfully described as a cloud of probability of position. This is partly due to the fact that particles appear to be animated with an incessant motion around a central position. This is consistent with known models in gas kinematics. For this reason, we will accept that this is an accurate representation of the actual particle, as it is by itself. This cloud of probability of position is usually spherical in shape because the particle spends on average an equal amount of time anywhere around that central point. Thus, the shape, position and motion of this cloud depend on the uniformity or non-uniformity of the rate of passage of time in that location. Since everything is made these particles, we will consider as valid the extension of this principle to whole objects made of them. From here, we need one more concept to tie up things together and this is “Existence as a function of time of residence.”


*/Existence: Time Telling Where Things Should Be./*


The concept of existence as a function of time is explained as follow. If an object is in a place P for 5 minutes and then moved to place Q where it stays for 10 minutes, we then say that the object existed twice as much in Q as in P. There appear to be no visible difference in the object. This is because the difference is in how the universe was changed by the stay in P and in Q. The gravitational message or signature of the object has travel twice as far when it was in place Q then when it was in place P. This has in some way a similarity with Mach’s principle. But here, because we assume that time passes everywhere, we recognize that how long an event takes to happen or how long something stays in one place does matter to the universe. How long an object stays in one place does change the way the universe sees this object. This principle is similar to the center of mass of bodies in orbit like the Earth and the Moon. Similar to a Keplerian orbit around the Sun where the time of residence determines the position of the long focus. The /center of existence/ is, for example, that point where a single jiggling particle may never find itself and yet, may appear to be as seen by the whole universe. Since existence is a function of the time spent in one place, a particle subjected to a differential in the rate passage of time will also experience a differential in its existence. Because its existence will be more probable in a specific direction, the object will exist more or /move/ in that direction. But in which direction shall it move? Shall it move towards a faster passage of time or towards a slower one?



  The conjunction of GR and QM: substantial logic


To answer the above question, let’s consider what happens in Earth’s gravitational field. We know that in a gravitational field the rate of passage of time increases as we move away from Earth. So to speak, time runs faster at our head than at our feet. If I let an object fall, it will consequently be understood as moving spontaneously from a place where time runs faster towards a place where time runs relatively slower. We have our answer. An object subjected to a differential in the rate of passage of time shall move in the differential in the direction of slower passage of time. In other words, the object tends to exist more where it stays longer, which is similar to the above example with places P and Q. This is a simple logical consequence and there are no other reasons for the gravitational fall. The logical answer to how gravitation works is also the internal logical cause, or why, it happens spontaneously.



  Why it Makes Sense


Our reality is a function of how we relate to the universe. Physics studies this relation in order to find out clues about the real universe. But this knowledge is based on a relation that collapses if we remove one end of the relation or, the observer. Logically, in order for us to even consider that the universe existed long before we ever showed up, we have to admit substance and permanence to some of our scientific concepts. In other words, in order to understand how the universe works by itself instead of -appears to work-, we have to admit its independent existence in some form, as well as an independent built-in causality for its spontaneity. - One interesting consequence of using the concept of existence is that it is truly universal. A differential in the probability of existence will affect anything that exists. As we know, everything is equally affected by gravitation. Another consequence is that pretty much everything that exists has some mass/matter and therefore creates its own surrounding little time rate gradient, in the same way that the Earth does. In a way, everything attracts everything else to some degree. These two consequences make this explanation as universal as gravitation is known to be. Logic transcends the levels and views from QM to GR and this view applies equally to existing subatomic particles, people, planets and galaxies.





Early in this essay, I said that we would look for the ontology of the universe in its most abundant constituent; the vacuum or space. We have presented the notion of a substance that is dynamic and that evolves in a spontaneous way. In the above description, the process of gravitational fall was described as a higher probability of existence affecting in one direction the probability of position of sub-atomic particles. In turn, whole objects were deemed as well representing the behavior of these sub-atomic particles that constitute them. In the end, the exercise may have been superfluous since a probability of existence will affect anything that exists, whether taken at the sub-atomic level or as a whole. This approach presents us with an additional insight. Because the ontological passage of time is a substance, it does also exist. Therefore, the passage of time should also be subjected to the (local) passage of time. And it does! How else would the presence of earth affect the moon at a distance (and vice-versa)? The passage of time in one place is a spontaneous event, like a clock, subjected to neighboring rates of passage of time. The behavior of a fluid under pressure is a good way to visualize this. But matter does appear to us as existing because we can interact with it. Could it be made of the passage of time as well? Yet, nowhere in this essay have we described matter as being made of the same substance as the vacuum.



  Matter and Passage of Time: the Same Nature


There are a few different ways in which one may come to the conclusion that matter is in fact made of some /variation/ of the passage of time. In a *first method*, for example, if the presence of matter slows down the passage of time as shown in General Relativity, it may be because it replaces or substitute itself locally to the passage of time. And it can do so logically and by itself only if/if matter is of the same nature as the passage of time, but a different species or dynamic variation. The rule of non-contradiction would forbid the passage of time in one place to be both “passage of time” and “variation” of the passage of time. This simple rule of logic in fact prevents the universe to be same whether matter is present or not. This approach is apparently holistic and definitely background dependant.


The first way or method involved the dynamic substance and variations of it and the rule of non-contradiction. This *second method* is based on the intrinsic causality of a spontaneous event or phenomenon. In this method we make use of our scientific models, themselves, a pre-ontological appreciation of the universe. In the gravitational process, the motion of the object is explained as the logical resolution of an existential differential created by a differential in rate of the passage of time. The differential in the rate of the passage of time around a mass is what we experience as gravitation. In other words, the differential in the rate of passage of time is the cause for this spontaneity. We will therefore transpose this structure to another entity that travels in a spontaneous way; the photon. In this way, we represent the photon as a single cycle sine wave composed of a front depression in the rate of passage of time and a back hump of an increase in the rate of passage of time. It is a traveling wave of variation in the rate of passage of time. This model present many interesting features. First, its motion is spontaneous and it travels by itself because its time rate structure, as shown in the gravitational field, is that of motion itself. Secondly, it is also directional because of the alignment or sequence of the two time rate variations of which it is made. Thirdly, this presents us with a photon that travels at the “speed of time”. This suggests that the speed of light is also the speed of expansion or evolution of the passage of time! This would effectively account for the fact that it is the fastest speed possible.


    * It is interesting to take this logical/ontological model and

      superimpose it onto the classical representation of an

      electro-magnetic wave. If we have two models of the same entity,

      and one model is ontological, we may the establish correspondences

      between the perceptual and the ontological aspect of this entity.

      For example, this super-imposition appears to equate “variation in

      the rate of passage of time” with the magnetic vector. It also

      equates the electric vector with a change in direction in this

      varying rate of the passage of time; from increasing to decreasing

      and vice-versa. This interpretation is consistent with the known

      laws of electrical and magnetic induction which are based on their

      variations in time.*


We need one more correlation in order to complete our second method. This correlation uses the process of pair creation. In this process, a gamma photon turns into an electron and positron. This is creation in the sense that energy is converted directly into matter. The ontological interpretation of this process is that matter is made of the same nature as the photon. An ontological substance cannot change its nature. In other words, (this) ontology does not recognize any process capable of changing the nature of a substance. That would be against the “nature” of a substance. So, the path of this second method is as follow. The photon is very much functional as a time rate variation. Matter is of the same nature as the photon. Therefore, matter is also made of some species or variation of the rate of passage of time. A quick *Third method *is to say that the whole universe coming from a single extremely small point as in the Big Bang would have to be in all its parts of the same nature since no further post Big Bang processes would be capable of changing the nature of anything. Another quick *fourth method* says that if the universe follows logic it would have no logical way of how to deal with more than one substance/nature. No basic operational logic exists for the interaction of substances of different nature. ( This the old apples & oranges principle)





Up to now, this essay has linked in a way or another many concepts of physics to this ontology of the universe based on the passage of time and its variations. These concepts are; gravitation, the photon, electric and magnetic field, the speed of light, the nature of the vacuum and matter. This last association of matter to this group allows a total integration of these concepts at an ontological level in a scheme based on one dynamic substance and its variation, guided in its spontaneous evolution by simple but compulsory rules of logic.


Many refinements are still required within the methods presented as well as more research in these few rules of logic that drive this universe. A more complete characterization of the passage of time can be extracted from both Quantum Mechanics and General Relativity. I believe this ontology has an interesting future as the meeting place of science, logic and philosophy.