Events and the Origin of the World

  • Wolff-Michael Roth
Part of the Cultural Psychology of Education book series (CPED, volume 9)


One of the key observations in Chap.  3 is that objects, including sound-words, are social through and through. This is apparent from the fact that an object is itself a regularity of an event that intersects with those families of events that are associated with and make a living person (i.e. person-as-event). In other words, “an object is an ingredient in the character of an event” (Whitehead 1920, 143, emphasis added), where the character itself is an abstraction. We could also say that the object is social because it is a character of the unity/identity that we denote by the term {person | environment}. If an object were to exist for one person only, then this would mean that it could not be expressed in some way through an actional event and others would thus never be able to ascertain its existence. But even our most intimate, personal, perhaps even secretive thoughts are expressed in verbal and other forms to be understood by others. But why are all objects social? In Chaps.  2 and  3 it is shown that objects-as-things are abstractions from and shorthand forms for percipient events after these have come to a conclusion. How and when do these abstractions emerge – on ontogenetic and phylogenetic scales? We know, for example, that in the animal world, the organism behaves as if the object did not continue to exist after the percipient event has ended: dogs stop barking when passersby are out of sight (and no smell is apparent). Most tool-using chimpanzees fashion twigs and other things on the spot but do not carry them around, or pick them up to be used in some other site (though some chimpanzees reportedly do, carrying stones over large distances for the purpose of cracking nuts). Things and the world are as they appear in the present but do not exist beyond the current percipient event.


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Wolff-Michael Roth
    • 1
  1. 1.University of VictoriaVictoriaCanada

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