C-102. “Big questions”

What are we to make of “big questions” like “What was, is and must be?”, like “How come?” and “What for?”, like “What might be?” and “What ought to be?” and like “Why?” and “How?” Are these anything more than competing territorial headings, where within each we find much that has been said, between which we see much that has been contested … but among which it is hard to discern what all is being talked about?

CEM-history (App. XI, App. XII, App. XVI) can help us out here. Consider the two arrays below, shown in rough developmental parallel:

CEM phase

Big Question


What was, is and must be?


How come?



What for? How?

Cognition, communication

What might be?


What ought to be?


Given contingent emergent materiality (CEM), each CEM phase and Big Question presumes the relevance of the preceding phases and questions.

Given CEM’s contingency component, “When?” is always a pertinent question — increasingly so as compositional change increases relative to circumstantial change (II). And given that the basis for CEM is the Nature of Things, one of whose general persisting conditions is consequentiality, then “Why?” always pertains … it too becoming a question that changes as CEM’s consequentiality becomes more processually compositional.

Only as we get to the bottom of things, so to speak, does it become apparent that our picture has been too often incomplete (e.g., the order of things’ determinism) and biased toward one or another interest and question (e.g., the order of things for physicists vs. the Nature of Things for community builders in this World of Possibility).

(c) R.F. Carter