Time and space are universal forms of the existence of matter, the coordination of objects.
All material bodies have a certain extension: length, breadth, height. They are variously placed in relation to each other and constitute parts of one or another system.
Space is a form of coordination of coexisting objects and states of matter.
It consists in the fact that objects are extra posed to one another (alongside, beside, beneath, above, within, behind, in front, etc.) and have certain quantitative relationships. The order of coexistence of these objects and their states forms the structure of space.
Material phenomena are characterized by their duration, the sequence of the stages of their motion, their development.
Processes may take place either simultaneously, or precede or succeed one another. Such, for example, is the interrelation between day and night.
The dimension of time can be measured only with the help of certain standards (in seconds. minutes, hours, days, years, centuries, etc.), that is to say, motions that are accepted as being even.
The perception of time also allows us to assess the sequence and duration of events.
Depending on our subjective sensations such as merriment or grief, pleasure or boredom, time seems either short or long. Time is a form of coordination of objects and states of matter in their succession.
It consists in the fact that every state is a consecutive link in a process and has certain quantitative relations with other states. The order of succession of these objects and states forms the structure of time.
Space and time are universal forms of the existence of matter, the coordination of objects.
The universality of these forms lies in the fact that they are forms of existence of all the objects and processes that have ever existed or will exist in the infinite universe.
Not only the events of the external world but also all feelings and thoughts take place in time and space. In the material world, everything has extension and duration.
Time and space have their peculiarities.
Space has three dimensions: length, breadth, and height, but time has only one—from the past through the present to the future. It is inevitable, unrepeatable and irreversible.
A correct understanding of the essence of space and time is closely connected with the scientific picture of the world. Everything is differentiated, broken down into relatively stable extra posed material formations.
The processes that occur in them and condition their conservation (reproduction) and at the same time their transformation, are also differentiated: they constitute the consecutive change of the states of an object.
Time and space exist objectively.
Although we may feel how time in its inexorable passage is carrying us away, we can neither halt nor prolong it. We cannot recover a single moment of existence. The flow of time is beyond our control. We are as helpless in it as a chip of wood in a river.
Dialectics proceeds from the acknowledgment of the unity of motion, space, time and matter, which is expressed in the principle that various forms of the structural organization of matter and the levels of this organization are characterized by their specific motion, space and time.
Thus the spatial organization of a crystal differs from that of a blossoming rose. The time of historical events occurs is experienced by their participants and is preserved in the memory of mankind and this kind of time differs from the purely physical time of, say, the motion of the celestial bodies.
However, metaphysical thought separates matter from motion, and both of them, from space and time.
Newton, for example, assumed that space was the empty container of things, that it was incorporeal, absolutely penetrable, never influenced anything and was never affected by any influence.
Universal space was considered to be filled with absolutely motionless ether, and moving bodies were thought to encounter an “ethereal wind” like the wind that resists a running person.
Space was allegedly immutable and motionless, its attributes did not depend on anything, even time; nor did they depend on material bodies or their motion. One could remove all bodies from space and space would still exist and retain its attributes.
Newton held the same views about time.
He believed that time flowed by in the same way throughout the universe and this flow did not depend on anything; time was therefore absolute. Like a river, it flowed on of its own accord, heedless of the existence of material processes.
The idea of absolute space and time corresponded to the physical picture of the world, namely the system of views of matter as a set of atoms separated from each other, possessing immutable volume and inertia (mass), and influencing each other instantaneously either at a distance or through contact.
Revision of the physical picture of the world changed the view of space and time.
The discovery of the electromagnetic field and the realization that field could not be reduced to a state of mechanical environment revealed the flaws in the classical picture of the world.
It turned out that matter could not be represented as a set of separate, strictly dissociated elements. The particles of matter are indeed connected with one another in integral systems by fields whose action is transmitted at a finite speed that is equal for any closed system (the speed of light in a vacuum).
It was held previously that if all matter disappeared from the universe, time and space would remain. The theory of relativity, however, maintains that with the disappearance of matter space and time would also disappear.
To sum up, everything in the world is spatial and temporal. Time and space are absolute.
But since these are forms of matter in motion, they are not indifferent to their content.
When it moves, an object does not leave an empty from behind it, space is not an apartment that can be let out to such a tenant as matter, and time cannot be compared to some monster that gnaws at things and leaves its tooth marks on them.
Time and space are conditioned by matter, as a form is conditioned by its content, and every level of the motion of matter possesses its space-time structure.
Thus living cells and organisms, in which geometry becomes more complex and the rhythm of time changes, possess special space-time properties. This is biological time.
There is also historical time, whose unit may be the replacement of one generation by another, which corresponds to a century.
Depending on our practical needs, historical time is counted in centuries and millennia. The reference point may be certain cultural-historical events or even legends.
*This article was originally published at www.marxists.org.