April 30, 2015

# Materials, Parts & Static Situations

Materials, or constituents, are used to indicate a particular partially tangible thing which makes up another (possibly non-distinct) partially tangible thing. We think of materials as a relationship between an individual object which is partially constituted by a thing, and that thing which is more or less uniformly distributed in the object. For example, the two teaspoons of chocolate syrup that I put in my milk become materials, or constituents, of my glass of chocolate milk. Note that the materials relationship does not entail any special kind of association or bond among the constituents of a thing; they might be simply mixed, they might be chemically bonded, and they might be part of some complex structure.

Parts are treated as relationships between individuals and their (individual) “parts”, where this is understood in a very broad sense that includes spatial parts, temporal parts, “conceptual” parts, members of groups, and so forth. The part relationship is used to say that some thing is in some sense a part of a whole. Note that this some thing need not be a proper part of the whole: parts is a reflexive binary predicate. Important kinds of parts include the physical parts, sub-events, time-slices, sub-information, and group members.

Static Situations are a kind of temporal situation. Each static situation is a state of affairs between two or more things, persisting statically over some time interval. Static situations always have a temporal extent, and they usually have a tangible and spatial extent. As an example, consider the situation of Bill Clinton sitting in his easy chair on the evening of 7/4/96. There are participant objects such as Bill and the chair, there are relationships such as the seat of the chair supporting his bottom and his weight being off his feet, etc. In any static situation, for the participants in that situation, there is some significant or focal relationship between them which does not change. In the most typical cases, there is no important change whatsoever, e.g. someone sitting would be such a static situation. But some things represented as static situations can alternatively be represented as events. For example, a situation in which geese were flying in a flock would be static (the flock-like spatial relationship between the geese would be retained) but it would also be dynamic in that the geese were moving, so either representation could be chosen depending on the context.