Time changes, people change, circumstances change, things change. Is it a philosophical truth that everything changes?

  • 1
    +1 What is atemporal, such as a universal, would not change although it might be creative without making something. Mar 6, 2018 at 5:09
  • 1
    change is not "a thing". Mar 6, 2018 at 8:30
  • Change is a result of cooperation of things. Mar 6, 2018 at 14:03
  • Hi, welcome to Philosophy SE. Please visit our Help Center to see what questions we answer and how to ask. One-line posts are discouraged because it is hard to tell from them what people are looking for. We are looking for specific questions that are more or less objectively answerable rather than themes for musings, however philosophically interesting.
    – Conifold
    Mar 7, 2018 at 5:09

4 Answers 4


'Time changes, people change , circumstances change, things change. Is it a philosophical truth that everything changes ?'

Doesn't the remark imply or presuppose some constants ? If time changes it must remain in order to change - otherwise it would not have changed but passed out of existence. If people change, don't they remain people - don't they remain as the subjects of change ? Else again they would cease to be people ? If my circumstances change the new circumstances remain my circumstances. 'Things' is too wide and general a term to discuss precisely but if a thing such as a chair changes by being painted white when it previously had been blue, doesn't the chair remain.

Also two side comments :

  1. Some things cannot change, e.g. the number 7 though our knowledge of its properties might alter.

  2. There are changes which some things cannot undergo because the alteration of their state causes them to cease to exist. If I die immediately after writing this mail, I have not changed; I have ceased to exist.

  • All the subjects of change cease to exist i.e they change from state of existence to non-existence. Mar 7, 2018 at 2:07
  • Thank you. Yes, I can see a sense in which this is so. The blue chair ceases to exist. Have you read Heraclitus ? You can never step into the same river twice, (a) because it's a different river and (b) because you are a different person ? Forgive me if you are already familiar with this Ancient Greek philosopher.
    – Geoffrey Thomas
    Mar 7, 2018 at 8:19

Is change the only thing constant?

The word "thing" has got different meanings. When it means an object, change is not a thing. It is also used to refer in an approximate way to an idea, subject, event, action, etc. Then the answer to this question is "No". As you mentioned in your question, time changes, people change, circumstances change, things change. But there must be/is a changeless thing behind all these changes. And Hindus call it Brahman. Some people call it God. This word (God) is being used in different meanings. So, that word is insufficient to 'illustrate' Brahman. It is beyond philosophical truth also.

See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brahman

  • How do you Brahman is constant ? Have you seen Brahman who claims to be ageless? Mar 6, 2018 at 12:08
  • To answer to your 'How-question' about Brahman he must be something greater than Brahman. I believe you have read the contents in the link. To your second question: I am sure that the words (about Brahman) of great men who realized that Brahman is identical to the Atman, are truths. Mar 6, 2018 at 14:27

I believe we have seen strong evidence that everything changes, especially from a scientific perspective. However, the true answer to whether everything changes or not is an open question. Indeed philosophers have pondered whether we could even become aware of something which is not changing, for the concept of awareness is tricky in that aspect. Many religions, such as the Abrahamic religions treat the presence of God as a constant, but proofs for religious topics are indeed hard to come by.

I think the phrasing "Everything changes" has been an effective philosophy because it contains a thinly veiled paradox. Generally speaking, I have found the popular paradoxes in philosophy tend to encourage further thought, especially thought that frees one from the confines of language. If I interpret such a phrase logically, it suggests that change is a constant, and thus there is something that is constant, so not everything changes. The phrasing "The only constant is change" is a rewording that strives to escape that paradox, but runs into other linguistic challenges regarding whether "everything" is a "thing" which can be defined in such a way as to be constant or not. Many, such as Alan Watts, argue that once you have identified that which the noun "everything" represents, you find that it is no longer something that can be given a name. (If memory serves, he uses the Hindu term nirguna to capture the idea of something that cannot be given a name)

  • Great answer. I'd agree about the linguistic problem. It's possible to say that everything changes while also saying that not all phenomena change because not every phenomena is a 'thing'. As you say, for many philosophers by reduction there would be such thing as a 'thing'. So, as you say, the question opens a can of worms in just the way paradoxes usually do.
    – user20253
    Mar 8, 2018 at 13:01
  • We know what are we talking about here. If you want you can rephrase :everything changes except this truth. But that is not the point. The point is you ,me, animals , plants, ship, spaceship, protons ,neutrons , cells,DNA, water, earth, air ...everything ...I mean everything changes and not only that; they also change from state of existence to non existence. It is an obvious truth which has not been recognised by philosophy. Mar 9, 2018 at 18:33
  • @DheerajVerma I don't know if I'd say it hasn't been recognized by philosophy. There's plenty of lines of reasoning within the corpus of philosophical texts which address this concept. There's even more texts which point out the subtle issue of trying to convey that thing that we are trying to convey, which turns out to be tricky indeed.
    – Cort Ammon
    Mar 9, 2018 at 18:37
  • @CortAmmon One simple consequence of believing in impermanence is that it predicts end of Universe, sun , moon,earth, galaxies, black holes , space, time ,atoms, strings ,life and even multiverse. The prediction extends to multiverse. The wave function of quantum mechanics can not keep branching forever. Mar 9, 2018 at 22:39
  • @DheerajVerma One can believe that to be a consequence. It turns out to be surprisingly hard to prove because of the aformentioned linguistic challenges. It turns out that eternity is a very long time, and our words fall short of capturing its meaning with any great precision.
    – Cort Ammon
    Mar 9, 2018 at 22:43

The expansion of the universe is accelerating, so we expect a 'heat death', an essential static state of hydrogen atoms and photons getting ever further apart, with no variations in the part. So by most reasonable definitions, unchanging. More generally, there is finite entropy so things wind down and decay into stable states, barring intervention.

  • 1
    Scientists say that even protons decay therefore the so called stable states will also decay. Mar 6, 2018 at 12:11
  • @Dheeraj Verma: Then there must be something subtler than protons or photons. Mar 6, 2018 at 14:16
  • Dream is subtler than protons. Dreams are immaterial. Mar 6, 2018 at 14:18
  • You can say mind is subtler. Mar 6, 2018 at 14:20

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.