Is there a term for properties that an entity has at a particular time, but which depend on the properties it has at other times?

For example, when he was a child, Lebron James had the property of being a future NBA player. This property depended on him possessing the property of being an NBA player at a future time. Or if the velocity of an object at a time t is the derivative of its position with respect to time at t, then the velocity of an object at t depends on its position at prior times.

  • Actually, in physics, velocity is considered part of the state at the current time. See en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lagrangian_mechanics : the system dynamics are described by a function L(q, v, t) where q is position, v is velocity, and t is time. Together (q, v) make up the phase space of the system. A particle at (1, 0) with velocity (2, 3) is considered to have a different instantaneous state than a particle at (1, 0) with velocity (-1, 5).
    – causative
    Commented Oct 9, 2021 at 14:18
  • State. That is the product of past states, actions and interactions.
    – RodolfoAP
    Commented Oct 9, 2021 at 17:12
  • @causative: It's not like Lagrangians are the only formalism
    – CriglCragl
    Commented Oct 9, 2021 at 20:20
  • 1
    Some authors call them diachronic properties, especially in linguistics, see e.g. Epistemological and mathematical considerations on the structure of H-Semiotic Systems and Diachronic Mind, p. 194.
    – Conifold
    Commented Oct 9, 2021 at 23:40
  • 1
    i am completely unsurprised that asking a simple question about terminology led to me getting 8 comments in which people gave me wrong answers, non-answers, or completely irrelevant lectures about physics. i hate philosophy.
    – user236343
    Commented Oct 14, 2021 at 0:44

1 Answer 1


There is nothing special about such a property. It is simply a property of objects that are associated with a state-function from Times→States. Take any person X with associated state-function F. Then X having your example property simply means that ∀t∈Times ( X is a child at time t ∧ ∃u∈Times ( t < u ∧ X is an NBA player at time u ) ), which can be expressed using F as ∀t∈Times ( Child(F(t)) ∧ ∃u∈Times ( t < u ∧ NBAPlayer(F(u)) ) ). This is no different from properties of real-world objects in general. I think you have unconsciously made the wrong assumption that an object has different properties over time in the logical sense of properties. Logically, if you wish to consider each object as lasting more than a single point in time, then it cannot have different properties over its lifespan. Each object would be associated with its entire lifespan, and we can of course define any property of objects based on that whole lifespan.

There are in fact many common such real-world properties, such as "dying" and "coming" and in general any present continuous participle or perfect participle in English. There are also special adjectives that capture more complicated such properties, such as "intermittent" and "consistent". There are special adverbs that modify adjectives to yield other complicated such properties, such as "temporarily" and "repeatedly". There is no obvious limit to the complexity of such properties in natural language. For example consider "temporarily intermittent".

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