An Existential Understanding of Matter

Matter exists; it is a form of being. An atom, itself exists as a whole, exhibiting specific properties that arise from its constituent parts, particularly protons and electrons, The number of protons define it as a specific element, having a place on the periodic table.

Science long ago separated compounds into elements that exhibit individual properties. Elements have been reduced to the smallest unit that exhibits the elements properties – the atom. Atoms and other forms of matter and energy have been broken down into quantum events. Subatomic events such as the photon, we have discovered, can exist as individual particles or merged, in this case as a light beam, where they behave as waves.

The simplest atom is that of Hydrogen, which fuses within the sun to form  heavier elements. Atoms come together as molecules. These forms of matter, atoms and molecules, interact by means of their electromagnetic properties, the electrons and protons of which they are constituted. These interactions have an associated shape. The Carbon atom has a tetrahedral shape. This allows for the complexity that is found in the myriad of different organic molecules.

Proteins are one type of organic molecule that provides for the structures and functions that make up living organisms. The role that a particular protein plays in a living organism has to do with the particular shape that is formed by its electrostatic forces. Proteins provide structure such as the toughness of skin or sturdiness in bones, allow for movement in muscles, carry out communication between organ systems, as hormones and transmitters, transport nutrients such as oxygen in red blood cells, assist in the balance of fluids by drawing and maintaining water in blood vessels, and protect the body from disease as antibodies.

The complexities of matter in time and space grow as the events, from the smallest to the largest, coalesce. The subatomic allows for existence of atoms, which join to form molecules, combining as intracellular organs, making possible cells, which are specialized to make possible organ systems, all of which together constitute the bodies of animals. Diverse animal species are possible as a result of their particular physical make up.

In addition to their material structure, living things exhibit behavioural characteristics, which are beyond the basic and elemental forces of nature. We can describe the over-all organization of matter as a particular soul that makes a cat, for example, a cat.

Even if catness were an illusion rather than a revelation of a kind of living thing, it would be a feature of mankind’s soul or existential being, an attribute that brings together the matter, which we are and to which we relate on the outside, through our senses. To varying degrees and in different ways we manifest the human capacity to understand the world’s physical and moral foundations, and act upon that knowledge. Our physical being includes that of matter at each level described above, subsumed by the human soul, which allows for all those processes to express that humanity in time and space.

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