A philosophical term (Gr. γίγνεσθαι; Lat. fieri ) that is not strictly definable but is understood by contrast with permanent being. Man's senses show him all things as coming-to-be and passing away. heraclitus made this process essential to physical bodies to the exclusion of any permanent being. The Heraclitean position was revived with some modification in modern philosophy by G. W. F. hegel and H. L. bergson. parmenides declared becoming illusory and emphasized the absolute and unchangeable character of being, as conceived by the intellect. plato tempered this opposition with the distinction that becoming is perceived by opinion with the help of sensation, while being is perceived by reason (Rep. 508D). The reconciliation of becoming with being thus became the central problem of Greek philosophy. Aristotle distinguished the kinds of being—potential and actual, substantial and accidental—and thus was able to show that there is becoming with respect to each class of being (Phys. 201a 8, 225a 12–19). The term "becoming" in an unqualified sense came to be reserved for the coming-into-being of substances. The coming-into-being of accidents is called "becoming with qualification." When an accident is changed from a less to a more perfect state, the process is called motion. Contemporary psychology, under the stimulus of existentialism, uses the term "becoming" to signify the development of personality.
See Also: change; generation-corruption; motion
[m. a. glutz]