Recently, in using the terms actuality, possibility, and necessity, I’ve run into a problem. The problem is that I cannot compare that which is possible with that which is actual because the possible is contained in the actual. More on this presently! I like to start from the start with these things mostly because I’m too lazy to do any background reading, but (small) partly because I’d like to understand my own thinking before developing it dialectically.
I’ll focus just on the relationship between possibility and actuality because the reader can make the further necessary connections. I cannot exclude possibility, that which could be, from actuality, that which is, because possibility is based in the actual, defined in relation to it. Additionally, similarly, etc, the only thing outside of actuality is that which is not because actuality encompasses all that is. Possibility is not that which is not but that which is not yet. It only escapes actuality by virtue of time and time is actual. It is a weak actuality that is only defined by the present, because the present is propelled by the past and pulled by the future. Thus actuality encompasses all that was, is, and will be. Possibility is actuality.
How then can we speak of a possibility which has not yet been actualised/realised? We falter in our terms. Possibility is always actual, but its mode differs according to where it occurs in time. When possibility is viewed in the present, in a vulgar sense it has not been actualised. Yet it is actual. And when it eventually is vulgarly actualised, it remains actual. Since they are both actual, real, etc, maybe they could be named with reference to time, so the former present possibility and the latter future possibility. Or more simply, can we speak of unfulfilled and fulfilled possibility?
One final thought on imagined possibility. Just because something is imagined as possible, it doesn’t necessarily make it possible. The imagining remains actual as an imagining, but not as a possibility. Possibility isn’t contingent on an observer.
* * *