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The past of the system is conceived as no more than the continuous succession of its states of presence.

I know that the word "succession" have a meaning of "something that comes after". So I think that whenever there is a sentence with the word "succession", it should have this form: "A" succession of "Something that happened before A". However, in the given sentence, it says "past of the system" in front of the word "succession" and "states of presence" at the back which seems like a reverse form of what I suggested. So it sounds awkward for me. Can someone explain?

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A succession is not "something that comes after" something else: it is the fact that one or more things follow each other: a "sequence".

So "continuous succession of states" is a sequence of states, the fact that states follow each other: one state, then another state, then another, and so forth.

The author conceives the history of a system as an ordered list of states. Think of it as movie footage: each frame of the film represents a momentary state.

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