Extending on an earlier paper [Found. Phys. Ltt., 16(4) 343–355, (2003)], it is argued that instants of time and the instantaneous (including instantaneous relative position) do not actually exist. This conclusion, one which is also argued to represent the correct solution to Zeno’s motion paradoxes, has several implications for modern physics and for our philosophical view of time, including that time and space cannot be quantized; that contrary to common interpretation, motion and change are compatible with (...) the “block” universe and relativity; and that time, space, and space-time too, cannot exist. Instead, motion and change become the major players. (shrink)
Our model of time is the classical continuum of real numbers, and our model of other measurable quantities that change over time is that of functions defined on real numbers with real numbers as values. This model is not derived from reality or from our experience of it, but imposed on reality; and the fit is very imperfect. In classical mathematics, the value of a function for any real number as argument is independent of its value for any (...) other argument: the analogue is Hume's doctrine that events are loose and separate. This makes continuity in the change of any quantity a contingent law of physica, rather than a conceptual necessity. The article explores alternatives to this classical model. (shrink)
The article discusses the relation between two intuitive properties of time, namely its flow and branching. Both properties are introduced first in an informal way and compared. The conclusion of this informal analysis is that the two properties do not entail each other nor are they in contradiction. In order to verify this, we briefly introduced the branching temporal structures called branching space-time, branching continuation and their versions Minkowski branching structure and branching time with Instants. Two (...) possible ways how to formalize flow of time are given, one based on the definition of flow of time from temporal logics and the other based on relativistic physics. The latter is used to define flow of time with the use of linearly ordered points on worldines while respecting the ontological definiteness given by the difference of the past and the future. This is formalized in each of the branching models and it is concluded by comparing the resulting properties that branching and flow, even in the formal sense, do not entail each other. However, notions connected with flow of time represent a useful basis for semantics of the branching models. (shrink)
Walter Burley is the author of a treatise, entitled De primo et ultimo instanti, which is regarded as the most popular medieval work on the problem of assigning first and last instants of being to permanent things. In this paper, however, the author does not deal with this treatise directly. She looks instead at Burley’s Physics commentary to see how he applies the ideas presented in De primo et ultimo instanti to the solution of an Aristotelian puzzle about the (...) ceasing to be of the present instant. In Burley’s interpretation, the relevant question raised by the puzzle is whether the present instant ceases to be when it is or when it is not. While Aristotle’s argument quickly dismisses the first alternative as absurd, Burley defends it by appealing to the ‘expositions’ of sentences about ceasing. Given that the sentence ‘this instant ceases to be’ has two expositions— ‘this instant now is and immediately afterwards will not be’ or ‘this instant now is not and immediately beforehand was’ —Burley maintains that the sentence is true in exposition but not true in exposition, so that an instant ceases to be when it is and not when it is not. (shrink)
What it would take to vindicate folk temporal error theory? This question is significant against a backdrop of new views in quantum gravity—so-called timeless physical theories—that claim to eliminate time by eliminating a one-dimensional substructure of ordered temporal instants. Ought we to conclude that if these views are correct, nothing satisfies the folk concept of time and hence that folk temporal error theory is true? In light of evidence we gathered, we argue that physical theories that entirely (...) eliminate an ordered substructure vindicate folk temporal error theory. (shrink)
As we speak about time in the context of everyday life, we have no problem with what we mean by time. We take time as given. Different kinds of theories of development rely on the ordinary concept of time. Time is a sequence of instants, and we are moving along from the past to the future, from birth to death. Moving in time also means development. It does not take into account how a (...) human being is in the time. It flattens our view of human life and cannot describe our manifold being. According to theories of development, if a child does not behave in a certain instant as the theories expect, there must be a problem with that child or she has not developed as well as others. Heidegger uses terms like time-space, temporality and ecstases of time. The question of time is of the same kind as the question of Being. We are in the world and in time in the same way. We all have experience of time, how it sometimes goes quickly and sometimes very slowly. Time is not experienced as moments one after another. It is time-space. Time-space means that time has three dimensions and it consists of the ecstatical opening up of the future, the past and the present. In this article, I will open up the question how the traditional understanding of time and the ecstatic understanding of time understand children differently. What does it mean that little children live exclusively in the present? (shrink)
Instead of accepting instants of time as metaphysically basic entities, many philosophers regard them as abstractions from something else. There is the Russell-Whitehead view that times are maximal classes of simultaneous events; the linguistic ersatzer's proposal that times are maximally consistent sets of sentences or propositions; and the view that times are made up of temporal parts of material objects. This paper discusses the advantages and disadvantages of these various proposals and concludes in favor of a particular version (...) of linguistic ersatzism about time. (shrink)
The starting point of Merleau-Ponty’s reflection on time is the notion of functioning intentionality observed in its specific application as a perceptive activity. Through an original treatment of the notion of the perceptual field, the French philosopher describes the activity that, within this field, a particular protagonist carries out, namely one’s own body: a particular kind of extension thanks to which it is possible to overcome all those dualistic prejudices that abstractly contrast the subject, or consciousness, with the world (...) and its objects. Instead, in the perceptual field described in the pages of Phenomenology of Perception, the body and the world are “born” in unison. They are reciprocally constituted, to such a point that we can no longer speak of a pure subject or of a disembodied consciousness, separated from objects, but must speak of a corporeal knowledge that is always in relationship with a world that, for its part, finds its objective dimension only by abstracting from that original conferring of meaning attributed to it by bodily action. Now, it is on the basis of this that the analysis of temporality is carried out. The present is a nexus of time that one’s own body lives and exists in the perceptual field. More than a representation, time, with its dimensions, is a concrete thickness that is stratified a-thematically in the activity of the body that always inheres in the world. It thus involves not a linear becoming, a summation of instants, but a flow, a continual transition that, from the present, allows access to the past and future which in turn emerge as stratified in the lived time of the present. (shrink)
The central task of the book is to compare and contrast the model of time as comprised of discrete instants and the model of time as a continuum. The first half of the book develops axiomatic and algebraic interconnections between "point structures" and "period structures"; the second half explores the connections between propositional tense logics in the tradition of A.N. Prior and the associated point and period models. Both the author's fine style and the publisher's excellent layout (...) and typefaces contribute to making this a particularly pleasant, readable volume. The level of exposition is that of texts for beginning graduate students interested in logic or abstract algebra. (shrink)
Russell and Walker proposed different ways of constructing instants from events. For an explanation of "time as a continuum," Thomason favored Walker's construction. The present article shows that Russell's construction fares as well. To this end, a mathematical characterization problem is solved which corresponds to the characterization problem that Thomason solved with regard to Walker's construction. It is shown how to characterize those event structures (formally, interval orders) which, through Russell's construction of instants, become linear orders isomorphic (...) to a given (or, deriving, to some—nontrivial ordered) real interval. As tools, separate characterizations for each of resulting (i) Dedekind completeness, (ii) separability, (iii) plurality of elements, (iv) existence of certain endpoints are provided. Denseness is characterized to replace Russell's erroneous attempt. Somewhat minimal nonconstructive principles needed are exhibited, and some alternative approaches are surveyed. (shrink)
Given four modest verificationist theses, tying the meaning of talk about instants and periods to the events which (physically) could occur during, before or after them, the only content to the claim the Universe had a beginning (applicable equally to chaotic or orderly universes) is in terms of it being preceded by empty time. It follows that time cannot have a beginning. The Universe, however, could have a beginning--even if it has lasted for an infinite time.
: Usually, when studying schematism we devote almost exclusive attention to the study of the modifications that the categories suffer when combined with time. Instead, we have focused our attention on the determinations that time receives when combined with the categories. Departing from the definition of the transcendental schemata as “determinations of time”, an attempt is made to establish the various determinations that time receives from each one of the categories, as these perform the determination of (...)time in schematism. The categories of quantity allow us to think of time as a series of homogeneous unities; the categories of quality show each instant of time as a receptacle able to receive the different intensities of the real; the categories of relation establish a rule-dependent order on the flow of time; finally, the categories of modality determine the whole of time forming a collective unity that gathers or embraces each one of the instants of time preserving its specificity. (shrink)
In this paper I explore three related topics emerging from Prior's work on the logic of time. First, what is the proper province of logic, if any? Is temporal (modal) logic just logic, on a par with the paradigmatic case of first order quantication theory or even simple propositional logic? Second, what counts as an interpretation of a formal system? In particular, can formal semantics provide an interpretation? Third, what is the proper role of the meta-theory? In connection with (...) this last question we will see how Prior's attitude towards instants of time may teach us something about the analogous case of possible worlds. (shrink)
The plane of the present is a concept that is useful for discussing the various paradigms of time. Here by ‘plane of the present’ we mean the temporal interface that represents the present instant and that forms the boundary between the past and the future. We use the geometrical term ‘plane’ to indicate an extended surface in the space-time continuum, as opposed to a ‘point’ on some time axis. This point/plane dichotomy is intended to raise issues of (...) extension and simultaneity and to examine the degree to which these are meaningful concepts from various physical viewpoints. We will show by example in the present work that the plane of the present is a pivotal concept that offers considerable power in differentiating between various views of the nature of time. The concept of time within the main stream of physics thinking has followed a rather convoluted path over the past three millennia. Anticipating the modern motion picture, Zeno of Elea (c.490-c.430 B.C) questioned whether time should appropriately be viewed as a continuously flowing river, or should more properly be considered as a rapid sequence of stop-motion ‘freeze-frames’, in effect rendering geometrical each instant as a separate infinitesimal point on the line of time. Adopting this view, he asked how physical motion could occur. He argued paradoxically that motion is not possible, since it appears to happen only between the frozen frames of timeinstants.1 From the viewpoint of Zeno, the plane of the present would be simply the last and most recent in this sequence of freeze-frames. It would be that frozen instant, spanning the universe, which changes progressively as the instant we call ‘now’ becomes the frozen past and future possibility freezes into the ‘now’ of present reality. We note that the plane of the present as a concept does not resolve the arrow paradox that Zeno raised. It only provides a way of thinking about it. (shrink)
Does time seem to pass, even though it doesn’t, really? Many philosophers think the answer is ‘Yes’—at least when ‘time’s passing’ is understood in a particular way. They take time’s passing to be a process by which each time in turn acquires a special status, such as the status of being the only time that exists, or being the only time that is present. This chapter suggests that, on the contrary, all we perceive is (...) temporal succession, one thing after another, a notion to which modern physics is not inhospitable. The contents of perception are best described in terms of ‘before’ and ‘after’, rather than ‘past’, ‘present, and ‘future’. (shrink)
“The universe is expanding, not contracting.” Many statements of this form appear unambiguously true; after all, the discovery of the universe’s expansion is one of the great triumphs of empirical science. However, the statement is time-directed: the universe expands towards what we call the future; it contracts towards the past. If we deny that time has a direction, should we also deny that the universe is really expanding? This article draws together and discusses what I call ‘C-theories’ of (...)time — in short, philosophical positions that hold time lacks a direction — from different areas of the literature. I set out the various motivations, aims, and problems for C-theories, and outline different versions of antirealism about the direction of time. (shrink)
What is it to remember an episode from one’s past? How does episodic memory give us knowledge of the personal past? What explains the emergence of the apparently uniquely human ability to relive the past? Drawing on current research on mental time travel, this book proposes an integrated set of answers to these questions, arguing that remembering is a matter of simulating past episodes, that we can identify metacognitive mechanisms enabling episodic simulation to meet standards of reliability sufficient for (...) knowledge, and that the subjective experience of reliving the past is a precondition for the reliability of simulational remembering. The resulting account of memory, memory knowledge, and their evolution will be of interest both to philosophers interested in empirically-informed approaches to memory and to psychologists interested in the philosophical implications of empirical memory research. (shrink)
This chapter discusses the notion that time passes, along with two major families of objections to this notion. The first kind of objection concerns the rate at which time passes; it has often been suggested that no coherent rate can be given. The alleged problems for the standard view, that time passes at one second per second, are discussed. A positive suggestion is then made for a way of making sense of the claim that time passes (...) at one second per second, based on the notion of ‘stretching’ properties such as ‘being future’ across a time series made up of events. The second family of objections concerns the experience of time passing. Two arguments are discussed, one of which concerns epistemological issues while the other concerns the intentionality of experience. Overall the arguments from experience weigh against the passage of time. (shrink)
Two radically different views about time are possible. According to the first, the universe is three dimensional. It has a past and a future, but that does not mean it is spread out in time as it is spread out in the three dimensions of space. This view requires that there is an unambiguous, absolute, cosmic-wide "now" at each instant. According to the second view about time, the universe is four dimensional. It is spread out in both (...) space and time - in space-time in short. Special and general relativity rule out the first view. There is, according to relativity theory, no such thing as an unambiguous, absolute cosmic-wide "now" at each instant. However, we have every reason to hold that both special and general relativity are false. Not only does the historical record tell us that physics advances from one false theory to another. Furthermore, elsewhere I have shown that we must interpret physics as having established physicalism - in so far as physics can ever establish anything theoretical. Physicalism, here, is to be interpreted as the thesis that the universe is such that some unified "theory of everything" is true. Granted physicalism, it follows immediately that any physical theory that is about a restricted range of phenomena only, cannot be true, whatever its empirical success may be. It follows that both special and general relativity are false. This does not mean of course that the implication of these two theories that there is no unambiguous cosmic-wide "now" at each instant is false. It still may be the case that the first view of time, indicated at the outset, is false. Are there grounds for holding that an unambiguous cosmic-wide "now" does exist, despite special and general relativity, both of which imply that it does not exist? There are such grounds. Elsewhere I have argued that, in order to solve the quantum wave/particle problem and make sense of the quantum domain we need to interpret quantum theory as a fundamentally probabilistic theory, a theory which specifies how quantum entities - electrons, photons, atoms - interact with one another probabilistically. It is conceivable that this is correct, and the ultimate laws of the universe are probabilistic in character. If so, probabilistic transitions could define unambiguous, absolute cosmic-wide "nows" at each instant. It is entirely unsurprising that special and general relativity have nothing to say about the matter. Both theories are pre-quantum mechanical, classical theories, and general relativity in particular is deterministic. The universe may indeed be three dimensional, with a past and a future, but not spread out in four dimensional space-time, despite the fact that relativity theories appear to rule this out. These considerations, finally, have implications for views about the arrow of time and free will. (shrink)
This paper proposes a view of time that takes passage to be the most basic temporal notion, instead of the usual A-theoretic and B-theoretic notions, and explores how we should think of a world that exhibits such a genuine temporal passage. It will be argued that an objective passage of time can only be made sense of from an atemporal point of view and only when it is able to constitute a genuine change of objects across time. (...) This requires that passage can flip one fact into a contrary fact, even though neither side of the temporal passage is privileged over the other. We can make sense of this if the world is inherently perspectival. Such an inherently perspectival world is characterized by fragmentalism, a view that has been introduced by Fine in his ‘Tense and Reality’ (2005). Unlike Fine's tense-theoretic fragmentalism though, the proposed view will be a fragmentalist view based in a primitive notion of passage. (shrink)
Part 2 is concerned, in chapter 4, with semantic features of dates and duration terms, and, in chapter 5, with the conventionality of measurements of duration, and the incoherence of durationless instants.
This book provides an account of the nature of time, especially time's arrow and the role of entropy, at a semi-popular level. Special attention is given to statistical mechanics, the past hypothesis, and possible cosmological explanations thereof.
We propose a solution to the problem of time for systems with a single global Hamiltonian constraint. Our solution stems from the observation that, for these theories, conventional gauge theory methods fail to capture the full classical dynamics of the system and must therefore be deemed inappropriate. We propose a new strategy for consistently quantizing systems with a relational notion of time that does capture the full classical dynamics of the system and allows for evolution parametrized by an (...) equitable internal clock. This proposal contains the minimal temporal structure necessary to retain the ordering of events required to describe classical evolution. In the context of shape dynamics (an equivalent formulation of general relativity that is locally scale invariant and free of the local problem of time) our proposal can be shown to constitute a natural methodology for describing dynamical evolution in quantum gravity and to lead to a quantum theory analogous to the Dirac quantization of unimodular gravity. (shrink)
McTaggart, in his famous paper, “The Unreality of Time” (1908), argues in favor of the sceptical claim that time is unreal. His main argument is based on detecting a paradox in our ordinary descriptions of time or events occurring in time. Based on our common sense conception of time, time and the events happening in it can be described in two ways: either as having the properties of “being past”, “being present” and “being future”, (...) or as having the properties of “being earlier than”, “being later than”, or “being simultaneous with”. McTaggart argues that employing the second sort of properties fails to properly explain “change” in time. However, having assumed the essentiality of the first type of properties to time, McTaggart argues that these properties will themselves lead to a paradox, according to which all events are at the same time in the past, present, and future. In this essay, we are going to provide a clear exposition of McTaggart’s argument and briefly review some of the main responses to it. We will then show that McTaggart’s argument will amount to error-theory about the content of our utterances about time. We will then employ Boghossian’s argument against error-theory (1990) to show why McTaggart’s argument leads to paradoxical conclusions. (shrink)
This monograph is a detailed study, and systematic defence, of the Growing Block Theory of time (GBT), first conceived by C.D. Broad. The book offers a coherent, logically perspicuous and ideologically lean formulation of GBT, defends it against the most notorious objections to be found in the extant philosophical literature, and shows how it can be derived from a more general theory, consistent with relativistic spacetime, on the pre-relativistic assumption of an absolute and total temporal order. -/- The authors (...) devise axiomatizations of GBT and its competitors which, against the backdrop of a shared quantified tense logic, significantly improves the prospects of their comparative assessment. Importantly, neither of these axiomatizations involves commitment to properties of presentness, pastness or futurity. The authors proceed to address, and defuse, a number of objections that have been marshaled against GBT, including the so-called epistemic objection according to which the theory invites skepticism about our temporal location. The challenge posed by relativistic physics is met head-on, by replacing claims about temporal variation by claims about variation across spacetime. -/- The book aims to achieve the greatest possible rigor. The background logic is set out in detail, as are the principles governing the notions of precedence and temporal location. The authors likewise devise a novel spacetime logic suited for the articulation, and comparative assessment, of relativistic theories of time. The book comes with three technical appendices which include soundness and completeness proofs for the systems corresponding to GBT and its competitors, in both their pre-relativistic and relativistic forms. -/- The book is primarily directed at researchers and graduate students working on the philosophy of time or temporal logic, but is of interest to metaphysicians and philosophical logicians more generally. (shrink)
This is an expanded and revised discussion of the argument briefly put forward in my 'A New Problem for the A-Theory of Time', where it is claimed that it is impossible to experience real temporal passage and that no such phenomenon exists. In the first half of the paper the premises of the argument are discussed in more detail than before. In the second half responses are given to several possible objections, none of which were addressed in the earlier (...) paper. There is also some discussion of some related epistemic arguments against the passage of time given by Huw Price and David Braddon-Mitchell along with objections raised against them recently by Tim Maudlin and Peter Forrest respectively. (shrink)
J. McTaggart argues that the philosophical conception of time is constituted by the notions of fluid and static time. Since, on his view, neither notion is philosophically viable, he concludes that time is nothing but an illusion that arises from our distorted perception of essentially atemporal reality. In the paper, I argue that despite McTaggart’s failure to prove the unreality of time as such, he does succeed in establishing his lesser claim that the concept of fluid (...)time is without any ontological import whatsoever. (shrink)
John Ellis McTaggart defended an idealistic view of time in the tradition of Hegel and Bradley. His famous paper makes two independent claims (McTaggart1908): First, time is a complex conception with two different logical roots. Second, time is unreal. To reject the second claim seems to commit to the first one, i.e., to a pluralistic account of time. We compare McTaggarts views to the most important concepts of time investigated in physics, neurobiology, and philosophical phenomenology. (...) They indicate that a unique, reductionist account of time is far from being plausible, even though too many conceptions of time may seem unsatisfactory from an ontological point of view. (shrink)
There are several intertwined debates in the area of contemporary philos- ophy of time. One field of inquiry is the nature of time itself. Presentists think that only the present moment exists whereas eternalists believe that all of (space-)time exists on a par. The second main field of inquiry is the question of how objects persist through time. The endurantist claims that objects are three-dimensional wholes, which persist by being wholly1 present, whereas the perdurantist thinks that (...) objects are four- dimensional and that their temporal parts are the bearers of properties. The third debate in the field of contemporary philosophy of time is about tense- versus tenseless theory. Tensers are at odds with detensers about the status of the linguistic reference to the present moment. These are only very crude characterizations and it is even disputed by some ad- vocates of the corresponding positions that they are accurate. However this very sketchy picture already reveals a fundamental difference: The eternalism/presentism and endurance/perdurance discussions belong to the field of metaphysics, whereas tense is in the first instance a linguistic phenomenon. (shrink)
Carlo Rovelli’s new book covers a plethora of different perspectives on time. Included are scientific, philosophical, mundane, historical and cultural viewpoints. The Order of Time is written in an enthusiastic, lively manner. Rovelli wrote the original version in Italian, and it was translated to English by Simon Carnell and Erica Segre.
McTaggart’s theory of time is the locus classicus of the contemporary philosophy of time. However, despite its prominence, there is little agreement as to what the theory actually amounts. In this paper, it is first argued that, contrary to the received opinion, McTaggart’s A-time/B-time distinction is not a distinction between static and fluid temporal series. Rather, it is a certain distinction between two types of static temporal series. It is then shown that in his temporal transience (...) paradox, McTaggart employs these two distinct notions of temporal series. The paper is concluded with the claim that McTaggart's temporal transience paradox is best understood not as a contradiction, but as a dilemma both horns of which are unsatisfactory. (shrink)
Schulman (Entropy 7(4):221–233, 2005) has argued that Boltzmann’s intuition, that the psychological arrow of time is necessarily aligned with the thermodynamic arrow, is correct. Schulman gives an explicit physical mechanism for this connection, based on the brain being representable as a computer, together with certain thermodynamic properties of computational processes. Hawking (Physical Origins of Time Asymmetry, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1994) presents similar, if briefer, arguments. The purpose of this paper is to critically examine the support for the (...) link between thermodynamics and an arrow of time for computers. The principal arguments put forward by Schulman and Hawking will be shown to fail. It will be shown that any computational process that can take place in an entropy increasing universe, can equally take place in an entropy decreasing universe. This conclusion does not automatically imply a psychological arrow can run counter to the thermodynamic arrow. Some alternative possible explanations for the alignment of the two arrows will be briefly discussed. (shrink)
Arno Bohm and Ilya Prigogine's Brussels-Austin Group have been working on the quantum mechanical arrow of time and irreversibility in rigged Hilbert space quantum mechanics. A crucial notion in Bohm's approach is the so-called preparation/registration arrow. An analysis of this arrow and its role in Bohm's theory of scattering is given. Similarly, the Brussels-Austin Group uses an excitation/de-excitation arrow for ordering events, which is also analyzed. The relationship between the two approaches is discussed focusing on their semi-group operators and (...)time arrows. Finally a possible realist interpretation of the rigged Hilbert space formulation of quantum mechanics is considered. (shrink)
The recent surge of interest in the origin of the temporal asymmetry of thermodynamical systems (including the accessible part of the universe itself) has put forward two possible explanatory approaches to this age-old problem. Hereby we show that there is a third possible alternative, based on the generalization of the classical (“Boltzmann–Schuetz”) anthropic fluctuation picture of the origin of the perceived entropy gradient. This alternative (which we dub the Acausal-Anthropic approach) is based on accepting Boltzmann's statistical measure at its face (...) value, and accomodating it within the quantum cosmological concept of the multiverse. We argue that conventional objections raised against the Boltzmann–Schuetz view are less forceful and serious than it is usually assumed. A fortiori, they are incapable of rendering the generalized theory untenable. On the contrary, this analysis highlights some of the other advantages of the multiverse approach to the thermodynamical arrow of time. (shrink)
In this paper I explain why philosophers have thought that the primary feature of our experience of time is that it is tensed and transitory, offer some reasons to doubt that time appears to us primarily in that way, and suggest instead that the main component of our experience of a temporal reality is of enduring objects in flux.
The aim of this paper is to analyze time-asymmetric quantum mechanics with respect of its validity as a non time-reversal invariant, time-asymmetric theory as well as of its ability to determine an arrow of time.
An increasing number of experiments at the Belle, BNL, CERN, DAΦNE and SLAC accelerators are confirming the violation of time reversal invariance (T). The violation signifies a fundamental asymmetry between the past and future and calls for a major shift in the way we think about time. Here we show that processes which violate T symmetry induce destructive interference between different paths that the universe can take through time. The interference eliminates all paths except for two that (...) represent continuously forwards and continuously backwards time evolution. Evidence from the accelerator experiments indicates which path the universe is effectively following. This work may provide fresh insight into the long-standing problem of modeling the dynamics of T violation processes. It suggests that T violation has previously unknown, large-scale physical effects and that these effects underlie the origin of the unidirectionality of time. It may have implications for the Wheeler-DeWitt equation of canonical quantum gravity. Finally it provides a view of the quantum nature of time itself. (shrink)
It is widely assumed that time appears to be tensed, i.e. divided into a future, present and past, and transitory, i.e. involving some kind of ‘flow’ or ‘passage’ of times or events from the future into the present and away into the distant past. In this paper I provide some reasons to doubt that time appears to be tensed and transitory, or at least that philosophers who have suggested that time appears to be that way have included (...) in ‘appearance’ everything that falls under the broad term ‘cognition’, i.e. mental processes of all kinds, including perceiving, remembering, imagining, and thinking. I argue that the tensed and transitory aspect of our experience of temporal reality is, firstly, subordinate to our experience of a world of persistent objects, secondly, in conflict with a popular conception of the nature of persistent material objects, and finally, that it is an aspect of how we think about temporal reality rather than how we actually experience it. I support the last contention by a comparison with our experience of spatiality, which arguably has three distinguishable components: (i) ‘pure input perception’, (ii) ‘perceptual experience modulated by top down cognitive processes’, and (iii) a ‘pure representation of space’. For space, the modulation of our perception of space at any given moment is highly influenced by our pure representation of space, but it is not clear to me that our modulated experience of space is influenced by a pure representation of time. Rather, the modulated experience of temporality, to my mind, is much more clearly an experience of continuous existence of the persisting objects that make up the world. (shrink)
The nature of time is perceived by intellectuals variedly. An attempt is made in this paper to reconcile such varied views in the light of the Upanishads and related Indian spiritual and philosophical texts. The complex analysis of modern mathematics is used to represent the nature and presentation physical and psychological times so differentiated. Also the relation between time and energy is probed using uncertainty relations, forms of energy and phases of matter.
The received view on the problem of the direction of time holds it that time has no intrinsic dynamical properties, and that its apparent asymmetry, to be understood in purely topological terms, is dependent on the directional properties of physical processes. In this paper we shall challenge both claims, in the light of an algebraic representation of time. First, we will show how to give a precise formulation to the intuitive idea that time possesses an intrinsic (...) dynamics; this formulation relies on the fact that the algebraic properties of time can equivalently be understood in dynamical terms. Second, we shall argue that the directional properties displayed by the processes occurring in time depend on the directional properties of time, rather than the converse. (shrink)
It sometimes happens that advances in one area of philosophy can be applied to a quite different area of philosophy, and that the result is an unexpected significant advance. I think that this is true of the philosophy of time and meta-ethics. Developments in the philosophy of time have led to a new understanding of the relation between semantics and metaphysics. Applying these insights to the field of meta-ethics, I will argue, can suggest a new position with respect (...) to moral discourse and moral reality. This new position retains the advantages of theories like moral realism and naturalism, yet is immune to many of their difficulties. (shrink)
The perplexing nature of time has been more contemplated, speculated, written, and debated about over the ages than virtually any other subject, with the possible exception of religion. Yet time seems more elusive than the vast majority of other metaphysical concepts. Time remains mysterious, for we lack an understanding of time at a basic physical level. Concepts of time in theories of modern physics and time as found in contemporary western analytic philosophy are discussed.
All the attempts to find the justification of the privileged evolution of phenomena exclusively in the external world need to refer to the inescapable fact that we are living in such an asymmetric universe. This leads us to look for the origin of the “arrow of time” in the relationship between the subject and the world. The anthropic argument shows that the arrow of time is the condition of the possibility of emergence and maintenance of life in the (...) universe. Moreover, according to Bohr’s, Poincaré’s and Watanabe’s analysis, this agreement between the earlier-later direction of entropy increase and the past-future direction of life is the very condition of the possibility for meaningful action, representation and creation. Beyond this relationship of logical necessity between the meaning process and the arrow of time the question of their possible physical connection is explored. To answer affirmatively to this question, the meaning process is modelled as an evolving tree-like structure, called “Semantic Time”, where thermodynamic irreversibility can be shown. (shrink)
A conclusion drawn after a conference devoted (in 1995) to the “arrow of time” was the following: “Indeed, it seems not a very great exaggeration to say that the main problem with “the problem of the direction of time” is to figure out exactly what the problem is supposed to be !” What does that mean? That more than 130 years after the work of Ludwig Boltzmann on the interpretation of irreversibility of physical phenomena, and that one century (...) after Einstein’s formulation of Special Relativity, we are still not sure what we mean when we talk of “time” or “arrow of time”. We shall try to show that one source of this difficulty is our tendency to confuse, at least verbally, time and becoming, i.e. the course of time and the arrow of time, two concepts that the formalisms of modern physics are careful to distinguish. (shrink)
The paper, drawing on articles by J. M. E. McTaggart, G. E. Moore, D. Davidson, J. L. Austin, B. Russell, A. J. Ayer and G. E. M. Anscombe, argues that the philosophy of language in the analytic tradition has developed an “inchoative“ view of time, and history is a problem as regards the existence of events in the past and how these events can be known. An alternative view is hinted at through the work of L. Wittgenstein and S. (...) Cavell. (shrink)
By examining the propositions “waiting for the proper time to act”, “keeping up with the time”, “accommodating oneself to timeliness”, and “the meaning of a timely mean”, this paper examines the relationship between the idea of time conceived of in Yizhuan 易传 (Commentaries to the Book of Changes ), Zuozhuan 左传 (Annals of Spring and Autumn with Zuo Qiuming’s Commentaries) and Guoyu 国语 (Comments on State Affairs) as well as the related thoughts of Confucianism, Daoism and the (...) Yin-Yang School. It holds that on the foundation established by its predecessors, Yizhuan elevated time to its own category and made the first steps in establishing a theoretical system for time, making an important contribution to the enrichment and deepening of philosophical thought in the pre-Qin period. (shrink)
The problem of the direction of time is reconsidered in the light of a generalized version of the theory of abstract deterministic dynamical systems, thanks to which the mathematical model of time can be provided with an internal dynamics, solely depending on its algebraic structure. This result calls for a reinterpretation of the directional properties of physical time, which have been typically understood in a strictly topological sense, as well as for a reexamination of the theoretical meaning (...) of the widespread time-reversal invariance of classical physical processes. (shrink)
This article analyses the concept of “the loss of time” in the essays of Mircea Eliade. This concept is shown to be an instrument of knowledge and a form of freedom that saves the human being from falling into historicity, and opens a point of access towards authenticity. The article critically discusses the temporal alternatives of the modern human being: capitalized time, free time, and personal time. The loss of time is subsequently shown to be (...) both a technique for obtaining salvation, and a domination technique de- scribed in scientific works. Finally, the invitation of losing time is seen as a re-activation of an a priori structure that makes possible the “humanitarian engagement” of Eliade in order to re-actualize the sacred at the conscious level of the modern human being, as well as an attempt at revalorization of parusia for the religious Christian. (shrink)
In his vigorous defense of the reality of time, Capek champions a tradition of process philosophy that includes such figures as Bergson, James, and Whitehead, against both philosophers and physicists that subordinate time to some lower status in reality or regard it as a peculiar dimension of space. This is, in fact, the point of his last essay in this volume, "Time-Space Rather than Space-Time," where he argues, contrary to standard interpretations, that relativity physics does not (...) necessitate a frozen "block universe" that includes preexisting future events. (shrink)
In this chapter I argue that there can be no mental representation of objective ‘tensed’ features of reality of the kind that might be thought to occur when we experience time passing or think of times as past, present or future, whether or not such features are part of mind-independent reality. This, I hold, has important consequences for metaphysics; but (as will be most relevant to this volume) it is also likely to have important consequences for a correct semantics (...) for tense. In a nutshell, no correct semantics for tense can treat what philosophers call ‘A-properties’ (such as real pastness, presentness or futurity) as semantic values. (shrink)