The cyclical theory f time, which is better known under the name of the 'theory of eternal recurrence,' is usually associated with certain ancient thinkers--in particular, Pythagoreans and Stoics. The most famous among those who have tried to revive the theory in the modern era is unquestionably Friedrich Nietzsche. It is less well known that the theory was defended also by C.S. Peirce and, as late as 1927, by the French historian of science, Abel Rey. The contemporary discussion of the (...) problem of the direction of time has a direct bearing on the problem of eternal recurrence. The primary purpose of this paper is to evaluate critically the theory itself and then to show how this critical analysis can be applied to Peirce's own version of this theory. (shrink)
The article surveys the development of james' views on the status of the psychological subject (self); the uncertainties and hesitations in james' views are pointed out. But, Contrary to the prevailing view, Upheld especially by john dewey and ralph b perry, James' article "does consciousness exist?" in 1904 does not represent the final stage of his thought. This can be found only in his last book "a pluralistic universe" six years later in which the existence of the "full self" is (...) reasserted. James reached this conclusion after the period of intense intellectual struggle which can be traced in the private notes and drafts published by r b perry. The idea of dynamic self was consonant with the process philosophy which james finally adopted. (shrink)
The term “fallacy of simple location” was coined by A. N. Whitehead in 1925 in his book Science and the Modern World; the two passages of the book that deal with this problem are worth being quoted in full and may serve as an introduction into our topic.
The merging of space and time proposed by Minkowski in 1908 is still sometimes misinterpreted as a sort of four-dimensional hyperspace of which time is the fourth dimension, analogous to the other, spatial dimensions. An inevitable consequence of this view is that the future events somehow exist prior to, and independently of, human awareness and that what we call “becoming” is “merely a coming into our awareness” (A. Grünbaum). However, an attentive inspection of the space-time diagram and of Minkowski's formula (...) for the constancy of the world interval shows that the events contained in the absolute future of any frame of reference areintrinsically unobservable not only within this system, but also by any other conceivable observer: consequently, there is no reason to postulate their existence. (shrink)
It is true that there were some important dissenting voices among physicists as well as among philosophers. Paul Langevin was one of the first who protested against calling time "the fourth dimension of space. Einstein himself admitted that the asymmetry of time is preserved even in its relativistic fusion with space when he recognized that "we cannot send wire-messages into the past." When Meyerson in the session of the French Philosophical Society of April 6, 1922 insisted on the distinction of (...) space and time even in the theory of relativity, Einstein, who attended the session, explicitly agreed. Meyerson's argument was fully developed in his book, La Déduction Relativiste, and Einstein in his highly favorable comment about it again praised Meyerson's criticism of the spatialization of time. According to Einstein, the spatialization of time is a misinterpretation of the theory of relativity, a misinterpretation committed not only by popularizers, but even by many scientists, though it is often present in their minds only implicitly. Hermann Weyl, when he was in a less Kantian mood of thought, warned against a facile confusion of space and time when he claimed that it is more accurate to speak about the 3 + 1-dimensional continuum instead of the four-dimensional entity. In the same decade, Eddington among the physicists and Whitehead, Bergson and Reichenbach among the philosophers issued similar warnings. (shrink)
Our instinctive tendency is to believe that the relations of succession can be adequately symbolized by geometrical relations. The persistence of this belief has had disastrous influence through the centuries on philosophical and theological thought, and upon physical theories as well.
IT IS fairly well known that the problem of motion or, more generally, that of change is one of the oldest philosophical problems which can be traced to the very dawn of Western thought. It was inseparable from the basic problem which the Presocratics faced: that of the primary stuff underlying the phenomenal diversity of our sensory experience. Once the sensory diversity is viewed as merely apparent, one cannot avoid the question how such an appearance is generated by the underlying (...) single principle; in other words, one faces the problem of the origin of things, i.e., the problem of change. Hence the monism which in various forms underlies the majority of the early cosmogonic or protocosmogonic speculations. But already then three different theses are discernible: a) one rather extreme view which upholds rigorously the strict oneness of the underlying substance and from its immutability infers the impossibility of change; this was the view of Parmenides and his disciples; b) the second view which, while retaining the Eleatic principle of the singleness and immutability of the basic stuff, admits its existence in a plural form. This is atomism which reduces change to a change of position. In other words, diversity is retained only in the form of numerical diversity, and change only in the form of spatial displacement. All apparently qualitative changes are thus explainable in terms of combination and recombination of the homogeneous and immutable elements. Such are the basic premises not only of ancient Greek atomism, but very nearly of all forms of atomism in all different periods of history. Its basic inspiration has always remained Eleatic, although a very important concession has been made to sensory perception in the sense that the reality of change has been admitted. But it is admitted in its most innocuous form—in the form of displacement of the unchanging units of Being. (shrink)
We shall realize better the strength of the general human belief in the idea of necessary connection, if we remember that it is as old as human speculative thought itself. We find it at the very dawn of Western thought, stated explicitly and unambiguously by Democritus: "By necessity are foreordained all things that were and are and are to come." Twenty-two centuries later Laplace in the famous and frequently quoted passage of his Théorie analytique de la probabilité expressed the same (...) strictly deterministic view based on essentially the same corpuscular-kinetic conception of the universe as that of Democritus. (shrink)
In his Concept of Nature Whitehead gives the following definition of the term “co-presence”: I call two event-particles which on some or other system of measurement are in the same instantaneous space ‘co-present’ event-particles. Then it is possible that A and B may be co-present, and that A and C may be co-present, but that B and C may not be co-present. For example, at some inconceivable distance from us there are events co-present with us now and also co-present with (...) the birth of Queen Victoria. If A and B are co-present there will be some systems in which A precedes B and some in which B precedes A. Also there can be no velocity quick enough to carry a material particle from A to B or from B to A. (shrink)