This paper is a brief (and hopelessly incomplete) non-standard introduction to the philosophy of space and time. It is an introduction because I plan to give an overview of what I consider some of the main questions about space and time: Is space a substance over and above matter? How many dimensions does it have? Is space-time fundamental or emergent? Does time have a direction? Does time even exist? Nonetheless, this introduction is not standard because (...) I conclude the discussion by presenting the material with an original spin, guided by a particular understanding of fundamental physical theories, the so-called primitive ontology approach. (shrink)
In a dynamic world, mechanisms allowing prediction of future situations can provide a selective advantage. We suggest that memory systems differ in the degree of flexibility they offer for anticipatory behavior and put forward a corresponding taxonomy of prospection. The adaptive advantage of any memory system can only lie in what it contributes for future survival. The most flexible is episodic memory, which we suggest is part of a more general faculty of mental time travel that allows us not (...) only to go back in time, but also to foresee, plan, and shape virtually any specific future event. We review comparative studies and find that, in spite of increased research in the area, there is as yet no convincing evidence for mental time travel in nonhuman animals. We submit that mental time travel is not an encapsulated cognitive system, but instead comprises several subsidiary mechanisms. A theater metaphor serves as an analogy for the kind of mechanisms required for effective mental time travel. We propose that future research should consider these mechanisms in addition to direct evidence of future-directed action. We maintain that the emergence of mental time travel in evolution was a crucial step towards our current success. (shrink)
This paper is an enquiry into the logical, metaphysical, and physical possibility of time travel understood in the sense of the existence of closed worldlines that can be traced out by physical objects. We argue that none of the purported paradoxes rule out time travel either on grounds of logic or metaphysics. More relevantly, modern spacetime theories such as general relativity seem to permit models that feature closed worldlines. We discuss, in the context of Gödel's infamous argument for (...) the ideality of time based on his eponymous spacetime, what this apparent physical possibility of time travel means. Furthermore, we review the recent literature on so-called time machines, i.e., of devices that produce closed worldlines where none would have existed otherwise. Finally, we investigate what the implications of the quantum behaviour of matter for the possibility of time travel might be and explicate in what sense time travel might be possible according to leading contenders for full quantum theories of gravity such as string theory and loop quantum gravity. (shrink)
In a quantum universe with a strong arrow of time, it is standard to postulate that the initial wave function started in a particular macrostate---the special low-entropy macrostate selected by the Past Hypothesis. Moreover, there is an additional postulate about statistical mechanical probabilities according to which the initial wave function is a ''typical'' choice in the macrostate. Together, they support a probabilistic version of the Second Law of Thermodynamics: typical initial wave functions will increase in entropy. Hence, there are (...) two sources of randomness in such a universe: the quantum-mechanical probabilities of the Born rule and the statistical mechanical probabilities of the Statistical Postulate. I propose a new way to understand time's arrow in a quantum universe. It is based on what I call the Thermodynamic Theories of Quantum Mechanics. According to this perspective, there is a natural choice for the initial quantum state of the universe, which is given by not a wave function but by a density matrix. The density matrix plays a microscopic role: it appears in the fundamental dynamical equations of those theories. The density matrix also plays a macroscopic / thermodynamic role: it is exactly the projection operator onto the Past Hypothesis subspace. Thus, given an initial subspace, we obtain a unique choice of the initial density matrix. I call this property "the conditional uniqueness" of the initial quantum state. The conditional uniqueness provides a new and general strategy to eliminate statistical mechanical probabilities in the fundamental physical theories, by which we can reduce the two sources of randomness to only the quantum mechanical one. I also explore the idea of an absolutely unique initial quantum state, in a way that might realize Penrose's idea of a strongly deterministic universe. (shrink)
Both Martin Heidegger and Harry Frankfurt have argued that the fundamental feature of human identity is care. Both contend that caring is bound up with the fact that we are finite beings related to our own impending death, and both argue that caring has a distinctive, circular and non-instantaneous, temporal structure. In this paper, I explore the way Heidegger and Frankfurt each understand the relations among care, death, and time, and I argue for the superiority of Heideggerian version of (...) this nest of claims. Frankfurt claims that we should conceive of the most basic commitments which practically orient a person in the world and define his identity (“volitional necessities”) as naturalistic facts, foundational for and located completely without the normative space of reasons. In support of this he appeals to the supposedly foundational role played in human life by the instinct for self-preservation, what Frankfurt calls the “love of living.” The claim is that in questions of practical identity there is a definite priority of the factual over the normative. Frankfurt’s naturalistic model of volitional necessity is motivated by a misunderstanding of the temporal structure of care, a misunderstanding that helps lead him to an implausible conception of the basic structures of human identity. Heidegger advances an anti-naturalistic conception of caring, one bound up with his way of understanding how human beings relate to their own future. I argue that the existential, temporal, and normative significance that Frankfurt attributes to the naturalized “love of living” is better captured by the Heideggerian claim that human identity is defined by being “for-the-sake-of” certain projects and commitments, a way of being lived out in the way Heidegger calls “being-towards-death.”. (shrink)
I distinguish paradoxes and hypodoxes among the conundrums of time travel. I introduce ‘hypodoxes’ as a term for seemingly consistent conundrums that seem to be related to various paradoxes, as the Truth-teller is related to the Liar. In this article, I briefly compare paradoxes and hypodoxes of time travel with Liar paradoxes and Truth-teller hypodoxes. I also discuss Lewis’ treatment of time travel paradoxes, which I characterise as a Laissez Faire theory of time travel. Time (...) travel paradoxes are impossible according to Laissez Faire theories, while it seems hypodoxes are possible. (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)
In this chapter we argue that our concept of time is a functional concept. We argue that our concept of time is such that time is whatever it is that plays the time role, and we spell out what we take the time role to consist in. We evaluate this proposal against a number of other analyses of our concept of time, and argue that it better explains various features of our dispositions as speakers (...) and our practices as agents. (shrink)
Continuists maintain that, aside from their distinct temporal orientations, episodic memory and future-oriented mental time travel (FMTT) are qualitatively continuous. Discontinuists deny this, arguing that, in addition to their distinct temporal orientations, there are qualitative metaphysical or epistemological differences between episodic memory and FMTT. This chapter defends continuism by responding both to arguments for metaphysical discontinuism, based on alleged discontinuities between episodic memory and FMTT at the causal, intentional, and phenomenological levels, and to arguments for epistemological discontinuism, based on (...) alleged discontinuities with respect to the epistemic openness of the past and future, the directness or indirectness of our knowledge of past and future, and immunity to error through misidentification. The chapter concludes by sketching a positive argument for continuism. (shrink)
This is a short, nontechnical introduction to features of time in classical and relativistic physics and their representation in the four-dimensional geometry of spacetime. Topics discussed include: the relativity of simultaneity in special and general relativity; the ‘twin paradox’ and differential aging effects in special and general relativity; and time travel in general relativity.
In this chapter we examine the tendency to view future-oriented mental time travel as a unitary faculty that, despite task-driven surface variation, ultimately reduces to a common phenomenological state. We review evidence that FMTT is neither unitary nor beholden to episodic memory: Rather, it is varied both in its memorial underpinnings and experiential realization. We conclude that the phenomenological diversity characterizing FMTT is dependent not on the type of memory activated during task performance, but on the kind of subjective (...) temporality associated with the memory in play. (shrink)
When Newton articulated the concept of absolute time in his treatise, Philosophae Naturalis Principia Mathematica (Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy), along with its correlate, absolute space, he did not present it as anything controversial. Whereas his references to attraction are accompanied by the self- protective caveats that typically signal an expectation of censure, the Scholium following Principia’s definitions is free of such remarks, instead elaborating his ideas as clarifications of concepts that, in some manner, we already possess. This is (...) not surprising. The germ of the concept emerged naturally from astronomers’ findings, and variants of it had already been formulated by other seventeenth century thinkers. Thus the novelty of Newton’s absolute time lay mainly in the use to which he put it. (shrink)
Or better: time asymmetry in thermodynamics. Better still: time asymmetry in thermodynamic phenomena. “Time in thermodynamics” misleadingly suggests that thermodynamics will tell us about the fundamental nature of time. But we don’t think that thermodynamics is a fundamental theory. It is a theory of macroscopic behavior, often called a “phenomenological science.” And to the extent that physics can tell us about the fundamental features of the world, including such things as the nature of time, we (...) generally think that only fundamental physics can. On its own, a science like thermodynamics won’t be able to tell us about time per se. But the theory will have much to say about everyday processes that occur in time; and in particular, the apparent asymmetry of those processes. The pressing question of time in the context of thermodynamics is about the asymmetry of things in time, not the asymmetry of time, to paraphrase Price ( , ). I use the title anyway, to underscore what is, to my mind, the centrality of thermodynamics to any discussion of the nature of time and our experience in it. The two issues—the temporal features of processes in time, and the intrinsic structure of time itself—are related. Indeed, it is in part this relation that makes the question of time asymmetry in thermodynamics so interesting. This, plus the fact that thermodynamics describes a surprisingly wide range of our ordinary experience. We’ll return to this. First, we need to get the question of time asymmetry in thermodynamics out on the table. (shrink)
This paper outlines some key issues that arise when agency and temporality are considered jointly, from the perspective of psychology, cognitive neuroscience, phenomenology, and action theory. I address the difference between time simpliciter and time as represented as it figures in phenomena like intentional binding, goal-oriented action plans, emulation systems, and ‘temporal agency’. An examination of Husserl’s account of time consciousness highlights difficulties in generalizing his account to include a substantive notion of agency, a weakness inherited by (...) explanatory projects like neurophenomenology. I conclude by sketching a project analogous to the projects in neurophenomenology, based on Thompson’s naïve action theory. (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 introductory chapter reviews research on future-oriented mental time travel to date (the past), provides an overview of the contents of the book (the present), and enumerates some possible research directions suggested by the latter (the future).
McTaggart famously argued that time is unreal. Today, almost no one agrees with his conclusion. But his argument remains the locus classicus for both the A-theory and the B-theory of time. I show how McTaggart’s argument provided the impetus for both of these opposing views of the nature of time. I also present and defend what I take to be the correct view of the nature of time.
Michael Tooley presents a major new philosophical theory of the nature of time, offering a powerful alternative to the traditional "tensed" and recent "tenseless" accounts of time. He argues for a dynamic conception of the universe, in which past, present, and future are not merely subjective features of experience. He claims that the past and the present are real, while the future is not. Tooley's approach accounts for time in terms of causation. He therefore claims that the (...) key to understanding the dynamic nature of the universe is to understand the nature of causation. Time, Tense, and Causation is a landmark treatment of one of the oldest and most perplexing intellectual problems, and will be fascinating reading for anyone interested in the character of time. (shrink)
Thinking about time travel is an entertaining way to explore how to understand time and its location in the broad conceptual landscape that includes causation, fate, action, possibility, experience, and reality. It is uncontroversial that time travel towards the future exists, and time travel to the past is generally recognized as permitted by Einstein’s general theory of relativity, though no one knows yet whether nature truly allows it. Coherent time travel stories have added flair to (...) traditional debates over the metaphysical status of the past, the reality of temporal passage, and the existence of free will. Moreover, plausible models of time travel and time machines can be used to investigate the subtle relation between space-time structure and causality. -/- It surveys some philosophical issues concerning time travel and should serves as a quick introduction. It includes a new and improved way to define a time machine. (shrink)
This essay aims to provide a self-contained introduction to time in relativistic cosmology that clarifies both how questions about the nature of time should be posed in this setting and the extent to which they have been or can be answered empirically. The first section below recounts the loss of Newtonian absolute time with the advent of special and general relativity, and the partial recovery of absolute time in the form of cosmic time in some (...) cosmological models. Section II considers the beginning and end of time in a broader class of models in which there is not an analog of Newtonian absolute time. As we will see, reasonable physical assumptions imply that the universe is finite to the past, and Section III turns to consideration of the “beginning” itself. We critically review conventional wisdom that a “singularity” reveals flaws in general relativity and briefly assess ways of avoiding the singularity. (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)
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)
The Importance of Time is a unique work that reveals the central role of the philosophy of time in major areas of philosophy. The first part of the book consists of symposia on two of the most important works in the philosophy of time over the past decade: Michael Tooley's Time, Tense, and Causation and D.H. Mellor's Real Time II. What characterizes these essays, and those that follow, are the interchanges between original papers, with original (...) responses to them by commentators. The wide range of interrelated topics covered in this book is one of its most distinctive features. The book is divided into six parts: I. Book Symposia, II. Temporal Becoming, III. The Phenomenology of Time, IV. God, Time and Foreknowledge, V. Time and Physical Objects, and VI. Time and Causation, and contains 24 essays by leading philosophers in the various areas: Laurie Paul, Quentin Smith, L. Nathan Oaklander, Hugh Mellor, John Perry, William Lane Craig, Brian Leftow, Ned Markosian, Ronald C. Hoy, Michael Tooley, Storrs McCall, David Hunt, Mark Hinchliff, Robin Le Poidevin, Iain Martel and Eric M. Rubenstein. (shrink)
On Heidegger's Being and Time is an outstanding exploration of Heidegger's most important work by two major philosophers. Simon Critchley argues that we must see Being and Time as a radicalization of Husserl's phenomenology, particularly his theories of intentionality, categorial intuition, and the phenomenological concept of the a priori. This leads to a reappraisal and defense of Heidegger's conception of phenomenology. In contrast, Reiner Schürmann urges us to read Heidegger 'backward', arguing that his later work is the key (...) to unravelling Being and Time . Through a close reading of Being and Time Schürmann demonstrates that this work is ultimately aporetic because the notion of Being elaborated in his later work is already at play within it. This is the first time that Schürmann's renowned lectures on Heidegger have been published. The book concludes with Critchley's reinterpretation of the importance of authenticity in Being and Time . Arguing for what he calls an 'originary inauthenticity', Critchley proposes a relational understanding of the key concepts of the second part of Being and Time : death, conscience and temporality. (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.
This chapter approaches the hierarchical theory of time from a philosophical point of view. It is based on a critical reading of Fraser's work through Neo-Kantian eyes. The chapter reflects upon the methodological constraints that apply to a natural philosophy of time. At the same time, it attempts to resolve some tensions between this theory's content and its epistemological and ontological foundations as stated by Fraser himself. The chapter begins with a discussion on the essential characteristics of (...) the Neo-Kantian point of view. Next, it enumerates the main points of contention between Fraser's and the Neo-Kantian point of view, but also the logical tensions inherent in Fraser's position. This is followed by a critical review of Fraser's "working concept" of truth and of the extended umwelt principle. Some consequences for the hierarchical theory of time are proposed. (shrink)
In this paper, I propose that time representation should be classified as agent dependent motor-intentional, agent dependent conceptual and agent independent conceptual. I employ this classification to explain certain features of psychological and cultural time and discuss how biological time constrains such features. The paper argues that motor-intentional time is a crucial psychophysical link that bridges the gap between purely biochemical cycles and conceptual-intentional representations of time, and proposes that the best way to understand the (...) transitions from biological to psychological time is to characterize them as phase transitions that emerge on the global properties of a system regardless of specific aspects of the underlying processing units. With respect to hierarchical models of time, the paper claims that although the hierarchical organization of constraints limits the number of possible instantiations of temporal information, informational phases have principles of organization of their own. Based on these proposals, I conclude that since information assembles itself into the temporal behavior of an agent, it is more accurate to call the principles governing such a behavioral unity a phase, rather than a hierarchy. To support these theses, the paper draws upon research in biology, neuroscience, philosophy and psychology. (shrink)
Why is the future so different from the past? Why does the past affect the future and not the other way round? The universe began with the Big Bang - will it end with a `Big Crunch'? Now in paperback, this book presents an innovative and controversial view of time and contemporary physics. Price urges physicists, philosophers, and anyone who has ever pondered the paradoxes of time to look at the world from a fresh perspective, and throws fascinating (...) new light on some of the great mysteries of the universe. (shrink)
Real Time II extends and evolves D.H. Mellor's classic exploration of the philosophy of time, Real Time . This wholly new book answers such basic metaphysical questions about time as: how do past, present and future differ, how are time and space related, what is change, is time travel possible? His Real Time dominated the philosophy of time for fifteen years. This book will do the same for the next twenty years.
Among the most important questions in the metaphysics of science are "What are the natures of fundamental laws and chances?" and "What grounds the direction of time?" My aim in this paper is to examine some connections between these questions, discuss two approaches to answering them and argue in favor of one. Along the way I will raise and comment on a number of issues concerning the relationship between physics and metaphysics and consequences for the subject matter and methodology (...) of metaphysics. (shrink)
This is a study of the nature of time. In it, redeploying an argument first presented by McTaggart, the author argues that although time itself is real, tense is not. He accounts for the appearance of the reality of tense - our sense of the passage of time, and the fact that our experience occurs in the present - by showing how time is indispensable as a condition of action. Time itself is further analysed, and (...) Dr Mellor gives answers to most of the metaphysical questions it provokes, concerning the relation of time to space, the dissection of time, and its relation to change and causation. (shrink)
On one popular view, the general covariance of gravity implies that change is relational in a strong sense, such that all it is for a physical degree of freedom to change is for it to vary with regard to a second physical degree of freedom. At a quantum level, this view of change as relative variation leads to a fundamentally timeless formalism for quantum gravity. Here, we will show how one may avoid this acute ‘problem of time’. Under our (...) view, duration is still regarded as relative, but temporal succession is taken to be absolute. Following our approach, which is presented in more formal terms in, it is possible to conceive of a genuinely dynamical theory of quantum gravity within which time, in a substantive sense, remains. 1 Introduction1.1 The problem of time1.2 Our solution2 Understanding Symmetry2.1 Mechanics and representation2.2 Freedom by degrees2.3 Voluntary redundancy3 Understanding Time3.1 Change and order3.2 Quantization and succession4 Time and Gravitation4.1 The two faces of classical gravity4.2 Retaining succession in quantum gravity5 Discussion5.1 Related arguments5.2 Concluding remarks. (shrink)
The final work of a distinguished physicist, this remarkable volume examines the emotive significance of time, the time order of mechanics, the time direction of thermodynamics and microstatistics, the time direction of macrostatistics, and the time of quantum physics. Coherent discussions include accounts of analytic methods of scientific philosophy in the investigation of probability, quantum mechanics, the theory of relativity, and causality. "[Reichenbach’s] best by a good deal."—Physics Today. 1971 ed.
Time is woven into the fabric of our lives. Everything we do, we do in and across time. It is not just that our lives are stretched out in time, from the moment of birth to the moment of our death. It is that our lives are stories. We make sense of ourselves, today, by understanding who we were yesterday, and the day before, and the day before that; by understanding what we did and why we did (...) it. Our memories shape our present selves, since we are the product of who we were, and who we remember being. Yet who we are lasts for but a moment. It is who we will be that demands attention. We are forever projecting ourselves into the future. We painstakingly plan for the needs of our future selves, all the while knowing that while what we do will make those future selves who they are, still, our future selves are elusive. So it is not simply that we happen to live our lives in time, the way, say, one might happen to live in Australia, or Singapore. It is hard to fathom how things could be otherwise. What would it be to live a life without time? Yet time itself is intangible. Though we are keenly aware of what has been ‒ of pain and loss, regret and pride ‒ and of what might be ‒ of anticipation, and dread, and longing ‒ time itself seems unaffected by anything we do. Though we can anticipate a future birthday cake, time itself cannot be tasted. Though we can dread a future dentist’s appointment, time itself cannot be touched. Though we remember the crunching of leaves this past autumn, time itself cannot be heard. How can it be that something so central to each of us, to who we are, and what we care about, can be so spectral? What, in the end, is time? Is time real, like a substance in which each of us, like insects in amber, finds ourselves trapped? Is time a dimension through which we can move? Is time not a thing at all, but some connection between events? If time is real, what is it like? Does it flow like a river, taking each of us prisoner in its current, washing us ever closer to the end of our lives? Is time like a cresting wave, coming ever closer to each of us from the future, engulfing us, and then receding into the past? Or is time static? Like a one-way road that each of us might wander, with no chance to turn back? Or perhaps time is like none of these things. Perhaps time is more like space; something we can navigate freely, so that we can visit different times just like we visit different places. Perhaps we can we travel in time the way we can travel in space. These questions, and many more, are the focus of this book. Now, you might wonder what philosophers are doing writing a book about time. Surely that’s a job for physicists! It is true: a great deal of what we know about time stems from our understanding of physics. However, even in physics we find that there are questions about time that go unanswered. Moreover, increasingly, physicists are turning to philosophers for help in understanding the role that time plays in current physical theories. Our goal is to get the reader up to speed on some of the central issues that influence our understanding of time so that they too may play a role in this ongoing discussion between science and philosophy. We hope that in doing so it will become clear what philosophy can bring to the study of time. There is a natural narrative in philosophy regarding the study of time, and we have chosen to organise this book according to that narrative. However, the book may also be approached in a ‘choose-your-own adventure’ spirit. While later chapters build on material introduced in earlier chapters, you can skip around, reading the book in any order you choose. For the instructor, this means that she can design her course around this book in any number of ways, depending on the particular topic she wishes to focus on. (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.
[Time, the fundamental dimension of our existence, has fascinated artists, philosophers, and scientists of every culture and every century. All of us can remember a moment as a child when time became a personal reality, when we realized what a "year" was, or asked ourselves when "now" happened. Common sense says time moves forward, never backward, from cradle to grave. Nevertheless, Einstein said that time is an illusion. Nature's laws, as he and Newton defined them, describe (...) a timeless, deterministic universe within which we can make predictions with complete certainty. In effect, these great physicists contended that time is reversible and thus meaningless. (shrink)
Dirac’s relativistic theory of electron generally results in two possible solutions, one with positive energy and other with negative energy. Although positive energy solutions accurately represented particles such as electrons, interpretation of negative energy solution became very much controversial in the last century. By assuming the vacuum to be completely filled with a sea of negative energy electrons, Dirac tried to avoid natural transition of electron from positive to negative energy state using Pauli’s exclusion principle. However, many scientists like Bohr (...) objected to the idea of sea of electrons as it indicates infinite density of charge and electric field and consequently infinite energy. In addition, till date, there is no experimental evidence of a particle whose total energy (kinetic plus rest) is negative. In an alternative approach, Feynman, in quantum field theory, proposed that particles with negative energy are actually positive energy particles running backwards in time. This was mathematically consistent since quantum mechanical energy operator contains time in denominator and the negative sign of energy can be absorbed in it. However, concept of negative time is logically inconsistent since in this case, effect happens before the cause. To avoid above contradictions, in this paper, we try to reformulate the Dirac’s theory of electron so that neither energy needs to be negative nor the time is required to be negative. Still, in this new formulation, two different possible solutions exist for particles and antiparticles (electrons and positrons). (shrink)
Presenting the history of space-time physics, from Newton to Einstein, as a philosophical development DiSalle reflects our increasing understanding of the connections between ideas of space and time and our physical knowledge. He suggests that philosophy's greatest impact on physics has come about, less by the influence of philosophical hypotheses, than by the philosophical analysis of concepts of space, time and motion, and the roles they play in our assumptions about physical objects and physical measurements. This way (...) of thinking leads to interpretations of the work of Newton and Einstein and the connections between them. It also offers ways of looking at old questions about a priori knowledge, the physical interpretation of mathematics, and the nature of conceptual change. Understanding Space-Time will interest readers in philosophy, history and philosophy of science, and physics, as well as readers interested in the relations between physics and philosophy. (shrink)
Ross P. Cameron argues that the flow of time is a genuine feature of reality. He suggests that the best version of the A-Theory is a version of the Moving Spotlight view, according to which past and future beings are real, but there is nonetheless an objectively privileged present. Cameron argues that the Moving Spotlight theory should be viewed as having more in common with Presentism than with the B-Theory. Furthermore, it provides the best account of truthmakers for claims (...) about what was or will be the case. Cameron goes on to defend an account of the open future, and argues that this is a better account than that available to the Growing Block theory. (shrink)
In this book and the companion volume The Tenseless Theory of Time: A Critical Examination, Craig undertakes the first thorough appraisal of the arguments for and against the tensed and tenseless theories of time.
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 paper defines and defends time-slice epistemology, according to which there are no essentially diachronic norms of rationality. First I motivate and distinguish two notions of time-slice epistemology. Then I defend time-slice theories of action under indeterminacy, i.e. theories about how you should act when the outcome of your decision depends on some indeterminate claim. I raise objections to a theory of action under indeterminacy recently defended by Robbie Williams, and I propose some alternative theories in its (...) place. Throughout this discussion, I defend a more general moral about action under indeterminacy, namely that time-slice theories are supported by strong analogies with ethical theories. In particular, our understanding of agents torn between interpretations of a decision situation should be guided by our theories of agents torn between incommensurable values. (shrink)
Thomas Sattig develops a comprehensive framework for doing philosophy of time, and offers an original three-dimensionalist picture of the material world. He brings together a variety of different perspectives, linking our ordinary conception of time with the physicist's conception, and linking metaphysical questions about time with questions in the philosophy of language.
Evidence that led to the hypothesis of a backwards referral of conscious sensory experiences in time, and the experimental tests of its predictions, is summarized. Criticisms of the data and the conclusion by Churchland that this hypothesis is untenable are analysed and found to be based upon misconceptions and faulty evaluations of facts and theory. Subjective referral in time violates no neurophysiological principles or data and is compatible with the theory of "mental" and "physical" correspondence.
Darwin and feminism: preliminary investigations into a possible alliance -- Darwin and the ontology of life -- The Nature of culture -- Law, justice, and the future -- The Time of violence: Derrida, deconstruction, and value -- Drucilla Cornell, identity, and the "Evolution" of Politics -- Philosophy, knowledge, and the future -- Deleuze, Bergson, and the virtual -- Merleau-Ponty, Bergson, and the question of ontology -- The thing -- Prosthetic objects -- Identity, sexual difference, and the future -- The (...)Time of thought -- The Force of sexual difference -- (Inhuman) forces: power, pleasure, and desire -- The future of female sexuality. (shrink)