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Eternalism and Presentism (Merged)
Posted: 07 May 2011 01:16 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 76 ]
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dougsmith - 07 May 2011 01:08 PM

Well ... I don’t think so. The difference between idealism and solipsism is in the link between minds. If you’re able to establish a link, you have idealism. So far as I know, the only person who’s really been able to make a modest go of that sort of move is Bishop Berkeley, who finagled the link through God. (Certain schools of Buddhism have tried as well, though IMO less successfully than Berkeley, which is saying something).

Otherwise there appears to be no way to make the link. All the person has is here-now appearances. All the rest are, as they say, “logical fictions”, including past, future, left, right, up, down, forward, back.  That includes all the things in those places and times, such as other people. Viz., solipsism.

I can’t help suspecting you’re right Doug.

And yet I know why I resist but we’ve been there before and I’ve nothing new to add.

Stephen

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Posted: 07 May 2011 04:08 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 77 ]
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all we perceive is past
all we do is future.

The Present is a mental construct.

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Posted: 07 May 2011 09:41 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 78 ]
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StephenLawrence - 06 May 2011 09:00 PM

I have no doubt that what it is to influence the future is a very difficult problem. I’ve tried to understand it for years and don’t. Quite likely it’s beyond me but one thing I know is I’m determined to try because it’s so fundamental to the human condition.

Whether there is change in the universe depends on what is the nature of time and causality.

If, fundamentally, the universe is timeless, there is no change…...Parmenides.

Eternalism and Einstein’s theories of relativity wrt to time is Parmenidean.

It time is fundamental in the universe and there is temporal flow, change is inherent in the universe….....Heraclitus.

With presentism (specifically Heraclitean presentism) change is inherent in the universe.

To influence/change the future we need:

1. Time and temporal flow

2. Change is inherent in the universe and further change is possible

3. Causality

4. A causal agent.

Time is fundamental and the direction of temporal flow to preserve causality is necessary in the evolution of the spacetime fabric according to causal dynamical triangulation (CDT).

Causality needs time and temporal flow, i.e. the cause must precede the effect in time.

Thus, with time, temporal flow, change, causality and a causal agent (me):

When I chop down all the trees in my garden, I have influenced/changed/caused the future of my garden without trees.

[ Edited: 07 May 2011 09:44 PM by kkwan ]
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Posted: 07 May 2011 10:20 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 79 ]
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influence and change are not the same.

change and modification require that there be something to change.

influence and effect don’t.

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Posted: 08 May 2011 03:39 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 80 ]
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isaac - 07 May 2011 04:08 PM

all we perceive is past
all we do is future.

The Present is a mental construct.

If the present is a mental construct, try jumping down from a tall building now.

For the presentist, only the present exist and it is real.

Both the past and future do not exist, they are unreal.

The past (as the previous present) no longer exist. We perceive the past only as memories and as records of the past.

The future is yet to be (as the present) thus it is open, undetermined and does not exist. We can only imagine or anticipate what the future will be.

As conscious living beings, humans can only live in and experience the present.

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Posted: 08 May 2011 04:30 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 81 ]
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dougsmith - 07 May 2011 06:05 AM
kkwan - 06 May 2011 09:53 PM

It is? Please show me the experiment.

There are a raft of experiments confirming special and general relativity, of which the relativity of simultaneity is an essential part. You can see a list for general relativity HERE, and of special relativity HERE.

There are no experiments confirming relativistic time and quantum time as synonymous.

Quantum gravity is a hypothesis (= unconfirmed), attempting to give a QM explanation of relativistic phenomena. But any theory of quantum gravity will also have to take into account the raft of experimental confirmation for general relativity. Otherwise it would be a failed theory. That’s to say, on any theory of quantum gravity, the relativity of simultaneity would have to be preserved.

Not quite so. From the wiki on quantum gravity

Quantum gravity (QG) is the field of theoretical physics which attempts to develop scientific models that unify quantum mechanics (describing 3 of the 4 known fundamental interactions) with general relativity (describing the fourth, gravity).

Spacetime background dependence:

A fundamental lesson of general relativity is that there is no fixed spacetime background, as found in Newtonian mechanics and special relativity; the spacetime geometry is dynamic. While easy to grasp in principle, this is the hardest idea to understand about general relativity, and its consequences are profound and not fully explored, even at the classical level. To a certain extent, general relativity can be seen to be a relational theory, in which the only physically relevant information is the relationship between different events in space-time.

On the other hand, quantum mechanics has depended since its inception on a fixed background (non-dynamic) structure. In the case of quantum mechanics, it is time that is given and not dynamic, just as in Newtonian classical mechanics. In relativistic quantum field theory, just as in classical field theory, Minkowski spacetime is the fixed background of the theory.

You wrote:

Sorry, kkwan, you don’t know what you’re talking about. The notion that time is a dimension like space (and that indeed the universe is a universe of spacetime, not space and time, and certainly not just space) is essential to all mainstream contemporary physics.

I know what I am talking about wrt eternalism.  From the wiki on
eternalism

Modern advocates often take inspiration from the way time is modeled as a dimension in the theory of relativity, giving time a similar ontology to that of space (although the basic idea dates back at least to McTaggart’s B-Theory of time, first published in The Unreality of Time in 1908, only 3 years after the first paper on relativity). This would mean that time is just another dimension, that future events are “already there”, and that there is no objective flow of time.

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Posted: 08 May 2011 06:02 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 82 ]
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Sorry, kkwan, I’m not going to respond to irrelevancies, except to point out that they don’t advance the discussion. Quoting material at random isn’t an effective strategy.

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Posted: 08 May 2011 06:44 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 83 ]
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kkwan - 08 May 2011 03:39 AM
isaac - 07 May 2011 04:08 PM

The Present is a mental construct.

If the present is a mental construct, try jumping down from a tall building now.

<snip>

As conscious living beings, humans can only live in and experience the present.

Try restating that, replacing “now” and “the present” with “here”.

Is “here” a mental construct? (No, actually it’s something like an open variable that gets its value from the objective location of the speaker. Just as “now” and “the present” are).

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Posted: 08 May 2011 10:06 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 84 ]
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dougsmith - 08 May 2011 06:44 AM

Is “here” a mental construct? (No, actually it’s something like an open variable that gets its value from the objective location of the speaker. Just as “now” and “the present” are).

The bit I don’t get is the objective location of the speaker.

I’m here in my living room but I don’t know what you mean by this is my objective location, as I’m equally objectively on my bike down the road.

What differentiates these two situations is a subjective illusion, isn’t it?

Stephen

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Posted: 08 May 2011 11:07 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 85 ]
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dougsmith - 08 May 2011 06:44 AM
kkwan - 08 May 2011 03:39 AM
isaac - 07 May 2011 04:08 PM

The Present is a mental construct.

If the present is a mental construct, try jumping down from a tall building now.

<snip>

As conscious living beings, humans can only live in and experience the present.

Try restating that, replacing “now” and “the present” with “here”.

Is “here” a mental construct? (No, actually it’s something like an open variable that gets its value from the objective location of the speaker. Just as “now” and “the present” are).

ok… but the idea that “I” could be said to be “at” in infinitely small “point” in space takes some mental construction, right?

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Posted: 08 May 2011 11:22 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 86 ]
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StephenLawrence - 08 May 2011 10:06 AM

The bit I don’t get is the objective location of the speaker.

I’m here in my living room but I don’t know what you mean by this is my objective location, as I’m equally objectively on my bike down the road.

What differentiates these two situations is a subjective illusion, isn’t it?

Well the index of “now”/“here” is to pick out a particular point on the 4-D space-time worm of the individual. It’s like a person or thing is a line in spacetime with a here/now arrow pointing to a point along that line. In that sense it isn’t an illusion, though it is an illusion to think that all of you is present at that one point.

[ Edited: 08 May 2011 11:26 AM by dougsmith ]
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Posted: 08 May 2011 11:25 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 87 ]
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I’m ok with the idea that an instant might exist “objectively”, but the objective truth about what i experience and what i act in is spread out a little bit across time.

A bit like my body is spread out a bit across space, occupying many points… or maybe that’s more ananlogous to the way that it’s spread out across my whole lifetime.

My body, as i ride down the street, ojectively passes through many points at once.  My consciousness, as it moves through time, objectively occupies, experiences, and interacts with a similarly spread out range of time.  The “now”, from the point of view of experience, is longer than the smallest possible unit of time.

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Posted: 08 May 2011 11:26 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 88 ]
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isaac - 08 May 2011 11:07 AM
dougsmith - 08 May 2011 06:44 AM
kkwan - 08 May 2011 03:39 AM
isaac - 07 May 2011 04:08 PM

The Present is a mental construct.

If the present is a mental construct, try jumping down from a tall building now.

<snip>

As conscious living beings, humans can only live in and experience the present.

Try restating that, replacing “now” and “the present” with “here”.

Is “here” a mental construct? (No, actually it’s something like an open variable that gets its value from the objective location of the speaker. Just as “now” and “the present” are).

ok… but the idea that “I” could be said to be “at” in infinitely small “point” in space takes some mental construction, right?

Well yes, but you don’t need to hold that to be the case to make this work. I mean, “here” could just as well be a vaguely-bounded, human-sized pointer, just as “now” picks out at least what William James termed the “specious present”, if not more. (It depends on the case. In some cases “here” might mean something like “in this room”, or even “on this planet”, and “now” might mean “today” or even “this century”).

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Posted: 08 May 2011 11:35 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 89 ]
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and presumably a presentist would not be ok with “now” meaning “this century”.  But if they narrow it down to “the smallest possible unit”, then they’re not talking about the world that we see or act on, right?

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Posted: 08 May 2011 11:46 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 90 ]
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isaac - 08 May 2011 11:35 AM

and presumably a presentist would not be ok with “now” meaning “this century”.  But if they narrow it down to “the smallest possible unit”, then they’re not talking about the world that we see or act on, right?

Well, I think if presentism is going to be metaphysically true-to-its-roots, then the ‘present’ will have to be strictly dimensionless, it will have to be a single point in time that’s ‘the present’. Note that that isn’t even enough to fit the experienced present, which is a short-ish span of time, encompassing slight change. (Viz., the “specious present” that I mentioned before). This is another grave problem with presentism, that inthegobi was getting at, above.

To put it another way, if “the present” is a dimensionless point, then it can’t encompass change. Then presentism doesn’t even achieve what it claims to set out to do, which is to take seriously our experienced present.

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