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Posted: 21 August 2007 11:20 PM   [ Ignore ]
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Is it possible that there is only this moment, and it is the contents of this moment that keeps changing?

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Posted: 22 August 2007 09:39 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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What do you mean? I thought the only constant was the speed of light…

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Posted: 22 August 2007 09:42 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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What?  We never fall out of warp drive, George?  LOL  Sorry, just a little Trek humour there.

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“Sometimes in order to see the light, you have to risk the dark.” ~ Iris Hineman (Lois Smith) The Minority Report

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Posted: 22 August 2007 09:45 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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Is “change” not constant?

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Posted: 22 August 2007 09:49 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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I think it depends on how you look at it.  It’s one of those things that deal with one’s POV and definition of change.

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Mriana
“Sometimes in order to see the light, you have to risk the dark.” ~ Iris Hineman (Lois Smith) The Minority Report

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Posted: 22 August 2007 09:58 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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In any given span of time, some things change and some things don’t. Arguably in a maximally large span of time, everything changes.

The claim that the only time that exists is the present is called “presentism” in philosophy. It is not a particularly popular stand. One issue is this. If only the present exists, then are there any true facts about what happened in the past? I mean, the past doesn’t exist. We all agree that the past doesn’t exist now, that is, it doesn’t exist in the present. But that’s a different thing from saying that it doesn’t exist at all.

Let’s think of space. I’m in NY. Paris doesn’t exist here, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist at all. We could come up with a similar claim to presentism, called “here-ism”, which is that the only things that exist are here. Stuff that’s over there doesn’t exist. This seems oddly solipsistic.

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Posted: 22 August 2007 12:12 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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dougsmith - 22 August 2007 09:58 AM

true facts

- hehe, as though there were any other kind of facts. smile

dougsmith - 22 August 2007 09:58 AM

In any given span of time, some things change and some things don’t. Arguably in a maximally large span of time, everything changes.

The claim that the only time that exists is the present is called “presentism” in philosophy. It is not a particularly popular stand. One issue is this. If only the present exists, then are there any true facts about what happened in the past? I mean, the past doesn’t exist. We all agree that the past doesn’t exist now, that is, it doesn’t exist in the present. But that’s a different thing from saying that it doesn’t exist at all.

Let’s think of space. I’m in NY. Paris doesn’t exist here, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist at all. We could come up with a similar claim to presentism, called “here-ism”, which is that the only things that exist are here. Stuff that’s over there doesn’t exist. This seems oddly solipsistic.

You know about Paris, people live there, you can travel there, you can obtain evidence that it exist.

But what evidence is there to support the continuing existence of the past after it has made it’s initial presence?

[ Edited: 22 August 2007 12:59 PM by morgantj ]
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Posted: 22 August 2007 01:02 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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morgantj - 22 August 2007 12:12 PM

You know about Paris, people live there, you can travel there, you can obtain evidence that it exist.

But remember, I’m being a proponent of “here-ism”. I’m here in NY, so NY is what exists. If I were in Paris, then NY wouldn’t exist.

Just like if it’s the present in 1872, 1737 doesn’t exist. And if I’m in 1991, 1872 doesn’t exist. The cases are analogous.

morgantj - 22 August 2007 12:12 PM

But what evidence is there to support the continuing existence of the past after it has made it’s initial presence?

Well, there is an obvious answer to that question: everything you see around you is evidence of the past!

If you’re asking something like, “How do I know everything didn’t just pop into existence this second, looking like it had a past?” there is clearly no logical proof available to us that says this couldn’t have happened. Just as Descartes said to himself he could have been dreaming all along.

But I imagine you have in mind some very tough epistemological scruple that says that if you can’t have X right in front of your eyes right now, you have no evidence for X. Since you can’t literally have the past in front of your eyes right now, you don’t have any evidence for the past.

These same epistemological scruples work for a “here-ist”. I don’t have Paris in front of my eyes right now, after all.

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Posted: 22 August 2007 01:03 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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morgantj - 22 August 2007 12:12 PM
dougsmith - 22 August 2007 09:58 AM

true facts

- hehe, as though there were any other kind of facts. smile

Ha!

Yes, sorry, redundancy ...

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Posted: 22 August 2007 01:30 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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dougsmith - 22 August 2007 01:02 PM
morgantj - 22 August 2007 12:12 PM

You know about Paris, people live there, you can travel there, you can obtain evidence that it exist.

But remember, I’m being a proponent of “here-ism”. I’m here in NY, so NY is what exists. If I were in Paris, then NY wouldn’t exist.

Just like if it’s the present in 1872, 1737 doesn’t exist. And if I’m in 1991, 1872 doesn’t exist. The cases are analogous.

morgantj - 22 August 2007 12:12 PM

But what evidence is there to support the continuing existence of the past after it has made it’s initial presence?

Well, there is an obvious answer to that question: everything you see around you is evidence of the past!

 

I thought you might go there. I agree the present may be evidence that there “was” a past present, but it doesn’t necessarily prove that the past “continues” to exist after it has already passed. Once the present moment passes… does it not just simply cease to be.

There seems to be a thought that there is like an image file of every present moment that is saved in some sort of archive that perhaps someday we can travel back to and revisit. A journey commonly referred to as time travel. This thought seems to propose that every moment is saved somewhere and archived. I’m asking for evidence of this archive of time. Perhaps the present is the accumulation of all past presents, but it is still only the present. It just has changed.

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Posted: 22 August 2007 01:50 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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morgantj - 22 August 2007 01:30 PM

I thought you might go there. I agree the present may be evidence that there “was” a past present, but it doesn’t necessarily prove that the past “continues” to exist after it has already passed. Once the present moment passes… does it not just simply cease to be.

Well, the past doesn’t continue to exist in the present, clearly. Think of reality as a four-dimensional spacetime manifold. That’s how Einstein envisioned it in his general theory of relativity. The present is one slice out of this manifold; and indeed some philosophers like JME McTaggart believe that it’s actually the present that’s the illusion. You have to consider that each moment is indexed to a time, just as each location is indexed to a place.

morgantj - 22 August 2007 01:30 PM

There seems to be a thought that there is like an image file of every present moment that is saved in some sort of archive that perhaps someday we can travel back to and revisit. A journey commonly referred to as time travel. This thought seems to propose that every moment is saved somewhere and archived. I’m asking for evidence of this archive of time.

But that is misleading. That implies that this archive exists in the present somewhere; like it might be located on Jupiter.

If we dispense with the misleading implication, we have an answer to the problem. The “archive” does exist. It exists in the past. Also, the word “archive” implies that this might be some sort of representation. (E.g., contained in books of some sort). It isn’t. It’s the reality itself.

Once again, think of my “here-ist”. He reads what you wrote and agrees with your project, only he uses it to be a here-ist: “There seems to be a thought that there is like an image file of every other place that is saved in some sort of archive that perhaps someday we can travel to visit. ... This thought seems to propose that every place is saved somewhere and archived. I’m asking for evidence of this archive.”

He doesn’t see Paris nearby, so it’s as though he’s implying that in order for other places to exist they have to be archived somewhere here in NY. But they clearly don’t need to be. They’re “archived” (= they exist) over there.

morgantj - 22 August 2007 01:30 PM

Perhaps the present is the accumulation of all past presents, but it is still only the present. It just has changed.

I don’t quite understand.

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Posted: 22 August 2007 02:50 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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Damn!! Very insightful thoughts deleted by random computer error. Anyway, I’ll try to reconstruct them, though I’m sure to fail.

I wonder if we’re at the point where I have to ask “what do you mean by ‘exist?’” I mean the present tense of the verb seems to imply existence now, so it is illogical to say the past exists. It did, now it doesn’t. Even if the Einsteinian model of space time is correct, it is so counter to our everyday perceptions, I’m not sure our language applies to it.

I also wonder if we’re confounding the scientific issues of 1)what is the nature of time and 2)how does conscious perception of time work with the philosophical issue of what Doug calls “presentism,” which I’m familiar with only through buddhism. Time may be as Einstein described it, but again that is an abstraction very distinct from hwo we perceive time. And whilke I feel as if I am present only in the moment, and the past is at a distance (memory) and the future only hypothetical, I think Dennett and others have shown cogently that this is an illusion created in the brain, that consciousness is distributed somewhat in space and time (albeit only within the brain and over milliseconds), so there is no unitary phenomenon of experiencing the precise moment of now. Still, philosophically I see some value in treating the present as the only reality, since it focuses attention in useful and helpful ways. Anway, this is not nearly as briliant as what I originaly wrote, so I hope it is not entirely incoherent.

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Posted: 22 August 2007 03:04 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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Right, Brennen. There are definitely issues of the epistemology of time (how we know about it, the brain’s construction of the so-called “specious present”, etc.)

There is also the issue of the strangeness of Einsteinian spacetime to our everyday concepts of space and time.

What I took us to be discussing here was the metaphysics, which is why I sort of left the epistemic issues to one side.

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Posted: 23 August 2007 12:05 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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I’m not quite sold yet. I’m not one to think that only what is here exist and what is over there does not. I know I can go over there and see and experience over-there’s existence. I’m free to move about space. However, It appears I’m not free to move about time. I can’t go back to my 2nd birthday, or when I bought my first car, etc… With “space,” I can go from here to over there and gather evidence that over-there exist. I cannot do that with time. There is simply no means to go back. This is because either there is no back (no past) to go back to, or we do not yet have the means to go back. 

However, I am ignorant to the subject. I’m just going off of what’s in my head. I’ve done no research at all. Due this forum post I’ve discovered such terms as “Philosophy of space and time”, “four dimensionalism”, and this “presentism” which I suggested (I just didn’t know it had a name!). It seems that this “four dimensionalism” has been proven? I’ve always had a lot of ideas floating around my head… I knew I wasn’t the first to have such ideas, but I didn’t know they all had labels defined already. It’s cool actually, I can go over all of this in more detail now knowing what names these theories go by. Thanks for your help and explanations.

I’ve never had anyone to discuss my philosophical ideas and questions with. Nobody I’m around really seems to care about this stuff. So this group is great for me. Thank you for conversing with me.

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Posted: 23 August 2007 07:49 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
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If you haven’t already checked out THIS webpage, you probably should. It’s part of the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, that has a lot of good intros into philosophical topics.

“Four dimensionalism” simply falls out of Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity. To the best of my knowledge (and I am not a physicist) General Relativity makes no essential distinction between the three dimensions of space and the one of time. This is why they use the word “spacetime” rather than “space and time”.

See, for instance: spacetime.

Part of the problem that arises in relativity is that there is no such thing as universal simultaneity. Simultaneity depends upon your reference frame, and different objects with different relative accelerations travel in different reference frames. So two events that appear simultaneous (happening in the same instant, e.g., the “present”) to you might not to me. So we have different presents.

So in a sense there cannot be a single thing, “the present”, for all of us.

See, for instance: The relativity of simultaneity.

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Posted: 23 August 2007 09:01 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
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Thanks Doug. I’ll check out the resources you shared.

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