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Yea Zeth, I know how a clock works, and I know that the business world goes by its number of revolutions per day. Implying that I did not understand this was obviously some sort of attempt at an insult to my intelligence, but I'm not so easily offended.
And he's right; that distinction hasn't been correct since Einstein's relativity theories were published and tested.
The fact is, we only perceive events that have already occurred.
If we can't agree on anything about the present, then, as I've already said, it's merely a subjective, abstract notion like God
Oh, and that analogy with Poland is entirely erroneous.
We're obviously just talking about two different things here. You mention "the popular understanding of time". What this thread is concerned with (or should be), is an objective, or absolute understanding of the nature of time. We can not claim that there exists an absolute "present" within spacetime, given the observations of relativity. That is why I objected to your initial statement that, "of course there is a present". Now, sure, when we're all standing around on the street corner talking about what's happening "right now" around us, we call this thing the present, and though it's not entirely accurate, of course the things we are observing do/did exist, and the concept of that moment of time (though unquantifiable) exists in our minds.
When relativity showed that there is no objective simultaneity, and that certain events can seem to last longer or shorter depending on the observer, it encouraged different philosophical views to take hold. The original post here was meant to argue against presentism (the doctrine that claims only the present exists), and I'm not sure how well it has done that. Relativity spawned many arguments to support the contrasting philosophy of eternalism, the doctrine of everything (past, present, future) existing, to the point where making a distinction between the three different time periods is meaningless. In this view, we exist in a "block universe", where everything (in all time periods) exists simultaneously in space. This view does seem to agree more with relativity, by the way, where an object has a worldline that is represented by its existence throughout space and time, and where events are relative. Eternalism would not exactly agree that "the present", as it is commonly defined, exists, in that it is no different from "the future" or "the past". See:
Rietdijk?Putnam argument - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Then there's McTaggart, again, who argued quite convincingly against the idea of time existing at all:
The Unreality of Time - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
My point is that there are many good arguments on the nature of time...and, regarding the objective measurement of time, we can't agree on a present. So, for you to come into this thread and do nothing but reiterate the fact that we all subjectively can perceive, and talk about some type of "present", as if it can apply to a discussion on the objective measurement of time (which as I've very briefly shown, is a highly relevant philosophical question, and always has been), is just unproductive.
Now if you can't understand that, I'll just leave you with Augustine's quote: "What then is time? If no one asks me, I know what it is. If I wish to explain it to him who asks, I do not know."
I'm sure this topic is beaten to death already, but I didn't see anybody talking about it as of recently, so here's my two cents.
Many people believe that only "the present" is real. It's preceded by the past, which you remember, and the future, which you imagine. I think that's a silly concept. Here's my rebuttal:
So, if the present is "a span of time zero seconds long", it effectively doesn't exist. Additional consequence: without the present to separate the past and the future, they become one distinguishable interval, which I choose to refer to simply as 'time'. My conclusion is that all moments in time are equally real.
- The present must lie between a time c seconds in the past, and c seconds in the future, where c is a mathematical constant. This is true because the present by definition is a span of time after the past and before the future.
- Units of time are merely a mathematical construct, and may be divided infinitely. Therefore, the present can be said to be ≤ c/∞ seconds in length.
- Any constant number divided by infinity is equal to zero. We must conclude that the present is ≤ zero seconds in length.
What do you guys think?