the experimental evidence for 'now'

  1. Philosophy Forum
  2. » Metaphysics
  3. » the experimental evidence for 'now'

Get Email Updates Email this Topic Print this Page

pagan
 
Reply Tue 10 Nov, 2009 08:52 am
....... there isn't any is there? Nor could there ever concievably be could there?

Suppose the present or 'now' were a delusion of consciousness. I can't see how science could ever prove this either way.

If 'now' is an experiential delusion (like say the universality of the rate of flow of time, which lets face it is very close to the concept of 'now'), then how could we concievably prove it? Any experiment would have to present data to us that showed the 'now' is delusional .... but would fail at the very moment of presentation! Space-time relativity can present data that enables us to believe that the rate of flow of 'now' is not universal. But what data could concievably show us that the 'now' does not exist at all?

On the other hand we could say that the relativity of the rate of flow of different 'now's as shown by einstein is proof of the existence of the 'now'. But that fails because if 'now' is a delusion then relativity simply correlates the delusion across different frames of reference. ie relativity works just as well without the concept of 'now' but as a mapping across different space-time frames within the universe. The subjective experience is absent from the equations. After all it notably puts forward for some major physicists the concept of the (space-time) block universe. It is odd that the 'now' is neither necessary nor a contradiction in relativity theory. The closest it gets in coming down one way or the other is with regard to the concept of simultaneity in that in relativity such a thing is generally impossible across different frames of reference. Since the 'now' is concieved of as a kind of frontier of simultaneous time then there appears a contradiction in the concept. But that is not a rejection of the concept of a frontier of time, its a rejection that such events would appear simultaneous generally. Its a rejection of a simplistic notion of the 'now' just as it rejects the simplistic notion of the rate of flow of time.

What about QM? Well one of the requirements of science is that its laws are universal in time. Prof Susskind for example clearly states that the QM equations are reversable in time (and incidentally that no information is lost). This is necessary for it to be scientific. In other words the collapse of the wave equation is not a 'now' dependent phenomenon. It happens and is not proposed to have been caused by the 'now'. It may happen in 'now' but it also may happen without 'now'. There is no link here to the proof of the existence or non existence of the 'now'. The equations work whether in delusion ....... or in touch with reality. Either way.

Even with the copenhagen interpretation where the act of measurement is posited as the cause of the collapse of the wave function, the 'now' is not necessary. One could concievably see in experimental history that a measurement caused a wave function collapse .... but that document would only confirm that the 'now' is not necessary!

And isn't this at the crux of the matter? Science is built upon the history (however short) of experimental data. Thus the 'now' is neither necessary, nor a pariah. It is scientifically irrelevant.

....... and yet we all believe in it. It is commonly the most potent aspect of our lives.
 
I am question
 
Reply Tue 10 Nov, 2009 12:00 pm
@pagan,
pagan;102786 wrote:
....... there isn't any is there? Nor could there ever concievably be could there?

Suppose the present or 'now' were a delusion of consciousness. I can't see how science could ever prove this either way.

If 'now' is an experiential delusion (like say the universality of the rate of flow of time, which lets face it is very close to the concept of 'now'), then how could we concievably prove it? Any experiment would have to present data to us that showed the 'now' is delusional .... but would fail at the very moment of presentation! Space-time relativity can present data that enables us to believe that the rate of flow of 'now' is not universal. But what data could concievably show us that the 'now' does not exist at all?

On the other hand we could say that the relativity of the rate of flow of different 'now's as shown by einstein is proof of the existence of the 'now'. But that fails because if 'now' is a delusion then relativity simply correlates the delusion across different frames of reference. ie relativity works just as well without the concept of 'now' but as a mapping across different space-time frames within the universe. The subjective experience is absent from the equations. After all it notably puts forward for some major physicists the concept of the (space-time) block universe. It is odd that the 'now' is neither necessary nor a contradiction in relativity theory. The closest it gets in coming down one way or the other is with regard to the concept of simultaneity in that in relativity such a thing is generally impossible across different frames of reference. Since the 'now' is concieved of as a kind of frontier of simultaneous time then there appears a contradiction in the concept. But that is not a rejection of the concept of a frontier of time, its a rejection that such events would appear simultaneous generally. Its a rejection of a simplistic notion of the 'now' just as it rejects the simplistic notion of the rate of flow of time.

What about QM? Well one of the requirements of science is that its laws are universal in time. Prof Susskind for example clearly states that the QM equations are reversable in time (and incidentally that no information is lost). This is necessary for it to be scientific. In other words the collapse of the wave equation is not a 'now' dependent phenomenon. It happens and is not proposed to have been caused by the 'now'. It may happen in 'now' but it also may happen without 'now'. There is no link here to the proof of the existence or non existence of the 'now'. The equations work whether in delusion ....... or in touch with reality. Either way.

Even with the copenhagen interpretation where the act of measurement is posited as the cause of the collapse of the wave function, the 'now' is not necessary. One could concievably see in experimental history that a measurement caused a wave function collapse .... but that document would only confirm that the 'now' is not necessary!

And isn't this at the crux of the matter? Science is built upon the history (however short) of experimental data. Thus the 'now' is neither necessary, nor a pariah. It is scientifically irrelevant.

....... and yet we all believe in it. It is commonly the most potent aspect of our lives.


Im sorry, are you talking about the present time? This seems to be a very interesting idea. Would you think that everything that has ever happened, all happens at once, that there is no past or future, because in order to have a past and future you need time. Time in science does not have any laws restricting it nor has it ever, which is interesting. But saying that 'now' or the present is a delusion in our conscience is kind of hard to prove on either side of the idea. So if you cannot prove that it is or is not a delusion, then why question its existence? It would seem to be running in circles to have a question with no possible answer. But saying that the present 'now' is a delusion in our conscience is saying that anything could be a delusion, but anything in our conscience is real to us in perception and sensory. So how can you consider what is a delusion and what is not. Simply telling yourself it is not real, or having an outside observer. :brickwall:
 
pagan
 
Reply Tue 10 Nov, 2009 06:19 pm
@I am question,
hi i am question

the point of the post apart from an interest in whether it is concievable to experimentally prove that the 'now' exists is in the last line of my post.

If the 'now' is scientifically irrelevant (experientially or otherwise) then it raises the possibility of the limits of science re a very important aspect of reality (if the 'now' does actually exist that is). It also raises the possibility that subjective experience has the potential to raise awareness of something existing in reality that is beyond science. I say 'has the potential' in that it would in a sense still be an act of faith to believe in the 'now' since we couldn't prove it wasn't an illusion. (proof as in science). Thus in such a scenario the experience of the 'now' gives the option of having faith in the existence of something outside scientific measurement which might actually exist.

If we compare that to say a belief in god (also irrelevant to science) then the rationalist objection that there is no scientific evidence for it is weakened because the 'now' is in the same category, but belief in it is not controversial. In fact most scientists interpret scientific theories as if the 'now' exists ..... despite there being no evidence or scientific necessity for it.

In fact existence itself tends to be interpreted as 'that which is in the 'now'". If the 'now' is an experiential illusion then existence becomes a much wider concept scientifically..... and there are major philosphical consequences to that too Smile
 
I am question
 
Reply Thu 12 Nov, 2009 06:49 am
@pagan,
Im going to tell you, this is some thought provoking writing. To say we are in this 'now' without proof to support it, without no experimental evidence, is to hard to comprehend in the sense saying it may not exist. But we need to look at the definition of existence first. To know your alive and to know you create actions, isn't that enough to prove existence? I want to get more into this, but it makes my head hurt sometimes and I need to eat. Please continue more posts.
 
pagan
 
Reply Thu 12 Nov, 2009 08:34 am
@I am question,
hi i am question

Quote:
To know your alive and to know you create actions, isn't that enough to prove existence?
well that depends upon what you mean by proof. Is it enough of a subjective experience to be convincing that the 'now' exists? ..... well yeh who could criticise anyone for that! Smile But as we know subjective experience can be radically altered in its implied belief of existence, not least through scientific evidence. But i can't see how we can do an objective scientific experiment to prove the 'now' exists so that throws us back entirely on subjectivity. What is interesting is that science can be read with or without a belief in the 'now' as either real or conscious illusion. It is thus irrelevant. No comment. Interpret anything, even using it as an aspect of physical reality if you want....... it makes no difference scientifically. Just like a mysterious god.

Now thats ok and fine. We could adopt the attitude from this observation, as say with respect to me supporting chelsea football club and making it a part of my life. "Ok commit to that if you want to, its irrelevant to me." But philosophically there are a number of people who take things like this much more seriously. They may be truth seekers and just need to know! They may need to know whether the 'now' exists definitively because of a fundamental aspect of their belief system with regard to the world. For them supporting chelsea football club is indeed irrelevant, but not knowing whether the 'now' exists, or in what context it exists may be of the highest importance. For others if it is the case and can be argued convincingly that it is the case, that the 'now' can only be believed in using subjective experience and can never by the nature of objective science itself be commented upon one way or the other scientifically ...... well that for some is a philosophical catastrophe. What might be considered a gap whereby the devil himself can get in. Smile lol (sorry to laugh, its just funny from where i am sitting).

Incidentally, another way i think of looking at this is to see science as the developement of a super text. But still a text. The ultimate instruction manual for understanding the universe. Moreover such a good manual that one can go beyond understanding and into engineering. But it is still a symbolic text even though it uses special language like mathematics. One could imagine that the final completion of a unified field theory (or whatever) would be a finite set of symbols potentially cross cultural over all time and space where any life exists that is capable of reading it. BUT how can you read about the 'now' from a scientific text? (or any text??) Its a text using objective language. It doesn't change. It is not alive. Its axioms come from dead experimental data. Any appreciation of 'now' comes from the living reader themselves. This does not however undermine the power of the ultimate (or any) scientific text as a useful manual for understanding the world, including the over throwing of many subjective beliefs.
Quote:

But we need to look at the definition of existence first.
i agree, especially existence from a scientific perspective. Now what do we mean scientifically by existence? As you pointed out in the other thread, time may not be physical. Physicality is a special type of existence, and as such one that can be experimented upon in the course of scientific study. But what about the 'now'?

Well in a common interpretation, the 'now' IS reality, including all physical existence. That is, if it aint 'now' then it cannot exist physically or otherwise. Since science is the study of physical existence then it is no surprise therefore that the 'now' under this conception would pose a major problem for science to study it ..... because it is ALL of physical existence! So big in a sense that it is the very context for not only all material existence but also the existence of science itself (as physical but a text, and the interpretation of it?).

Going to the other extreme one could imagine that the 'now' does not physically exist at all. That it is a non physical mental construct. (a bit like your assertion re time generally). Well if physicality exists, and the 'now' is not physical .... well thereby is another potential reason why science cannot study it. Moreover, if it is a mental construct then presumably so is the past and the future. Therefore either physical existence is not contained in an ever changing 'now' as above, but is the totality of all physical history..... or physicality is so strange that such a past, present, future biased mental adaptation is incapable of encapsulating it.

But there are other scenarios too. One that i am seriously open minded to is the concept of first and subsequent time. Imagine all of history of the universe being written the first time by a 'now' frontier into the void. But even as it is being 'written' other waves of 'now' rewrite the history behind it! Smile .... (i wont go into detail here re QM etc but its just an example of the possibilities that are open in the absence of any objective comment about the nature and existence of 'now' by science.)
 
I am question
 
Reply Thu 12 Nov, 2009 09:06 am
@pagan,
I think this is more of a debate on semantics. Because you can have the subjective experience of reality and prove that it does exist through consciousness, but lets push this to a further degree. We have of course the idea of observer and actuality, but take this. Mind me as I get a little plato on you, but we can say the 'now' doesn't exist and there's one major reason for this. We are the only observers to define its existence. So there is no outside observer besides ourselves as a whole. We can have agreeance upon us but no one else, so what proof can we have to say present tense does exist? We obviously know that the universe was there before us, and still continues to thrive when we are here. But I feel that our mind, and the intelligence given to us, is so hard to comprehend its complete defiance, that we need reason for everything. It doesn't seem to be a mistake or flaw, just too hard for us to grasp. I hope you understand what Im trying to say here. But like I said at the beginning of this post, it seems to be more of a debate of word for word. But if you want to completely stay strict to physical reality, then yes I completely agree with you on this subject, no doubt. But what is stopping us from saying that we need proof for the existence of the 'now', thats just our species saying this, understand? :brickwall:
 
pagan
 
Reply Thu 12 Nov, 2009 09:43 am
@I am question,
i must admit i don't quite understand but nevertheless some points you raise i will respond to which may clarify things. (incidentally 'semantics' is often used as a derogatory term in philosophical debate and quite rightly so, but when exploring fundamental concepts and how they combine i think semantics can be very elucidating .... even creative.)

Quote:
i am question.........but we can say the 'now' doesn't exist and there's one major reason for this. We are the only observers to define its existence. So there is no outside observer besides ourselves as a whole. We can have agreeance upon us but no one else, so what proof can we have to say present tense does exist?
well again it depends what you mean by proof. Absolute objective non relativistic non subjective proof? the problem i immediately see with regard to the above logic can be illustrated as follows....


Quote:
.........but we can say that science doesn't exist and there's one major reason for this. We are the only observers to define its existence. So there is no outside observer besides ourselves as a whole. We can have agreeance upon us but no one else, so what proof can we have to say science does exist?
If your response is we can come across other beings who share our belief and practice in science, then we could also say there is the possibility of coming across other beings who share our belief and experience of the 'now'.

Quote:
We obviously know that the universe was there before us, and still continues to thrive when we are here. But I feel that our mind, and the intelligence given to us, is so hard to comprehend its complete defiance, that we need reason for everything. It doesn't seem to be a mistake or flaw, just too hard for us to grasp.
well yeh that may be the case and and seems a perfectly respectable position to take. But as i said before, for some the non objective evidence for the 'now' could be troubling. (are you accepting that there can be no experimental scientific evidence for the 'now' ...... because i don't Smile . i just don't see how at the moment it is concievable and i commit on that basis.)

With regard to our pre existence in the history of the universe ...... well since we don't know if the 'now' IS physicality or is a subjective experience then we are in the dark as to the existence of the 'now' prior to life either way.
 
I am question
 
Reply Thu 12 Nov, 2009 10:04 am
@pagan,
Im done, this is too much for me. I think this is how people go crazy. How bout we just say we are living in The Matrix, cause anything is possible. :brickwall::surrender:
 
xris
 
Reply Thu 12 Nov, 2009 10:24 am
@I am question,
I must say pagan you had shed loads of credibility till you mentioned Chelsea.

Im not sure of your questioning of, now, and its relative merits or its nonexistence. I have always claimed that now never exists, we only have memory of past events and expectations. Now only exists as a memory never as a fixed moment in time.
 
pagan
 
Reply Thu 12 Nov, 2009 10:27 am
@I am question,
lolol i am question, ok ....... personally i would have sold out to the agents and replaced real slop for perfectly convincing simulated steak and a gorgeous girl to chat to anyday. :a-ok: who needs revolution when you have happy delusional freedom?

---------- Post added 11-12-2009 at 04:35 PM ----------

lolol xris ..... its so ironic. I have supported chelsea for 40 years, saw them reach the edge of bankruptcy, get rescued by a billionaire, become a great side ..... and then everyone thinks that chelsea supporters are naff! Smile

As for the 'now'. I think its up for grabs. What i like best about that is that we can choose to have faith in an enchanted world because of the obvious mystery it raises through considering its ethereal nature. It is always in our face and out of reach. Magic.
 
xris
 
Reply Thu 12 Nov, 2009 11:37 am
@pagan,
Only joshing pagan ,one of my sons supports Chelsea, bless him.

NOW, is the time of our discontent made worse by Chelsea's success.
 
I am question
 
Reply Wed 28 Apr, 2010 10:37 pm
@pagan,
Pagan I would like to add a little more of my thought on this, as before I had almost half-baked ideas you might say. I don't understand if your are in need of experimental evidence for 'now' subjectively which would be impossible. But can we say that our evidence for 'now' would be us breathing? Because if your involving the present moment as a separate physical entity, then that object would be the evidence it self. But involving present tense, or the now, would be to involve the illusion of time. So therefore observing and actuality would be flawed. So let us run our minds on a hamster wheel, its going to be loud, annoying and going in circles.
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Wed 28 Apr, 2010 10:43 pm
@I am question,
I am question;157788 wrote:
Pagan I would like to add a little more of my thought on this, as before I had almost half-baked ideas you might say. I don't understand if your are in need of experimental evidence for 'now' subjectively which would be impossible. But can we say that our evidence for 'now' would be us breathing? Because if your involving the present moment as a separate physical entity, then that object would be the evidence it self. But involving present tense, or the now, would be to involve the illusion of time. So therefore observing and actuality would be flawed. So let us run our minds on a hamster wheel, its going to be loud, annoying and going in circles.


What is now? Before we ask for experimental evidence for it.
 
north
 
Reply Wed 28 Apr, 2010 11:26 pm
@kennethamy,
kennethamy;157795 wrote:
What is now?


now

nothing more nothing less
 
pagan
 
Reply Thu 29 Apr, 2010 06:21 am
@I am question,
I am question;157788 wrote:
Pagan I would like to add a little more of my thought on this, as before I had almost half-baked ideas you might say. I don't understand if your are in need of experimental evidence for 'now' subjectively which would be impossible. But can we say that our evidence for 'now' would be us breathing? Because if your involving the present moment as a separate physical entity, then that object would be the evidence it self. But involving present tense, or the now, would be to involve the illusion of time. So therefore observing and actuality would be flawed. So let us run our minds on a hamster wheel, its going to be loud, annoying and going in circles.


My need to know if there is an experimental basis for the existence of 'now' is really a challenge to those who have faith that science can prove (by its own terms) that the now exists or not. I am interested, and if there is an objective scientific demonstration of the now i am very interested to hear it.

Personally as someone who has studied science, i can't see how it is possible for science to prove the now does or does not exist. This for me demonstrates something critical re the narrative of science. The now is ultra important to our lives (not exclusively of course) even to a scientist and an objectivist. So if it is impossible for science and logic to demonstrate its existence or not, then thats a huge example of incompleteness of that narrative.

But looking deeper, existence itself is commonly held by scientists as 'physical and in the now'. Much more emphasis is placed upon physicality, with great success. (i am using physicality in its widest possible meaning, to include space and energy). So physical composition and how physicality relates to itself is the prize and gift of the scientific narrative. A great gift.

(Incidentally, in other threads i have questioned the scientific assumptions of space and shown how objectivity breaks down here too. Reapeatability for universality of objective truth is another assumption within science too. I think we can learn a great deal philosophically from deconstructing science.)

If we notice that science has sort of bypassed a definition of existence as 'physical and in the now' to just physical, then suddenly the whole concept of time which is written into science necessarily becomes problematic. Does the past present and future co exist? Is it fixed? If not fixed then what is change? On the other hand is existence the same as being in the now exclusively? If so then how do we recognise this truth as fundamental to an objective science, without being able to prove it scientifically?

Science is now very seriously considering the multi universe theory. What on earth (or elsewhere) does that do to the concept of the now?

With regards to semantics, well again i see physical science as necessarily (in its present form) as the generating of the ultimate fixed text. This is the faith of many scientists. Despite a text that has constantly changed, people have faith that one day fundamental physics will be 'completed'. It may assume that the now exists, as an axiom for example, but can it prove it? You cannot prove an axiom, and if the now is axiomatic to science, then what inspired it?

Quote:
But can we say that our evidence for 'now' would be us breathing? Because if your involving the present moment as a separate physical entity, then that object would be the evidence it self. But involving present tense, or the now, would be to involve the illusion of time.
I think i understand where you are coming from. If only the now exists, then memory and thought and desire create the illusion of time? 'Now as the only physicality' can only refer to the past and future in terms of language within that 'now physicality', and as such creates something to relate to that doesn't exist (anymore or yet). ie past and future are language illusions within the now.

Yes, and of course science cannot function without that illusion (reference between 'times') because in order to be the truth about physicality it sets up to describe how the now changes. (if only the now exists that is). You cannot describe without a language, and if the now is all that exists, then the language has to come from the now. That language however, in science, cannot progress without creating the illusion of the past and future in order to chart the change of the now.

ie in such a scenario, the illusions created by science (past and future time imagined) reveal a great gift in understanding the now. The problem philosophically of course, is that it grounds science in language, narrative and imagination. What of the claim of 'objectivity' under such circumstances?
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Thu 29 Apr, 2010 06:24 am
@north,
north;157818 wrote:
now

nothing more nothing less


Hmm. Is "now" the name of something?
 
xris
 
Reply Thu 29 Apr, 2010 06:44 am
@kennethamy,
I cant see it existing in fact, only in our imagination. We place an event in a certain time period and we feel we are experiencing a constant, now, but in reality it does not exist. Now, conveys a moment frozen in time. If we ever experience now then time has ceased to exist. You cant look at a river and point to one little bit and say thats the river but you can look at that part of the river and know it is the river.
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Thu 29 Apr, 2010 06:53 am
@xris,
xris;157906 wrote:
I cant see it existing in fact, only in our imagination. We place an event in a certain time period and we feel we are experiencing a constant, now, but in reality it does not exist. Now, conveys a moment frozen in time. If we ever experience now then time has ceased to exist. You cant look at a river and point to one little bit and say thats the river but you can look at that part of the river and know it is the river.


Hmm. We imagine that now is now, and not later or before?

"Philosophy is a battle against the bewitchment of the intelligence by language". "Philosophy occurs when language goes on holiday". Wittgenstein.
 
pagan
 
Reply Thu 29 Apr, 2010 06:55 am
@xris,
hi xris

yes i can appreciate that too. The curious thing is that beliefs in the now, and beliefs that the now does not exist, both yield useful but contradictory understanding of reality.
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Thu 29 Apr, 2010 07:00 am
@pagan,
pagan;157909 wrote:
hi xris

yes i can appreciate that too. The curious thing is that beliefs in the now, and beliefs that the now does not exist, both yield useful but contradictory understanding of reality.


The really curious thing is that it is thought that the phrases, "belief in the now" and, "belief that the now does not exist" are thought to make sense. Sounds like Obama, "the fierce urgency of now". But we sort of know what he meant. Something like, "pull up your socks, and get going, for heaven's sake!". Only, of course, not so poetic.
 
 

 
  1. Philosophy Forum
  2. » Metaphysics
  3. » the experimental evidence for 'now'
Copyright © 2024 MadLab, LLC :: Terms of Service :: Privacy Policy :: Page generated in 0.04 seconds on 06/22/2024 at 12:19:05