Existential Time

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qualia
 
Reply Sun 2 May, 2010 11:54 am
Brief Thoughts on Time
The question is an ontological one: What is time? And in agreement with Augustin of Hippo, we may know what time is, but when it comes to explaining what time is, the answer becomes a lot more confused. Historically speaking, it appears that mankind has dressed up time in four distinct manners or disguises and it is interesting to note how our understanding of time has followed our way of measuring it.

The Sun
First there was light and once the sun gods had been torn away from the burning disk, mankind began to measure the sun's movement. They did this by taking the position of a shadow's longitud projected over a divided base which was used to indicate time's passage.

Time was dressed up in metricallity and the sun dial obliged the sun to perform tricks of geometry. The Greeks called their clock Gnomo and Gnomo was the knowledge of time. The root of gnomo is Gnosis which also means something like knowledge or insight. From the sun dial, thinkers tried to draw out a defintition of time and they did this by abstracting and eliminating all the sun dial's concrete features.

Out went the sun, the dial, the divided ticks on it, until all that was left was a kind of pure, abstracted movement, a shadow of movement, a geometrical abstraction of lines and angles. This new phenomenon realised needed a new name, because it was no longer sun movement, nor was it any kind of movement which could move or collide with anything real.

So the Greeks called it Chronus, and Chronus was pure movement, a bodiless, formless, propertyless blob of movement. To measure time's abstraction, to make Chronus become form, the Greeks dressed time in notation according to Before and After, which is essentially how Chronus would appear on the Gnomo.

And because Gnomo the sun dial was public, but also related to the cosmic being, Chronus, time was something not only objective (gnomo), but also universal (chronus). The only subjective component was the actual dial and numbers manufactured, and it is probably for this reason that Aristotle notes that the soul, our very human subjectivity is in time.

Sand Time
The sand clock eventually replaced the sun dial and although this new instrument still measured time as a magnitude, mankind's understanding of time began to change. The sand dial could be moved from the public square or private garden, to the comfort of one's room. It became a more intimate container of the unforgiving progress of time in the consciousness of women and men.

Pocket Time
Here we can see the gradual movement towards personalised time: from the square, to the room, to the individual pocket and wrist. With pocket time there is no direct reference to any natural forces (the sun or sand's gravity) and henceforth, time is ever more individualised.

With the advent of pocket time comes the early discourses in subjectivity, idealism and the gradual rise of the intimacy of time in philosophical debate. Time is now dilating and contracting as people begin to live with their pocket watches. Quite literally, time is seen as passing quicker and slower. With the popularity of the pocket watch, we encounter the Kantian notion of time, the dilation and contraction of time within the inner-body.

Time's duration is presented as sometimes lasting longer and sometimes shorter according to the degree of the contraction or dilation of innerbody time, according to the state of mind one's in. When one is happy, for example, time flies, time is amplified. When sad or depressed, time becomes concentrated and dense and slow although time itself as the universal abstract - Chronus - remains uniform.

Atomic Time
The fourth stage of mankind's dealings with time arrive with the advent of atomic time, Einstein's notions of time, and the theory of relativity. Time is not uniform at all and in like manner the object to measure it has literally disappeared. There is no manner in which to know if any time is equal to any other in length.

The uniformity of time is something physically and conceptually uncontrolable and therefore any notion of uniform time is just a useful convention we use in day to day life. With the advent of atomic time, philosophical discourse gradually moves away from the seeking of the fixed and permanent, and is now expressed as a liberation towards more fruitful styles of probability in which there is no uniform way of being, and no doubt in which time may not even exist.

Brief Reflections
As we have seen, we can tweak out the following conceptions. In the first instance, both our understanding of time and our measurement of time is fixed and universal. Over the centuries, our measurement of time becomes ever more personalised, existential, and yet, without our understanding of time developing, the measurement itself, even when personalised, is one of a constant universal. The theory of relativity changes all that and time becomes fixed again, not universally, but by the observer.

This raises the complex and difficult question of whether time is external or internal? Is time something actually there that is affected by movement, or is time a mind-dependent measurement of change that alters according to the state of the observer?
 
prothero
 
Reply Sun 2 May, 2010 02:54 pm
@qualia,
qualia;159340 wrote:
This raises the complex and difficult question of whether time is external or internal? Is time something actually there that is affected by movement, or is time a mind-dependent measurement of change that alters according to the state of the observer?
It is pretty clear that time is actually the rate of which certain processes occur (say the rotation of the earth, the revolution of the earth around the sound, the oscillation of a crystal, or the radioactive decay of an element and that the rate at which these processes occur (not too surprisingly when you think about it) is affected by relative velocity, gravity and acceleration. There are still some fixed values in nature (the speed of light being relevant to this discussion) but time, mass and volume are not fixed (space time is warped or flexible) and the Cartesian notion of space as a rigid box and time as a fixed interval is well; just wrong.

Actually human perception does not affect the rate of any of these processes (although the rate of mental processing itself would probably be affected) but biological processes are likewise affected by these factors hence the traveling twin paradox.
 
longfun
 
Reply Sun 2 May, 2010 02:59 pm
@qualia,
what is the minimum input a "human" body needs to observe difference of any kind?
 
prothero
 
Reply Sun 2 May, 2010 03:15 pm
@longfun,
longfun;159380 wrote:
what is the minimum input a "human" body needs to observe difference of any kind?
Im not sure what you are asking but we live in a world of perpetual change not a world of "fixed objects or fixed reality".
 
longfun
 
Reply Mon 3 May, 2010 12:02 am
@prothero,
prothero;159385 wrote:
Im not sure what you are asking but we live in a world of perpetual change not a world of "fixed objects or fixed reality".

Are you sure? Than what is the minimum input you need to establish or observe this perpetual change?
 
prothero
 
Reply Mon 3 May, 2010 12:38 am
@longfun,
longfun;159477 wrote:
Are you sure? Than what is the minimum input you need to establish or observe this perpetual change?
I am afraid I must ask you to put forth an argument for "fixed reality" an unchanging reality. And what do you mean by "minimum input".
A world without change is a world without time, and a world without time is well "not reality".

Yes, I am not sure about many things, but about this I feel reasonably certain. Reality is constantly changing and in flux. Since I do not understand what you mean, explain it to me, instead of just repeating the same question. Thank you.
 
longfun
 
Reply Mon 3 May, 2010 12:54 am
@prothero,
prothero;159482 wrote:
I am afraid I must ask you to put forth an argument for "fixed reality" an unchanging reality. And what do you mean by "minimum input".
A world without change is a world without time, and a world without time is well "not reality".

Yes, I am not sure about many things, but about this I feel reasonably certain. Reality is constantly changing and in flux. Since I do not understand what you mean, explain it to me, instead of just repeating the same question. Thank you.

I'm struggling with the same problem.
An unchanging reality would for example be a potentiality (containing potential options, having potential properties) to observe any reality in it you would need to be a moving observer, never static, an observer moving within this potentiality.
But the observer would always be this total potentiality to. No devision of any kind on this level
 
jeeprs
 
Reply Mon 3 May, 2010 03:05 am
@qualia,
qualia;159340 wrote:
The Greeks called their clock Gnomo and Gnomo was the knowledge of time. The root of gnomo is Gnosis which also means something like knowledge or insight.


I am not sure this is correct. 'Gnosis' is from an indo-european root, the same root as from which we derive knowledge, and prognosis and from which the Sanskrit jnana is derived. I would be surprised if 'gnomo' is from the same root (although am open to persuasion):bigsmile:
 
qualia
 
Reply Tue 4 May, 2010 04:48 am
@jeeprs,
Thanks for the insight, jeeprs. You're probably right, but here, say, at the wiki (Gnomon - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia) it does suggest that the word gnomon, which I mistakingly scripted as gnomo, is the word they used for their sun dial, shadow clocks. With a little licence, and poetic tweaking :whistling:, I simply imagined this was derived from their idea of gnosis.
 
jeeprs
 
Reply Tue 4 May, 2010 05:23 am
@qualia,
Thanks, I read the Wikipedia entry. 'Gnomon' is a term I hadn't heard before but but I don't think it is related to gnosis. But never mind. As regards the OP, I think the intriguing idea to explore is the requirement for a sense of duration, from which any measure of time is derived. All of the times mentioned - planetary rotation, hourglasses, and even atomic clocks - somehow seem to require a witnessing consciousness which orders the sequence of events into past and future. Without the capacity for memory and expectation, or the comparison of one system here, with another system there, it is hard to see how 'time' could be said to exist.

I have been reading an interesting book called The Goldilocks Enigma: Why is the Universe Just Right for Life, by physicist Paul Davies (published in some markets as The Cosmic Blueprint.) In it, he says (page 261)

Quote:
When it comes to the universe as a whole, time loses its meaning, for there is nothing else relative to which the universe may be said to change. This 'vanishing' of time for the entire universe becomes very explicit in quantum cosmology, where the time variable simply drops out of the quantum description. It may readily be restored in the theory by considering the universe to be separated into two sub-systems: an observer with a clock, and the rest of the universe. So the observer plays an absolutely critical role in this respect. Linde [Andrei Linde, a physicist] expresses it graphically: "Thus we see that without introducing an observer, we have a dead universe, which does not evolve in time", and "we are together, the universe and us. The moment you say that the universe exists without any observers, I cannot make any sense out of this. I cannot imagine a consistent theory of everything that ignores consciousness...in the absence of observers, our universe is dead."
This supports the idea that time itself is actually a function of consciousness. As Kant said.
 
qualia
 
Reply Tue 4 May, 2010 06:06 am
@jeeprs,
That's brilliant, jeeprs and a suspicion that I can't shake myself.Indeed, as you put it, it's hard to see how time could be said to exist independently of our consciousness. The quote you provide is also something I think Shopenhaur (soap 'n shower) would also agree with. Prothero, if I have read him correctly, seems to be suggesting as well that although there may be some fixed values in the cosmos, perhaps time is not one of them. Your mention of Kant is also revealing, because if I've got it right, I think Einstein was greatly influenced by the thinker and perhaps, to some extent, derived his notion of relativity from Kant's notion of category time. Obviously, I'm not to sure what I'm talking about here, and way out of my depths, but the suspicion I tried to raise is that many of our philosophical understandings of time might be mere abstractions of our every day tools and the way we utilise them to indicate our existential experience of the passing of time.
 
prothero
 
Reply Tue 4 May, 2010 08:17 am
@jeeprs,
jeeprs;159902 wrote:
Thanks, I read the Wikipedia entry. 'Gnomon' is a term I hadn't heard before but but I don't think it is related to gnosis. But never mind. As regards the OP, I think the intriguing idea to explore is the requirement for a sense of duration, from which any measure of time is derived. All of the times mentioned - planetary rotation, hourglasses, and even atomic clocks - somehow seem to require a witnessing consciousness which orders the sequence of events into past and future. Without the capacity for memory and expectation, or the comparison of one system here, with another system there, it is hard to see how 'time' could be said to exist.
.
Frankly I have a lot of trouble with this concept. I guess my thinking is a little too concrete for it. For the universe has been plodding along engaging in process and change for 14 billion years or so and we have been around maybe the last 200,000 or so. So I fail to see how time conceived as process depends on human consciousness. If one thinks there is some universal mind that creates time (and Davies in some ways does) that would be a different question. To assert however that time (conceived of as change) does not exist without us to observe it reminds me of the eternal omniscient diety of religion and the 6.000 yr. old theory of creation and history.
 
Dasein
 
Reply Tue 4 May, 2010 12:02 pm
@qualia,
Qualia;

Oh goody! We get to talk about time. Thanks Qualia.

Pick up the etch-a-sketch you diagrammed 'time' on, peel back the cellophane and wipe the slate clean.

About 1/4 of the way in from the left side (you can use a piece of paper, turned sideways, if you want) draw a vertical line and label it 'Past'. Don't draw the line all the way down, leave room for labels and information under the lines.

On the right side of the etch-a-sketch (or paper), draw another line and label it the 'Future". Between the 'Past' and the 'Future' draw another line and label it 'Present'. Draw a box around all of this and above the box and write the word 'Time'.

The 'Past' is called the 'Past' because something has passed. (what has passed is the 'Instant', more on that later)
The 'Present' is called the 'Present' because it is a present. (with a bow) Actually the 'Present' is related to your 'Presence'. If you are bringing forth your 'Presence', you are 'Present' and that's the gift.
The definition of 'Future' is what is 'about to be'.

Imagine we are standing in the 'Present' and it is the time of day that the sun comes up in the east. We know from the experience of yesterday, the day before, and the day before that, etc. that in the 'Past' the sun was over the horizon and in the 'Future' the sun will travel across the sky and go down in the west.

Now we are standing in the 'Present' and it is the time of day we call 'noon'. We know from the experience of earlier today that in the 'Past' the sun came up in the east and in the 'Present' it is directly overhead. We know from the experience of yesterday, the day before, and the day before that, etc. that in the 'Future' the sun will travel across the sky and go down in the west.

Have you ever noticed that you can 'talk about' the 'Past' and you can 're-present' the past but your 'representation' never 'brings back' the 'Past' in all of its detail? So, if you can't 're-present' the 'Past' accurately in all of its detail then the 'Past' has passed and all that remains is our 'inaccurate re-presentation', right? If all we can muster is an 'inaccurate re-presentation' then the 'Past' doesn't exist, does it?

The 'Future', ahh the 'Future'. Like the movement of the sun, the 'Future' is nothing more than a 'projection' of an 'inaccurate re-presentation' of the 'Past'.

The 'Present' is a place marker. It marks where you 'presently' are.

Look above the box on the etch-a-sketch at the label, 'Time'. Notice that 'Time' is outside of the 'construct' called 'Past', 'Present', and 'Future'. When you include 'Time' in the 'construct' called 'Past', 'Present', and 'Future', it becomes a concept. It becomes a 'combination of characteristics'. The concept of 'Time' then includes the rise and fall of the sun, the length of shadows, watches, etc. No need to draw this out, you get the point.

Under the box labeled 'Time' I want you to write the word 'Now'. There are 3 things I want you to notice about 'Now', 1) 'Now' is outside of the 'construct' called 'Past', 'Present', and 'Future', 2) the only 'Time' you can talk about 'Time' is 'Now', and 3) 'Now' defies your inclination to 'reduce' it to a 'construct', 'combination of characteristics', a concept.

What 'Time' does point to happens 'Now'. What happens 'Now' does not happen in the 'Past', the 'Present', or in the 'Future'.

Pick up the etch-a-sketch again and on the left-hand side write the word 'Instant'. Notice that the 'Instant' like 'Time' and 'Now' is outside of the 'Past', 'Present', and 'Future'.

The 'Instant' is what we use to point to 'you', 'you', 'be-ing'. 'You' actively unfold your life in an 'Instant' when you uncover a 'distinction'.

Let me give you a couple of examples.

1) Your mother and father buy you your first bicycle. You and your dad go outside so you can 'learn' how to ride the bicycle. You're not sure about whether you will be able to learn to ride or not. You sit on the bike and dad holds on to the seat so you don't fall over. He pushes you so you can gain momentum. While he is pushing you he might "excitedly tell you what to do" in an elevated volume and you might excitedly think that "he should stop yelling at you and let you do it. You're pedaling, he's pushing, and then you notice that he's not pushing anymore. You pedal, wobble and steer to keep your momentum. In an 'Instant' you discover (uncover) that you can ride a bike. You keep pedaling, wobbling, and steering to keep your momentum but now you 'know' you can ride a bicycle.

2) You're out on a date with someone. You're sitting in a restaurant, across from each other, talking. You're enjoying the company of each other and then you notice (in an 'Instant'), OMG, I love this person. In an 'Instant' your whole world has changed! In an 'Instant' you have changed everything that 'shows up' in 'time' and you don't 'see' life like you did an 'Instant' earlier.

In an 'Instant' you uncover the distinction that 'you' are not a construct, a 'combination of characteristics', a concept. You uncover that there is something else going on here.

In an 'Instant' you uncover the distinction that who you are is 'Time' and that you are the never-ending 'Instants' unfolding as you uncover distinctions and make the choice "to be or not to be" the distinctions you uncover.

Dasein (be-ing there)
 
prothero
 
Reply Wed 5 May, 2010 10:33 am
@jeeprs,
jeeprs;159902 wrote:
Thanks, I read the Wikipedia entry. 'Gnomon' is a term I hadn't heard before but but I don't think it is related to gnosis. But never mind. As regards the OP, I think the intriguing idea to explore is the requirement for a sense of duration, from which any measure of time is derived. All of the times mentioned - planetary rotation, hourglasses, and even atomic clocks - somehow seem to require a witnessing consciousness which orders the sequence of events into past and future. Without the capacity for memory and expectation, or the comparison of one system here, with another system there, it is hard to see how 'time' could be said to exist.
.
I want someone to explain to me how, human consciousness could alter say
the process of radioactive decay
or
the orbit of the planets
or
formation and death of stars.
I just do not understand this concept at all? Is that what you are saying?
 
jeeprs
 
Reply Wed 5 May, 2010 08:11 pm
@qualia,
It is not that human consciousness could alter any of that. But time itself must be a function of the relationship between two systems or viewpoints. Our whole notion of time is based on earth-years, human lifespans, the length of the day, and so on.

Thought experiment: Imagine you were a mountain. It is highly unlikely you would be aware of humans, because they are so small, and move so quickly, that they would not be comprehensible in your time scales. But you would 'notice' rivers and glaciers because they are around for long enough to make an impression on you (literally).

Our whole conception of the nature of reality is based on our size, location, the location of our planet, the types of senses we have, and so on, and so on. You might say 'well if the human species were to vanish everything would just carry on'. On one level that is perfectly true, but what we are doing in this case is imagining everything carrying on, from the human viewpoint, but with nobody in it. It is a valid idea, but notice that it is only intelligible from a viewpoint. Nothing exists from no viewpoint, because from no viewpoint, it does not have size, dimension, duration, position or any of the other attributes which we assume are characteristic of any object or a scenario.

This has been discussed at length on the forum. It is actually very controversial, I have found. And I think the reason why it is controversial is because it is heretical - because the integrity, the reality, of the objective realm and the fact that it is 'mind-independent' is actually an article of faith. The reason it is an article of faith is because in the absence of God, 'cosmos is all there is', and Science is the process of gradually disclosing its extent. This is the religious sub-text of the secular view of life. People really rely on the idea of 'the mind-independent reality'. It gives them an intellectual framework, and to question it, causes a kind of vertigo. Which way is up? And those sorts of questions.

As I have suggested before, these questions have actually been thrown up by discoveries in QM, and Einstein, for one, found them very disturbing, for exactly the reason that I have just outlined. But he was never really able to resolve it. Fortunately for me, I don't have a professional stake in any of this, so I can afford to speculate. And that is all I am doing.
 
qualia
 
Reply Thu 6 May, 2010 07:10 pm
@jeeprs,
Pretty much working on what jeeprs has already said, I would argue the following. I think it is silly to say that things exist (chairs, ducks, black holes) only as long as we exist, for that amounts to claiming that when we are absent a thing would vanish or that reality is dependent upon it being encountered by a human.

But...if we were to vanish, then what would vanish from the world would be the ability to understand these things as we happen to understand them. Ideas such as 'chair', 'history', 'processes of radioactive decay, the orbit of the planets and formation and death of stars', would disappear to the extent that we have understood these things in these terms.

Under such circumstances, it could not be asserted that entities exist or that they do not, because quite simply there could be no assertion about such things. The only correct thing to say is that entities may exist as the entities they are, but it would not be possible to state anything, and so it could not be said that entities continue to be or not :shocked:
 
prothero
 
Reply Thu 6 May, 2010 08:30 pm
@qualia,
[QUOTE=jeeprs;160677] It is not that human consciousness could alter any of that. But time itself must be a function of the relationship between two systems or viewpoint. Our whole notion of time is based on earth-years, human life spans, the length of the day, and so on. [/QUOTE] Time as we perceive it; just as reality as we perceive it; are virtually by definition and fairly obviously dependent on the categories of human mind and human sense perception. It sounds however like you are after something more than that.

[QUOTE=jeeprs;160677] Thought experiment: Imagine you were a mountain. It is highly unlikely you would be aware of humans, because they are so small, and move so quickly, that they would not be comprehensible in your time scales. But you would 'notice' rivers and glaciers because they are around for long enough to make an impression on you (literally). [/QUOTE] Obviously there are scales of time just as there are scales of reality. The cosmic scale and the quantum scale are different than the intermediate scale in which we dwell. Solid stable objects for us are mostly empty space and in continuous flux on other scales. Cosmic deep time and quantum event time are not completely comprehensible to us and are foreign to us as we experience time. Time fundamentally however is change, and the rate of change can vary, our perception of it can vary, but for me primary reality is "becoming" events not matter, so from my perspective time is fundamental to reality.

[QUOTE=jeeprs;160677] Our whole conception of the nature of reality is based on our size, location, the location of our planet, the types of senses we have, and so on, and so on. You might say 'well if the human species were to vanish everything would just carry on'. On one level that is perfectly true, but what we are doing in this case is imagining everything carrying on, from the human viewpoint, but with nobody in it. It is a valid idea, but notice that it is only intelligible from a viewpoint. Nothing exists from no viewpoint, because from no viewpoint, it does not have size, dimension, duration, position or any of the other attributes which we assume are characteristic of any object or a scenario. [/QUOTE] I suppose I am suffering from my own worldview here. I do not think humans have all that great an influence on reality. I do not think humans are the purpose of the universe or the crown of creation. Interestingly enough, I think reality is perceptive to its core and that mind is a fundamental property of the universe, so I object; but for different reasons than many, I suppose.

[QUOTE=jeeprs;160677] This has been discussed at length on the forum. It is actually very controversial, I have found. And I think the reason why it is controversial is because it is heretical - because the integrity, the reality, of the objective realm and the fact that it is 'mind-independent' is actually an article of faith. The reason it is an article of faith is because in the absence of God, 'cosmos is all there is', and Science is the process of gradually disclosing its extent. This is the religious sub-text of the secular view of life. People really rely on the idea of 'the mind-independent reality'. It gives them an intellectual framework, and to question it, causes a kind of vertigo. Which way is up? And those sorts of questions. [/QUOTE] I do not believe in an objective realm separated from the realm of mind and perception. I think nature is perceptive to its very core, and primitive features of mind are ubiquitous in nature, and that there is rational intelligence behind nature.
I also think that fundamental reality is process, from which both mind and matter arise, and that process implies the inter-relatedness and perceptive ability of nature. Even the lowly electron perceives and has some degrees of freedom. Perhaps you can see how the notion of a static, dead, lifeless universe without human consciousness is as objectionable to me as the notion that the universe is basically a deterministic machine.

[QUOTE=jeeprs;160677] As I have suggested before, these questions have actually been thrown up by discoveries in QM, and Einstein, for one, found them very disturbing, for exactly the reason that I have just outlined. But he was never really able to resolve it. Fortunately for me, I don't have a professional stake in any of this, so I can afford to speculate. And that is all I am doing. [/QUOTE] Well, I suppose one of the functions of philosophy is to open our minds to other points of view and other ways of seeing things; to expand our realm of ideas and possibilities. I think we can choose to see the universe as dead, lifeless, inert, deterministic machine or as living perceptive enchanted mystery. I choose the latter.
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Thu 6 May, 2010 08:34 pm
@jeeprs,
jeeprs;159902 wrote:
T
This supports the idea that time itself is actually a function of consciousness. As Kant said.


What a peculiar thing to say! And before there was consciousness, how much time elapsed before there was consciousness? I am reminded of what G.E. Moore wrote in his autobiographical sketch. He said that what really attracted him to philosophy in the first place, and without which, he did not think he would have become interested in philosophy (and what still kept him interested in philosophy) were the very peculiar things that great philosophers would say that he (Moore) could see were not true. Moore said that even those philosophers knew those things were not true, and yet, that they sincerely believed they were. He found that simply fascinating. And, I must admit that when I find someone philosophizing who says something that he really could not believe was true since it was obviously not (like what Kant wrote) it is hard for me to avoid pointing that out. I suppose that is what gives me that trollish reputation around here that some think I deserve. Actually, it is just (innocent) astonishment that intelligent people can say stuff in philosophy that they really could not believe true (and do not believe true) in non-philosophical contexts.
 
jeeprs
 
Reply Thu 6 May, 2010 08:59 pm
@prothero,
prothero;161077 wrote:
I do not think humans have all that great an influence on reality. I do not think humans are the purpose of the universe or the crown of creation. Interestingly enough, I think reality is perceptive to its core and that mind is a fundamental property of the universe, so I object; but for different reasons than many, I suppose.


But isn't the way reality becomes 'perceptive to its core' is via human beings? Isn't this why humans are able to come up with a theory of the Universe and calculate its age, dimensions, constitution, etc, etc. Humans are the universe's way of coming to know itself. Have a look at The Anthropic Cosomological Principle by Barrow and Tipler (confession: have not read it myself, but am acquainted with some of the ideas in it.)

We seem to take comfort in the idea of being an infinitesmal speck in a vast ocean of time and space. But I think this is really 'the flight into insentience'. Weinberg says the more the universe is comprehensible, the more it seems pointless. It suits many people for it to be pointless. That's the point.

---------- Post added 05-07-2010 at 01:16 PM ----------

kennethamy;161080 wrote:
What a peculiar thing to say! And before there was consciousness, how much time elapsed before there was consciousness?


As I already quote above: When it comes to the universe as a whole, time loses its meaning, for there is nothing else relative to which the universe may be said to change. This 'vanishing' of time for the entire universe becomes very explicit in quantum cosmology, where the time variable simply drops out of the quantum description. It may readily be restored in the theory by considering the universe to be separated into two sub-systems: an observer with a clock, and the rest of the universe. So the observer plays an absolutely critical role in this respect. Linde [Andrei Linde, a physicist] expresses it graphically: "Thus we see that without introducing an observer, we have a dead universe, which does not evolve in time", and "we are together, the universe and us. The moment you say that the universe exists without any observers, I cannot make any sense out of this. I cannot imagine a consistent theory of everything that ignores consciousness...in the absence of observers, our universe is dead."

So don't take issue with me. Have a look at that Davies book I mentioned. I agree it is mind-bending, counter-intuitive. But there are many scientifically-inclined philosophers who support exactly this understanding of the nature of time.

I am not one of the people on the forum who wants to win an argument at all costs. That is not my main motivation. I agree this is mysterious, enigmatic, deep, and so on. I don't claim to have any final answers. I am just reading these types of books and thinking over these ideas. I am happy to have them challenged but I don't want to get into another big argument about it, like I did with Extrain the other week.
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Thu 6 May, 2010 09:51 pm
@jeeprs,
jeeprs;161086 wrote:
But isn't the way reality becomes 'perceptive to its core' is via human beings? Isn't this why humans are able to come up with a theory of the Universe and calculate its age, dimensions, constitution, etc, etc. Humans are the universe's way of coming to know itself. Have a look at The Anthropic Cosomological Principle by Barrow and Tipler (confession: have not read it myself, but am acquainted with some of the ideas in it.)

We seem to take comfort in the idea of being an infinitesmal speck in a vast ocean of time and space. But I think this is really 'the flight into insentience'. Weinberg says the more the universe is comprehensible, the more it seems pointless. It suits many people for it to be pointless. That's the point.

---------- Post added 05-07-2010 at 01:16 PM ----------



As I already quote above: When it comes to the universe as a whole, time loses its meaning, for there is nothing else relative to which the universe may be said to change. This 'vanishing' of time for the entire universe becomes very explicit in quantum cosmology, where the time variable simply drops out of the quantum description. It may readily be restored in the theory by considering the universe to be separated into two sub-systems: an observer with a clock, and the rest of the universe. So the observer plays an absolutely critical role in this respect. Linde [Andrei Linde, a physicist] expresses it graphically: "Thus we see that without introducing an observer, we have a dead universe, which does not evolve in time", and "we are together, the universe and us. The moment you say that the universe exists without any observers, I cannot make any sense out of this. I cannot imagine a consistent theory of everything that ignores consciousness...in the absence of observers, our universe is dead."

So don't take issue with me. Have a look at that Davies book I mentioned. I agree it is mind-bending, counter-intuitive. But there are many scientifically-inclined philosophers who support exactly this understanding of the nature of time.

I am not one of the people on the forum who wants to win an argument at all costs. That is not my main motivation. I agree this is mysterious, enigmatic, deep, and so on. I don't claim to have any final answers. I am just reading these types of books and thinking over these ideas. I am happy to have them challenged but I don't want to get into another big argument about it, like I did with Extrain the other week.


I cannot imagine a consistent theory of everything that ignores consciousness...in the absence of observers, our universe is dead.

Well that someone can or cannot imagine something is not exactly the touchstone of truth. The powers of imagination are notoriously subjective. You would be astonished by what some people claim they can (cannot) imagine. So any argument based on what a person happens to find imaginable seems to me pretty weak. Doesn't it to you. In the meantime, most scientists believe, dead or alive (whatever that means) things existed when consciousness did not exist. I think you said so too. Of course, it may very well be that what that chap means by the universe being dead in the absence of observers is that in the absence of observers, there is no consciousness. In which case what he is saying is that when the universe is dead, then the universe is dead. And I think all of us can agree with him (and anyone else who says that). Who doesn't think that a dead universe is a dead universe? Not I, I assure you. Or to reduce the purple of the passage that expresses that sentiment, what comes to the same thing in the writer's vocabulary, a universe without consciousness is a universe without consciousness. And I certainly agree with that too.
 
 

 
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