Posts tagged ‘philosophy of time’

November 25th, 2013

Might Some of Doctor Who actually be Possible?

by Max Andrews

The following is an article my PhD mentor, Alasdair Richmond, wrote for The Conversation

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As Doctor Who’s 50th anniversary looms, time travel is everywhere – on the screen, at least. Famously, the Doctor can whizz through the years using a “dimensionally transcendental” machine, the TARDIS, and make changes to the past as and when he likes. But what is time travel – and how much of “Doctor Who” might really be possible?

A handy definition of time travel comes from philosopher David Lewis. Lewis says time travel involves a journey having different durations viewed from outside (in “external time”) or from inside (in “personal time”). Suppose you spend five minutes travelling aboard your machine, as measured by (e.g.) your watch and your memories. On arrival, you find 150 years have elapsed in the outside world. Congratulations, you have time-travelled. Five minutes of your personal time has covered 150 years of external time.

October 3rd, 2013

Q&A 34: Thomas Aquinas’ Understanding of Creation and Time

by Max Andrews

Question:

Hey Max I have a few questions about your cosmological argument from Thomas Aquinas:

(1) Did Aquinas believe in creation out of nothing?

(2) Did Aquinas believe that the universe existed eternally side by side with God even though it was contingent?

Also, how can be God be timeless on the view that the universe did not begin to exist? If God’s relation to the universe is always present, would that not imply an eternal relation of God with the universe, which would involve time itself? It is difficult for me to make sense of how God could be timeless on this view and not simply temporal.

Thanks,

Ben Williamson

Answer:

Hi Ben,

Here’s the short answers:

1) Yes.

2) I don’t think Thomas would phrase it that way but Thomas is okay with a creation that has existed for an infinite duration in the past–emphasizing the radical contingency.

June 21st, 2013

Classical Electrodynamics and Absolute Simultaneity

by Max Andrews

Below is the abstract from Ben Nasmith’s paper “Classical Electrodynamics and Absolute Simultaneity”. I’m quite pleased to say that I was able to be an official endorser for Nasmith’s paper to arXiv. Please feel free to investigate and enjoy this research.

Maxwell’s equations and the Lorentz force density are expressed using an alternative simultaneity gauge. As a result, they describe electrodynamics for an observer travelling with a constant velocity through an isotropic medium.

June 9th, 2013

The Philosophy of Science Directory

by Max Andrews

This is a compilation of posts, which focus on the philosophy of science. These posts will cover a broad spectrum within the philosophy of science ranging from multiverse scenarios, scientific theory, epistemology, and metaphysics.

  1. MA Philosophy Thesis: “The Fine-Tuning of Nomic Behavior in Multiverse Scenarios”
  2. Natural Law and Scientific Explanation
  3. Science and Efficient Causation
  4. Which Comes First, Philosophy or Science?
  5. The Postulates of Special Relativity
  6. There’s No Such Thing as Creation Science–There’s Just Science
  7. Time Travel and Bilking Arguments
  8. “It’s Just a Theory”–What’s a Scientific Theory?
  9. Exceptions to a Finite Universe
  10. Teleology in Science
  11. Duhemian Science
  12. The Relationship Between Philosophy and Science
  13. The History of the Multiverse and the Philosophy of Science
  14. Where’s the Line of Demarcation Between Science and Pseudoscience?
  15. Miracles and the Modern Worldview
  16. Mass-Density Link Simpliciter
  17. Scientific Nihilism
  18. Q&A 10: The Problem of Defining Science
  19. Q&A 6: Scientism and Inference to the Best Explanation
  20. The Quantum Universe and the Universal Wave Function
  21. The History and Macro-Ontology of the Many Worlds Interpretation of Quantum Physics
    read more »

April 30th, 2013

Q&A 20: Does God Know Infinite Sets and Can God Learn Anything?

by Max Andrews

Question:

 Max,

I have a question regarding God being all-knowing in light of the impossibility of an actual infinite set.
I assume the following premises:
·         God knows all true propositions of past, present and future.
·         God does not learn anything but has always known everything. If He was to learn something that would imply there was something He did not know, which would mean He is not all-knowing.
·         It is impossible to contain or hold an infinite set because such an action would imply that it is finite instead of infinite.
Are these three premises valid? If they are, does it follow that the number of events in the future are finite? If so, how does that cohere with the belief that we will be in relation with God for all eternity?

Bill Clute

February 5th, 2013

The Thomistic Doctrine of Creatio Continuans

by Max Andrews

Traditionally, there are two models for how God preserves the existence of the universe.  The first is creatio originans (originating creation), which suggests that there has been one initial act of creation and God conserves that reality through a temporal duration.  Consider the following definition.

D1. God conserves e if and only if God acts upon e to bring about e’s enduring from t until some t* > t through every subinterval of the interval t –> t*.[1]

Thomas Aquinas de-temporalizes creatio ex nihilo.[2]  Thus, Thomas is not very concerned with divine conservation as described above since he does not offer a tensed version of creation nor does he differentiate between conservation and creation.[3]  Thomas’ model of creatio continuans (continual creation) can therefore be depicted as:

D2. God continuously creates x = def. x is a persistent thing, and, for all t, if x exists at t, then at t God creates x.[4]

Thomas certainly seems to make a commitment to creatio continuans given his doctrine of simplicity (since timeless follows).  However, Thomas tries to have the best of both doctrines by suggesting that God acts within creation and creation was within time yet, in turn, adopt a model of timelessness.  Thomas argues that the creation of things was in the beginning of time.  For Genesis 1 to include, “In the beginning God created heaven and earth” suggests that beginning connotes time.[5]

January 8th, 2013

Time Travel and Bilking Arguments

by Max Andrews

In this chapter (Paul Horwich, “Time Travel” in Asymmetries in Time: Problems in the Philosophy of Science (Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 1987), 111-128.) Horwich discusses Gödelian time travel. He defends Gödel’s claim against the objection that time travel, as he envisions it, cannot occur since it would engender anomalous consequences. He then briefly deals with arguments for a Gödelian spacetime, which entails a closed universe and closed timelines. He then defends issues about anomalous changes and bilking arguments dealing with backwards causation. He concludes his arguments with a defense of Gödel’s thesis that there is a real possibility of trips to the spatially distant past (128).

As appears in Alasdair Richmond, ‘Gödelian Time-Travel and Anthropic Cosmology’, Ratio (New Series), XVII, 2004, 176-190

As appears in Alasdair Richmond, ‘Gödelian Time-Travel and Anthropic Cosmology’, Ratio (New Series), XVII, 2004, 176-190

August 6th, 2012

Nothing is in Time

by Max Andrews

J.M.E. McTaggart provides an objection to the A series of time but suggesting that it may be true that past, present, and future are mere illusions of the mind.[1]  McTaggart dismisses the argument’s subjectivity of time by simply defining it out of existence.

McTaggart’s Argument:

1. Anything existent can either possess the characteristic of being in time or the characteristic of not being in time.

2. Anything existent does not possess the characteristic of being in time [due to subjective references, a lack of indexing events from moment to moment or changing, etc.]

3.  Therefore, anything existent does not possess the characteristic of being in time (time is illusory).

The objection to the A series by the subjectivity of the individual mind is not so easy to dismiss as McTaggart seems to do.  With advances in relativity theory this objection may have phenomenological credibility.  Though McTaggart’s rejection of the argument is correct, there are better reasons for opposing the argument of the mind’s subjective relationship to time.[2]

June 20th, 2012

Word of the Week Wednesday: A Series of Time

by Max Andrews

Word of the Week: A Series of Time

Definition: Time has an actual temporal becoming to it.  There is an objective past, present, and future.

More about the word:  The special theory of relativity (STR) states that clocks in motion slow down.  This time dilation occurs with respects to the observer.  In the early 1900’s, Albert Einstein’s STR changed how physicists and philosophers viewed the previous Newtonian paradigm of absolute simultaneity.  If STR is correct, then an observer in motion will experience time at a slower rate than an observer at rest.  Perhaps, given STR, the A series of time is really illusory since the experience of time is relative to the subject (the object being the spacetime fabric).

STR may still permit an A series of time where the subject’s experience of objective becoming is supported by the object’s relation to the subject.  There are two concurrent ways this may be done:  Lorentzian simultaneity (from the physical approach) and God as the prime reality (from the metaphysical approach).  Hendrick Lorentz proposed the idea that time and length are absolute but there is no way these measurements could be made since the measuring devices are in motion.

May 15th, 2012

Creatio Originans and Time

by Max Andrews

The doctrine of creatio originans refers to God’s original conservation of creation–a sustaining causal relationship.  This doctrine typically entails an A theory of time.

A theory of time (dynamic):  The ultimate reality of time is tensed (God is in time)

B theory of time (static):  The ultimate reality of time is atemporal (God is outside of time)

The doctrine of creation implies an A theory of time (dynamic, tensed). If one adopts B theory of time, then things do not literally come into existence.  The whole four-dimensional  spacetime manifold exists coeternally with God.

Creatio continuans entails a B theory (a continual creation). According to B theory, all events are equally real. Yesterday is just as real as tomorrow and exist in the same moment. If creatio orignans fails, can B theory make more sense of conservation?

Can God act tenselessly on e to sustain it from t1 to t2 [a time interval]