Sunday, July 30, 2017

Essay outside of the NMT (No-Me Teaching) series 18
Quantum Reality 3 (cont) Time 4 physics B – metaphysical A:
The previous discussion of Linguistic Tense (which also continues) compares to Metaphysical Tense in McTaggart’s A-series (mentioned below). More closely allied to his B-series are more relative than absolute references to Time. Expressions in the vein of the more relative expressions include “earlier than”, “extended”, “punctual”, :coinciding with”, occuring wholly within”, “partially overlapping with”. In this B-series there is no strict marker indicating the Present moment, but a range of Time may include the Present moment if it is currently ongoing.
To say someone “dances” [present perfect] is to locate an ongoing event in a Time period that includes the Present. To say someone danced [simple past] is to locate an event in the Past as completed. Both statements concern the Past but the former describes an event in terms of its temporal constituency: habitual, continuous, ongoing, progressive or non-progressive, having or lacking continued relevance to Present moment. In this way such “perfect” Tenses are combinations of Tense & Aspect which relates the even to some other (unstated) reference point. To say “will have been dancing” [future perfect] locates an ongoing Future event earlier than some additional reference point. To say “has been dancing” [pluperfect] locates an even in the Past, earlier than an additional reference point.
When the Aspect is concerned with internal temporal constituency (A-series) of events & also the temporal relational network (B-series) in which events & times stand to each other, then unlike Tense the expression is non-deictic. When the internal temporal constituency of event, or relation it stands in to other events & times, is independent of its Time & Tense relation (B-series) to a Present moment, then the elements of Aspect combined with elements of Tense produce an overall deictic result even though the Aspect is non-deictic. [enough of all that bewildering babble]
Now besides Grammatical Tense, there are diverse other ways of locating events in Time if different languages. Time location can be indicated with tone, adjectives, nouns with verb endings, & even hand position in some concept-based sign languages, such as British.
There are various parts of speech that express Time & temporal location, including Adjectives like past, present, future, but also: brand-new, old, fledgling, mint [condition], experimental, modern, latter-day, up-to-date, topical, traditional, ancient, bygone, obsolete, elapsed, brief, outgoing, punctual, eventual, venerable. Then there are Nouns like: date, hour, millennium, epoch, morning, day, week, year, season, etc. Some such Nouns are proper names like: January , Thursday , etc., or general notions like: tenure, period, interim, lull, interlude, adjournment, perpetuity, delay, aftermath, successor, occasion, relic, fossil. Then there are Prepositions like: during, throughout, until, up to, before, after, since; & Conjunctions like: when, whenever, while; & other items that function as Prepositions like: until, before, after, since. There are parts of words, or affixes that express Time relationships through Prefixes like: ante-, proto-, pre-, post-, ex-, fore-, re-(as in re-build), neo-, palaeo-; & also causative suffixes, such as -en (as in frighten) & -ify (as in beautify).
There are also tenseless languages like various Southeast Asian languages including Chinese. This means that in such languages the expression of the temporal relation between the event & speech act is not grammaticalized. But as we have seen, this means of referring to the temporal location of an event is but a small subset of the ways in which a grammatical Tense can be deictic, that is: involving implicit reference to the moment of utterance. Tenses can be imprecise & insensitive to degrees of pastness & futurity. Other linguistic resources, in both deictic & non-deictic terms, can provide information about the temporal contours of events & relations between them.
So much for a sketch of Grammatical Tense & its alternatives. All that must be separated from the other issue of Metaphysical Tense which concerns Quantum Reality & the Philosophy of Science in general.
Metaphysical Tense deals with temporal reality as location in the Past, Present, or Future. A simple date like “Sep 11, 2001” doesn’t pick out Tense, it doesn’t specify where “we are” temporally, in the scenario. A term like “ago” picks out Tense, referring to the Past, in a manner of “non-relational” tenses, giving properties of Pastness, Presentness, & Futurity in a less explicit way.
One key Metaphysical question surrounding these issues is regards strict Scientific Realism:Had humans (or observers of any kind) never evolved, would threw have been an objectively Present moment, & absolute distinction between Past, Present, & Future? The Yes or No answer to that question is one way to distinguish 2 major points of view regarding Tense & Time.
Those who think Tenses are real think there would have been such a distinction, even in the absence of any perceivers to designate events as Past, Present, or Future.
Those who think Tenses are not real think that temporal reality is constituted merely by the network of temporal relations in which events & times stand to each other, with no Time being marked out as an ontologically privileged Present moment (meaning it has special status). In other words, no distinction between Past, Present, & Future is characteristic of Time; no distinction is so projected onto Time, from our perspective.
The (A-theorist) holding to an Observer-Independent distinction between Past, Present, & Future see Time flowing inexorably with respect Present moment distinction. The ontological privilege of being the objective Present moment continually passes from one moment to next. In this sense the A-series is dynamic.
Philosopher, John M. E. McTaggart’s 2-part ordering of positions in Time: into an (A-series) [with tenses & meta-time] is a Metaphysical rather than grammatical Tense distinction. Times are thereby ordered in regard to relative positions in Past, Present, & Future. The (A-series) of positions run from distant Past, through ever-less-distant Pastness, to Present, to proximate (near) Future, & on through to ever-more-remote Future, a Continuum with a distinct, though ever-shifting Present zero-point Origin in its 1-D Space.
In contrast, McTaggart’s (B-series)is less ordered, with Moments distinguished only into relative positions to each other, in a series from earlier to later. The (B-theorists) hold to no objective distinction between Past, Present, Future. For them there is no objective flow of Time. The ordinary distinction we draw between Past, Present, & Future is explained as as a Projection (what philosopher Immanuel Kant called it) with which we perceive reality from an mindimposed temporal perspective, by which we locate events in our Past, Present, & Future. They would say we wrongly project that perspective on Time itself, mistakenly concluding that events are Past, Present, or Future, independent of our knowledge or existence. For (B-theorists) there is no associated temporal flow, no ontological privilege bestowed upon a Present moment, no such “privilege” as passes from one moment to the next for the (A-series).
The (B-theorists) admit no genuine A-properties in the World, such as: being Past, being Present, being Future, & of finer gradations between them. They do hold to the existence of analogous properties in the World that would be reducible to, analyzable in terms of B-relations such as: being earlier than , being simultaneous with, being later than. It just doesn’t work that way for the (B-theorists).
For the (A-theorists) times & events are constantly change with respect to those A-properties they possess, their futurity, which they shed to acquire Presentness, which is instantly shed to acquire Pastness. This acquiring & shedding of A-properties is, for (A-theorists), the passage of Time.
For the (B-theorists), there are no A-properties in the World. Their B-series consists only of temporal relations of Precedence, Succession, & Simultaneity.
In one modified (B-series), a “present moment” is added to the pattern of events to capture some of what the A-theory thinks Time is like. But for the (A-theorist), the (B-series) lacks their essential feature of time, the true distinction between Past, Present, & Future, so it would add this feature to the B-series to generate an A-series. Thus different kinds of linguistic expression for locating events in Time (as reviewed previously for Grammatical Linguistic Tense) can also be used to represent Time as conceived Metaphysically by the A-theory & the B-theory, given the proper additions or subtractions.
There is thus a correlation between different kinds of linguistic expression on the one hand, & the different Metaphysical views of the nature of Time on the other hand. But this correlation cannot resolve the Metaphysical debate about the nature of Time. We previously noted that some linguistic
Expressions of temporal location were deictic that is with reference point in Time that is dependent on context in which the expression is used. If we pick out & refer to some feature of context of utterance, [here, you, I, me, over there, that one, the next one], such can be deictic in Grammatical Tense. Such context locates the temporal event that a sentence is about. It is labeled with some time relative to the time of utterance. Thus the meaning of grammatically tensed sentences is dependent on the temporal context in which they are uttered. Those previously mentioned lexical items like now, today, yesterday, & tomorrow locate the event at a particular Time in an A-series. The infinite number of additional lexically composite expressions in an (A-series) further diversify a “tensed sentence” that is grammatically tensed.
In some sentences, however, there can be non-deictic expressions for locating events in Time, such as: after dinner, moments before, at the start of, or any kind of date. Those non-deictic expressions convey no information about (A-series) locations. But a combination of non-deictic expression with deictic expression does amount to a net deictic expression with information regarding the (A-series) location of event.
In isolation however, the deictic quality correlate with the (A-series), whereas the non-deictic correlates with the (B-series). But again, any series of temporal positions in continual transformation, imply temporal perspective of the person uttering, & thus constitutes an (A-series) ordering of events. Contrariwise, ordering a series of temporal positions by way of 2-term relations that are asymmetric, irreflexive, & transitive, such as: "comes before" (precedes) & "comes after" (follows) accords with the (B-series) of Time.

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