Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Essay outside of the NMT (No-Me Teaching) series 19 b
Quantum Reality Time 6 - metaphysical C:
Egocentric Presentism – other persons can be conscious, but their experiences are simply not present. Similarly, in related work, Hare argues for a theory of Perspectival Realism in which other perspectives do exist, but the present perspective has a defining intrinsic property. In one example that Hare uses to illustrate his theory, you learn that you are 1 of 2 people, named A & B, who have just been in a train crash; and that A is about to have incredibly painful surgery. You cannot remember your name. Naturally, you hope to be B. The point of the example is that you know everything relevant that there is to know about the objective world; all that is missing is your position in it, that is, whose experiences are present, A's or B's. This example is easily handled by egocentric Presentism because under this theory, the case where the present experiences are A's is fundamentally different from the case where the present experiences are B's. Hare points out that similar examples can be given to support theories like Presentism  in the philosophy of time. Perspectival Realism, there is a defining intrinsic property that the things that are in perceptual awareness have. Consider seeing object A but not object B. Of course, we can say that the visual experience of A is present to you, and no visual experience of B is present to you. But, it can be argued, this misses the fact that the visual experience of A is simply present, not relative to anything. This is what Perspectival Realism attempts to capture, resulting in a weak version of metaphysical Solipsism.
Same type of argument is often used in the philosophy of time to support theories such as Presentism. Of course, we can say that A is happening on [insert today's date]. But, it can be argued, this misses the fact that A is simply happening (right now), not relative to anything.
Theory of Relativity:  the conceptual Observer is at a geometric point in both Space & time at the apex of the “light cone” which observes events laid out in Time as well as Space. Different Observers can disagree on whether 2 events at different locations occurred simultaneously depending if the observers are in relative motion. This theory depends upon the idea of Time as an extended thing & has been confirmed by experiment, thus giving rise to a philosophical viewpoint known as 4-dimensionalism. However, although the contents of an Observation are time-extended, the conceptual Observer, being a geometric point at the origin of the Light Cone, is not extended in Time or Space. This analysis contains a paradox in which the conceptual Observer “contains nothing”, even though any real Observer would need to be the extended contents of an Observation to exist. This paradox is partially resolved in Relativity theory by defining a “frame of reference” to encompass the measuring instruments used by an Observer. This reduces the Time separation between instruments to a set of constant intervals.
Some of the difficulties & paradoxes of Presentism can be resolved by changing the normal view of Time as a “container” or thing unto itself & seeing Time as a measure of changing spatial relationships among objects; thus observers need not be extended in Time to exist & be aware, but rather they exist & the changes in internal relationships within the Observer can be measured by stable countable events.
According to the Growing Block Universe theory of Time (or the growing block view), the Past & Present exist & the Future does not exist. The Present is an objective property, to be compared with a “moving spotlight”. By the passage of Time more of the World comes into being, therefore the Block Universe is said to be growing. The Present is supposed to be the place where this is supposed to happen, a very thin slice of Space-Time, where more of Space-Time is coming into being.
The Growing Block View is an alternative to both Eternalism (according to which Past, Present, & Future all exist) & Presentism (according to which only the Present exists). It is held to be closer to common-sense intuitions than the alternatives.
Recently several philosophers have said that if the Growing Block View is correct we have to say that we don't know whether Now is Now. (The first occurrence of "Now" is an indexical & the 2nd occurrence of "Now" is the “objective tensed property.” The term implies the sentence: "This part of Space-Time has the property of being Present".)
If people are talking in the Past, & at the same time thinking that “this” (their discussion) is occurring “Now”, the according to the Growing Block View, Tense is a real property of the World so their thought is about “Now” they think, tenselessly, that their thought is occurring on the “edge of being” their own objective Present. But we know they are wrong, because they are in the Past. They don't know that Now is Now. But how can we be sure we are not in the same position? Therefore we don't know whether Now is Now.
However, some have argued that there is an Ontological distinction between the Past & the Present. For instance, they argue that although there exists a Past, it is lifeless & inactive. Consciousness, as well as the Flow of Time is not active within the Past & can only occur at the boundary of the Block Universe in which the Present exists.
Eternalism is a philosophical approach to the Ontological nature of Time, which takes the view that all points in Time are equally "real", as opposed to the Presentist idea that only the Present is real. Modern advocates often take inspiration from the way Time is modeled as a Space-Time dimension in SR (Special-Relativity), giving Time an Ontology (property of existence) similar to that of Space. But the basic idea of Eternalism dates back at least to McTaggart's “B-theory” of “untensed time”.
This would mean that Time is just another dimension, that Future events are "already there", & that there is no objective Flow of Time. It is sometimes referred to as the "Block Time" or "Block Universe" theory due to its description of Space-Time as an unchanging 4dimensional "Block", as opposed to the view of the World as a simply being a 3dimensional Space modulated by the passage of Time.
Conventionally, Time is divided into three distinct regions; the "Past", the "Present", & the "Future". Using that Representational model, the Past is generally seen as being immutably fixed, & the Future as undefined & nebulous. As Time passes, the moment that was once the Present becomes part of the Past; & Part of the future, in turn, becomes the new Present. In this way, Time is said to pass, with a distinct present moment "moving" forward into the Future & leaving the Past behind.
Within this intuitive understanding of Time is the philosophy of Presentism, which argues that only the Present exists. It does not travel forward through an environment of Time, moving from a real point in the Past & toward a real point in the Future. Instead, the Present simply changes. The Past & Future do not exist & are only concepts used to describe the real, isolated, & changing present.
This conventional model presents a number of difficult philosophical problems, & seems difficult to reconcile with currently accepted scientific theories such as SR the theory of Special-Relativity.
Special-Relativity suggests that the concept of simultaneity is not universal. Observers in different frames of reference can have different perceptions of whether a given pair of events happened at the same time or at different times, with there being no physical basis for preferring one frame's judgments over another's (though in a case where one event A happens in the Past Light Cone of another event B), all frames will agree that A happened in the Past of B. So, in Special Relativity there can be no physical basis for picking out a unique set of events that are all happening simultaneously in "the Present".
Presentists have responded in the way that a Presentist could deny Naturalism. Such denial could take different forms. One could, claim that SR is not a theory about Time but about something else instead. Alternatively, one could retort by accepting that SR speaks to the geometry of space-time but reject that this has any Ontological import. Then, a Presentist might reject SR-Realism, simply asserting that SR is not approximately true of the World. Also, considerations from Quantum Mechanics can be invoked in an attempt to establish that SR is false or incomplete insofar as it lacks an absolute, privileged Frame of Reference.
Presentist might simply accept that SR offers a perfectly empirically adequate theory, but to insist that Absolute Simultaneity still exists. It is just that we cannot possibly detect the privileged Frame of Reference which determines the Present. In other words, Absolute Simultaneity is not empirically accessible. Metaphysics fully relies on postulated extra-structure that can't even in principle be observed. It violates Ockham's Razor so that the move cannot be justified by putting some post-verificationist Philosophy of Science on one's flag.
However, there are some, argued that it is possible to accept the physical predictions of Special Relativity while adopting an alternative interpretation of the theory in which there is a single privileged Frame whose judgments about Length, Time, & Simultaneity are the "true" ones, even though there would be absolutely no empirical way to distinguish this Frame from other frames, & no real experience could identify it.
When appealing to findings from empirically well-grounded disciplines, philosophers face a strong temptation to overstate their case — especially if their philosophical opponents can be relied on to be relatively innocent of new developments in the relevant science. I fear that some B-theorists have succumbed to the temptation, judging by the relish with which they often pronounce a verdict based on Relativity. They can practically hear the crunch of the lowly metaphysician’s armor giving way, as they bring the full force of incontrovertible physical fact down upon our A-theoretically-addled heads. But what actually hits us, and how hard is the blow? SR is false; GR’s future is highly uncertain; and the Presentist’s conflict with either version of Relativity is shallow, since the Presentist’s manifold can satisfy the same geometrical description as a B-theorist’s manifold, and afford explanations of all the same phenomena in precisely the same style. In these circumstances, how could appeal to SR or GR justify the frequent announcements that the A-theory–B-theory dispute has been “settled by physics, not philosophy”?
While the present is intuitively understood as the object that moves through the environment of time, it is common to also describe time as an object that moves, in the same way that a passenger on a train perceives the environment passing by. This perception of the passage or flow of time can can be confused with the previous idea of the present moving through time, leading to the misunderstanding that time is moving through time, i.e., that it is moving through itself. This illogical premise can lead to circular questions asking how fast time travels per unit of Time.

The concept of "Time passing" can be considered to be internally inconsistent, by asking "how much time goes by in an hour?" The question "how fast does Time pass" seems to have no satisfactory answer, in which answers such as "a second per second" would be, as some would argue, circular and thus false. In addition, even if we do accept the above answer, then the statement "a second per second" can be expressed as a fraction which is always equal to "one". But this "one" has no meaning beyond being a number and is thus also the wrong kind of answer. Therefore, the argument goes, the rate of the passage of Time is nonsensical.

The above themes & 1600 pages more are freely available as perused or downloaded PDF’s, the sole occupants of a Public Microsoft Skydrive “Public Folder” accessible through:

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"There is no Creation, no Destruction, no Bondage, no longing to be freed from Bondage, no striving for Liberation, nor anyone who has attained Liberation. Know that this to be Ultimate Truth."    the "no creation" school of Gaudapada, Shankara, Ramana, Nome  Ajata Vada

for very succinct summary of the teaching & practice, see:  www.ajatavada.com/

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