Is Time Just an Idea?

Discuss any topics related to metaphysics (the philosophical study of the principles of reality) or epistemology (the philosophical study of knowledge) in this forum.
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Terrapin Station
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Re: Is Time Just an Idea?

Post by Terrapin Station » January 15th, 2020, 4:02 pm

RJG wrote:
January 15th, 2020, 2:00 pm
An example: Some here claim that "without motion there can be no time".
I'm someone who says this. Not because I'm parroting anything from the sciences.
I presented logical proof that this is "backwards",
I didn't see that, but it wouldn't make any sense for what I'm saying.

What I'm saying is that without motion (well, or change) there can be no time AND without time there can be no motion (or change) because they're the same thing. Time IS motion/change.

Anyway, which post of yours had your logical proof? I'd be interested in reading it. Can you give me just the first few words or something (and then I can do a search for that text string and find the post).

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Re: Is Time Just an Idea?

Post by RJG » January 15th, 2020, 4:15 pm

Thomyum2 wrote:My sense is that we have different underlying assumptions and unspoken understandings about the nature of our fundamental existence which have implications for how we explain our inner experiences. I think that perhaps when we try to explain the concepts abstractly without first laying out the foundations we place underneath them, we're talking past each other because we're not speaking from a shared point of understanding...

...But our different angles in looking at the universe and our experience in it can be manifested as thinking one way or the other. Does this make sense to anyone?
Very good points. I can't disagree.

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Re: Is Time Just an Idea?

Post by Steve3007 » January 15th, 2020, 4:19 pm

An incidental point. In a recent post, the following quotes were made, giving the impression that the second quote was a question about the first:
RJG wrote:It appears to me, that there is way too much "clinging to Science" in these "Philosophy" forum discussions, while "closing eyes to Simple Logic.
Steve3007 wrote:What should others do if they see somebody apparently "clinging" to those false assertions?
This was a misrepresentation of the post from which the second quote was taken.

viewtopic.php?p=346014#p346014

The post said this:
Steve3007 wrote:Where do you go if you want to make assertions, which turn out to be false, as to what "science" says in order to claim that it defies logic?
What should others do if they see somebody apparently "clinging" to those false assertions?
Clearly I was referring to your own false assertions. By selective quoting, you gave the incorrect impression that I was referring to "clinging to Science". Please do not misrepresent my words like this.

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Re: Is Time Just an Idea?

Post by RJG » January 15th, 2020, 4:32 pm

RJG wrote:Some here claim that "without motion there can be no time".

...I presented logical proof that this is "backwards",
Terrapin Station wrote:I'm someone who says this...

….Anyway, which post of yours had your logical proof?
Here it is:
  • P1. From a geometric perspective:
    • A 0D "point" cannot move/change without a 1st dimension.
      A 1D "line" cannot move/change without a 2nd dimension.
      A 2D "plane" cannot move/change without a 3rd dimension.
      A 3D "object" cannot move/change without a 4th dimension.
    P2. The 4th dimension is called "Time".
    C1. Therefore, "Without Time, there can be no Motion (of 3D objects)" is logically TRUE.
    C2. Therefore, "Without Motion, there can be no Time" is logically FALSE.

Logical Certainties:
Time is independent of Motion.
Motion is dependent on Time.

Also, falsely equating "Time" as "change" is one of the other ERRORS being committed in these discussions. Time is NOT "change". Time is just a 'dimension' that allows (i.e. is the 'means') for change. Without Time, there can be no change/motion. (and not the other way around either).

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Re: Is Time Just an Idea?

Post by Terrapin Station » January 15th, 2020, 5:03 pm

RJG wrote:
January 15th, 2020, 4:32 pm
RJG wrote:Some here claim that "without motion there can be no time".

...I presented logical proof that this is "backwards",
Terrapin Station wrote:I'm someone who says this...

….Anyway, which post of yours had your logical proof?
Here it is:
  • P1. From a geometric perspective:
    • A 0D "point" cannot move/change without a 1st dimension.
      A 1D "line" cannot move/change without a 2nd dimension.
      A 2D "plane" cannot move/change without a 3rd dimension.
      A 3D "object" cannot move/change without a 4th dimension.
    P2. The 4th dimension is called "Time".
    C1. Therefore, "Without Time, there can be no Motion (of 3D objects)" is logically TRUE.
    C2. Therefore, "Without Motion, there can be no Time" is logically FALSE.

Logical Certainties:
Time is independent of Motion.
Motion is dependent on Time.

Also, falsely equating "Time" as "change" is one of the other ERRORS being committed in these discussions. Time is NOT "change". Time is just a 'dimension' that allows (i.e. is the 'means') for change. Without Time, there can be no change/motion. (and not the other way around either).
Oh--I did see that. The proof doesn't work because you're reifying mathematical representations. Mathematical objects aren't real ontological things. Motion or change is a real ontological thing. Mathematics is a conceptual way to represent the way we think about relations.

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Re: Is Time Just an Idea?

Post by RJG » January 15th, 2020, 5:52 pm

Terrapin Station wrote:Oh--I did see that. The proof doesn't work because you're reifying mathematical representations. Mathematical objects aren't real ontological things.
There are no "mathematical objects" here. 3D objects and Dimensions are real. The logical relationship of these objects is valid, and therefore the proof is "sound".

Terrapin Station wrote:Motion or change is a real ontological thing.
Motion or change of WHAT? ...of a (non-real) "mathematical representation"??? ...or of a 'real' 3D object? -- "Motion/change" can't be "real", unless there is something 'real' that moves/changes. Non-real things can't move!

Furthermore, for your "real" motion or change to "occur" (hint hint), Time is needed. The word "occur" (a 'temporal' word) should be an immediate RED-FLAG indicator to this logical certainty.

Terrapin Station wrote:The proof doesn't work because you're reifying mathematical representations.
This "dismissive" type statement is without any rationality (or relevancy) to the logical proof.

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Re: Is Time Just an Idea?

Post by Terrapin Station » January 15th, 2020, 6:02 pm

RJG wrote:
January 15th, 2020, 5:52 pm
Terrapin Station wrote:Oh--I did see that. The proof doesn't work because you're reifying mathematical representations. Mathematical objects aren't real ontological things.
There are no "mathematical objects" here. 3D objects and Dimensions are real. The logical relationship of these objects is valid, and therefore the proof is "sound".
You're talking about points, lines, etc. Those are not real. They're mental abstractions we've constructed based on how we think about relations.

Terrapin Station wrote:Motion or change is a real ontological thing.
RJG wrote:Motion or change of WHAT? ...of a (non-real) "mathematical representation"??? ...or of a 'real' 3D object? -- "Motion/change" can't be real, unless there is something 'real' that moves/changes.
There doesn't have to be some solitary thing that changes (from x into y). If we have an object that disappears and is replaced by a different object, then we have a change, but not a solitary thing that's changing.

Furthermore, for your "real" motion or change to "occur" (hint hint), Time is needed.
Time is IDENTICAL to motion/change. That's what time is.

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Re: Is Time Just an Idea?

Post by RJG » January 15th, 2020, 6:13 pm

Terrapin Station wrote:You're talking about points, lines, etc. Those are not real. They're mental abstractions we've constructed based on how we think about relations.
So then the mental abstractions we call "3D objects" are not real either? ...you need to stay consistent.

RJG wrote:Motion or change of WHAT? ...of a (non-real) "mathematical representation"??? ...or of a 'real' 3D object? -- "Motion/change" can't be "real", unless there is something 'real' that moves/changes. Non-real things can't move!
Terrapin Station wrote:There doesn't have to be some solitary thing that changes (from x into y). If we have an object that disappears and is replaced by a different object, then we have a change, but not a solitary thing that's changing.
This is a logical self-contradiction. Is this "object" real? ...or not-real? ...you can't have it BOTH ways. It is logically impossible for the "change" of NOTHING (of non-real objects) to "occur". -- If NOTHING is changing, then there is NO CHANGING.

Terrapin Station wrote:Time is IDENTICAL to motion/change. That's what time is.
Not logically possible. -- for "Without Time, there can be no Motion (of 3D objects)"

Logical Certainties:
Time is independent of Motion.
Motion is dependent on Time.

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Re: Is Time Just an Idea?

Post by Steve3007 » January 15th, 2020, 6:40 pm

I think propositions like "objects are real" and its opposite, "objects are not real", are purely metaphysical wordplay, which are neither testable by observation nor are they analytic propositions that elucidate logical certainties. They have no useful content.

Objects are, by definition, the things to which objective propositions refer. Objective propositions aim to describe and predict patterns in sets of related sensations using the concept of an object. Dimensions are mathematical concepts that we create to quantify the positions and movements of these objects which we hypothesize to describe and predict our sensations. In the absence of any sensations which we attribute to objects, the concept of a dimension would be meaningless. The concepts of time and space would be meaningless.

But obviously we are not in the absence of such sensations and cannot imagine such a thing.

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Re: Is Time Just an Idea?

Post by Greta » January 15th, 2020, 7:19 pm

Steve3007 wrote:
January 15th, 2020, 7:48 am
Greta wrote:Not every action, just cyclical ones. Cyclical actions make natural clocks.
Good point. Although no event ever exactly reiterates a previous event, whereby the only difference is its position in time. So, as ever, it's up to the process of Induction, applied to large sets of experiences, to define what constitutes a cyclical process and mathematically idealise it ("assume the horse is spherical"). Just as it's up to Induction, applied to large numbers of "clocks", to define what constitutes what Plato might have called the Form Of The Clock, and idealise it as the concept of time.
Once we had many local clocks, and then there was the fun and games of synchronising them for trade, leading to GMT. To line up the world's clocks we need to consider some deep physical properties of reality such as the speed of light and gravitational time dilation.

Steve3007 wrote:
January 15th, 2020, 7:48 am
In an earlier thought experiment, we considered what time would be to us if the Earth was thrown from its orbit and was given an unstable rotation. At that point, the Earth would no longer operate as a natural clock because its motions would not be cyclical. There would be no more years with four seasons, and no more days and nights.
Here's another thought experiment: Suppose your clock (your man-made mechanical clock; hence no scare-quotes) starts ticking irregularly such that the time between each tick alternates between 1 and 2 seconds. 1, 2, 1, 2... (or it could be any other irregular sequence). How would you know? By comparing with another "clock" (either man-made or natural). Suppose all "clocks" (man-made and natural) do that. How could you know? You couldn't. So in those circumstances, is it physically meaningful to propose that these clocks are doing this?
We are conditioned by music and other rhythms so we would know immediately. It would sound like a heartbeat in 3/4 time. So, we would need to disregard prior conditioning for the thought experiment. To test the ticks we would need to measure using a known natural clock.

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Re: Is Time Just an Idea?

Post by Terrapin Station » January 15th, 2020, 8:21 pm

RJG wrote:
January 15th, 2020, 6:13 pm
Terrapin Station wrote:You're talking about points, lines, etc. Those are not real. They're mental abstractions we've constructed based on how we think about relations.
So then the mental abstractions we call "3D objects" are not real either? ...you need to stay consistent.
Objects, which have extensions of length, height and depth, are real. They're not points or lines. So there's nothing inconsistent there.

This is a logical self-contradiction.
No, it isn't. (Otherwise you can tell me what the proposition is that you believe is both being asserted and denied without equivocating.)
Is this "object" real? ...or not-real? ...you can't have it BOTH ways. It is logically impossible for the "change" of NOTHING (of non-real objects) to "occur". -- If NOTHING is changing, then there is NO CHANGING.
You didn't seem to understand what I said.

The usual notion is that for there to be a change, there has to be something, x, that's a "unity" or "identity" that remains the same through the changes.

I explained that this is not the case. It's possible for there to be x, an object, which disappears and is replaced by y, a different object. That's a change--there was x, now there's y. But there's no single thing that remains the same during the course of the change. The object in question is real.
Terrapin Station wrote:Time is IDENTICAL to motion/change. That's what time is.
Not logically possible. -- for "Without Time, there can be no Motion (of 3D objects)"

[/quote]Without time, there can indeed be no motion (or change), because time and motion/change are identical. If you have one, you have the other, necessarily. So there can't be one without the other.
Time is independent of Motion.
Motion is dependent on Time.
Simply making an assertion isn't a "logical certainty." You have to actually do the work, a la laying out the logical steps, that show that something is logically true/tautologous.

You're doing a lot of talking about logic without seeming to be very familiar with even 101-level topics.

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Re: Is Time Just an Idea?

Post by RJG » January 15th, 2020, 9:57 pm

Terrapin Station wrote:Objects, which have extensions of length, height and depth, are real. They're not points or lines. So there's nothing inconsistent there.
Yes, 3D Objects are real, we both agree. And if 3D Objects did not have 2D Planes and 1D Lines, then 3D Objects would not be 3D Objects.

Terrapin Station wrote:It's possible for there to be x, an object, which disappears and is replaced by y, a different object. That's a change--there was x, now there's y. But there's no single thing that remains the same during the course of the change. The object in question is real.
Not so. -- In your example:

The object X "changed" states (from appearance to disappearance).
The object Y "changed" states (from disappearance to appearance).

It is logical nonsense to claim "change can occur" without some-'thing' changing. No-thing changing is no change.

RJG wrote:"Without Time, there can be no Motion (of 3D objects)"
Terrapin Station wrote:Without time, there can indeed be no motion (or change), because time and motion/change are identical. If you have one, you have the other, necessarily. So there can't be one without the other.
Not according to Logic. Also, I suspect your assertion (belief) is without any logical basis, but only one of indoctrinated belief.

RJG wrote: Logical Certainties:
Time is independent of Motion.
Motion is dependent on Time.
Terrapin Station wrote:Simply making an assertion isn't a "logical certainty." You have to actually do the work, a la laying out the logical steps, that show that something is logically true/tautologous.
Yes, of course, and apparently you can't/don't recognize simple logic. These truths (logical certainties) were logically derived from:

C1. Therefore, "Without Time, there can be no Motion (of 3D objects)" is logically TRUE.
C2. Therefore, "Without Motion, there can be no Time" is logically FALSE.

Terrapin Station wrote:You're doing a lot of talking about logic without seeming to be very familiar with even 101-level topics.
...seriously? ...and here I had you pegged as one of the good guys (decent, respectful of others views), ...I never thought you would stoop to take personal "pot shots" at someone you disagreed with, ...my bad.

Have a good day Terrapin. I think we are done talking.

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Re: Is Time Just an Idea?

Post by Steve3007 » January 16th, 2020, 3:47 am

Greta wrote:Once we had many local clocks, and then there was the fun and games of synchronising them for trade, leading to GMT.
Yes indeed. In the UK, for example, I've read that it was the need for nationwide train timetables that drove the need to standardize. In the town where I live (in the east of England) there is an old sign above an old building stating that the local mean time (as opposed to GMT) is 5 minutes 41 seconds ahead of GMT.

As I understand it, the arbitrary choice of Greenwich to define the position of the prime meridian was a consequence of the race to design an accurate marine clock for measuring longitude when at sea. (The book "Longitude" by Dava Sobel is an interesting account of this - the efforts of John Harrison to design that clock.) I suppose, then, it was unlikely that a location in a landlocked country would be chosen. If it hadn't been Greenwich, perhaps it would have been somewhere like Lisbon, or some other country that was a seafaring nation in that period of clock design technology.
To line up the world's clocks we need to consider some deep physical properties of reality such as the speed of light and gravitational time dilation.
Well, I'd say that the world's clocks are already aligned with each other. Each time zone adding or subtracting an offset from GMT/UTC doesn't mean they're not aligned. But, yes, it's interesting to consider whether there could be some other more universal "origin" or zero against which clocks could be set. The Unix operating system arbitrarily chose 1st January 1970!


We are conditioned by music and other rhythms so we would know immediately. It would sound like a heartbeat in 3/4 time.
Yes. In other words, we have an approximate internal "clock" - an internal sense of the passage of time that we have evolved - that we could use for comparison. In that sense, we are the naturally evolved "watch" of the Blind Watchmaker!
So, we would need to disregard prior conditioning for the thought experiment. To test the ticks we would need to measure using a known natural clock.
But in the thought experiment, I proposed that all "clocks", man-made and natural, do this irregular ticking. My question was: is it physically meaningful to propose that literally all clocks could do that? I think not. I think this is one thing demonstrating that there is no such thing as a "Newtonian" universal time which somehow exists independently of the ways in which it could be observed. I think time, like space, derives its meaning from its method of potential observation/measurement.

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Re: Is Time Just an Idea?

Post by Terrapin Station » January 16th, 2020, 5:53 am

RJG wrote:
January 15th, 2020, 9:57 pm
Terrapin Station wrote:Objects, which have extensions of length, height and depth, are real. They're not points or lines. So there's nothing inconsistent there.
Yes, 3D Objects are real, we both agree. And if 3D Objects did not have 2D Planes and 1D Lines, then 3D Objects would not be 3D Objects.


No. Lines and planes are mathematical abstractions that do not exist in reality. There are no objects without length, width and height extension, and there are no objects without both length and width extension.
Terrapin Station wrote:It's possible for there to be x, an object, which disappears and is replaced by y, a different object. That's a change--there was x, now there's y. But there's no single thing that remains the same during the course of the change. The object in question is real.
Not so. -- In your example:

The object X "changed" states (from appearance to disappearance).
There's not an x that now has a state of having disappeared or being no longer existent. If x has disappeared or is no longer existent, there's no x to be in any state. What changed isn't x or y. What changed is that x existed but now y does instead.
It is logical nonsense to claim "change can occur" without some-'thing' changing.


No it isn't, as I'm very plainly explaining.
RJG wrote:"Without Time, there can be no Motion (of 3D objects)"
Terrapin Station wrote:Without time, there can indeed be no motion (or change), because time and motion/change are identical. If you have one, you have the other, necessarily. So there can't be one without the other.
Not according to Logic.
You really do not know what logic is if you think logic has anything to do with telling us what time is it is not. Logic is rather about the implicational relations of propositions.
so, I suspect your assertion (belief) is without any logical basis, but only one of indoctrinated belief.
You're guessing indoctrinated from or by?
RJG wrote: C1. Therefore, "Without Time, there can be no Motion (of 3D objects)" is logically TRUE.
C2. Therefore, "Without Motion, there can be no Time" is logically FALSE.
Again, you can't just assert this without showing the work for one being logically true and the other being logically false. As is, it's invalid, because if time and motion are identical, C2 is clearly false. You could simply add a premise that time and motion are not identical, but that wouldn't work, because we could assign "F" to that premise. So it doesn't help for establishing logical truth. The definition of logical truth is that ANY assignment of truth values to the components of an argument result in the overall argument being true. So, for example "If P, then P" is logically true, because whether we assign "T" or "F" to P, "If P, then P" is true, due to the stipulated conventional definition of the truth table for conditionals.
Terrapin Station wrote:You're doing a lot of talking about logic without seeming to be very familiar with even 101-level topics.
...seriously? ...and here I had you pegged as one of the good guys (decent, respectful of others views), ...I never thought you would stoop to take personal "pot shots" at someone you disagreed with, ...my bad.
It's not a pot shot. You're displaying ignorance with indignance--such as suggesting that logic has anything to do with telling us what time is ontologically, and suggesting this as if it's common knowledge and it's my flaw to not realize it. But that's not at all what logic is. I'm not just going to ignore that you're saying things that display an ignorance of 101-level content, or pretend that there's nothing wrong with the claims about stuff like this.

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Re: Is Time Just an Idea?

Post by Terrapin Station » January 16th, 2020, 5:55 am

Oops, tried to proofread more carefully and still missed one:

"You really do not know what logic is if you think logic has anything to do with telling us what time is it is not"

should have read

"You really do not know what logic is if you think logic has anything to do with telling us what time is or is not."

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