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 22nd, 2020, 3:57 pm

Steve3007 wrote:
January 22nd, 2020, 3:51 pm
How about instead presenting a citation of something that addresses the epistemological questions I was asking about how we know that we're releasing one particular at a time in double-slit (and similar) experiments?

I explained how the Feynman text didn't address the questions I was asking. You said I was looking in the wrong place in that text. You never answered with a few words from what you believed was the right place in the text in question. And you never offered another source, after claiming that many of them address the epistemological issue I brought up.

So how about some content?

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Re: Is Time Just an Idea?

Post by Terrapin Station » January 22nd, 2020, 3:59 pm

Type correction: "one particular" should have been "one particle"

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Re: Is Time Just an Idea?

Post by gater » January 22nd, 2020, 4:28 pm

The speed of light has nothing to do with time - unrelated topics.

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Re: Is Time Just an Idea?

Post by Greta » January 22nd, 2020, 6:18 pm

Steve3007 wrote:
January 22nd, 2020, 10:23 am
Greta wrote:I admit that should have spoken about balancing one's own judgement with the science. Obviously, first comes one's own perceptions. Then we ideally check our ideas against what other people have found out on the subject (aka "science")...
I think what this shows is simply that it's so easy to be misunderstood. I think what you were essentially saying before was that there's no point in reinventing the wheel. Unless we want to re-visit the wheel's design to see (a) why it was designed as it was and (b) whether we've all been taking its design for granted and it could actually be improved on.
Exactly. Humanity has assembled a vast body of knowledge. The observations of millions of geniuses in the past, building on each other's work over time. You have to respect that. Aside from being an incredible (continuing) achievement, our body of knowledge is a huge asset, just sitting there waiting to be used. A bottomless well of knowledge, with a great deal of it available at any time. So I struggle to understand those fighting over subject matter where it's clear they have not utilised existing bodies of knowledge.

Still, I will question aspects of human knowledge in terms of interpretation (which reaches into non-science territory, such as philosophy, psychology and spirituality). I also question some common unproven assumptions, eg. that qualia can only be generated by nervous systems. However, I have confidence in the execution of the science by the vast majority of scientists - far more faith than I have in myself in the same way as I will tend to trust a computer expert's view of my PC's health over my own, less informed, judgement.

Do we, as a society, value expertise and knowledge, or do we consider such things to be philosophical frippery? If we value expertise, then we must take what physicists say about time seriously. Not as gospel, but seriously. A quick look at the public conversation and current polities makes clear that expertise is not respected as it once was.

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Re: Is Time Just an Idea?

Post by Terrapin Station » January 22nd, 2020, 6:30 pm

The same "geniuses" of whom approximately 85% are still religious.

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Re: Is Time Just an Idea?

Post by Greta » January 22nd, 2020, 7:57 pm

85% of what are religious? It's certainly not scientists.

As for the past, religiosity was common everywhere. Does that mean we throw out everything they said and start again because their thinking might be infected with religious ideas? Might it be possible for many people, past and future, to be religious to some extent and not necessarily be misogynist, gun-worshipping, foetus-favouring etc?

So yes, our bodies of knowledge were built by the geniuses who successfully questioned the orthodoxy, creating new ones. These geniuses were usually already scientists who had thought, studied and worked tirelessly in the field rather than outsiders trying to bully others with harsh words into accepting their views.

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Re: Is Time Just an Idea?

Post by Terrapin Station » January 22nd, 2020, 8:30 pm

85% of the world's population. If we limit it to scientists, it's closer to 50%.

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Re: Is Time Just an Idea?

Post by Greta » January 22nd, 2020, 9:57 pm

Would that 50% figure include scientists in countries where open atheism is a punishable offence?

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Re: Is Time Just an Idea?

Post by Steve3007 » January 23rd, 2020, 4:10 am

Terrapin Station wrote:The same "geniuses" of whom approximately 85% are still religious.
Greta wrote:85% of what are religious? It's certainly not scientists.
Terrapin Station wrote:85% of the world's population. If we limit it to scientists, it's closer to 50%.
Greta wrote:Would that 50% figure include scientists in countries where open atheism is a punishable offence?
...and so the conversation might irrelevantly continue. You might as well be arguing as to the percentage of scientists (or anyone else) who break their eggs at the big end and the little end. Not being a qualified philosopher, like Terrapin, perhaps I struggle with rational reasoning and need someone with that celebrated status to help me. So perhaps someone could help me ot here:

Isaac Newton predicted that any mass which is not subject to an external force will remain at constant velocity. Isaac Newton was religious. If we wanted to assess whether his prediction is correct would we:

a. Examine the prediction and the reasoning and evidence on which it was based. Do an experiment to test it.
b. Ignore the prediction and investigate how religious Newton was. Perhaps come up with a percentage figure of religiosity in 17th Century England.

a or b?


Play the ball, not the man.

A simple sporting analogy that surely even qualified philosophers can understand?





Steve3007 wrote:No, he's arguing that something which hasn't been claimed isn't coherent.
Steve3007 wrote:...But the simple point I keep trying to make is that in order to critique something you first have to know what its' saying. And if somebody appears not to know what the thing they're attempting to refute is saying, ....
Steve3007 wrote: Propositions that are not challenged are not tested. But we need to challenge the actual propositions being made, not something else. That, really, is my only point.
Steve3007 wrote:As I said, I (humbly) propose that one thing that is relevant is that those who seek to analyse an idea must be clear as to what the idea says so that they're not attacking an imaginary foe - a.k.a a straw man.
Steve3007 wrote:To follow, in detail, the series of experiments and deductions that led from Galileo to Einstein would be the work of a huge book. That's one reason why posters like gater don't bother with it and just conclude, without having bothered looking into it, that modern physicists are "morons".
etc, etc, etc, etc

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Re: Is Time Just an Idea?

Post by Greta » January 23rd, 2020, 8:05 am

Steve3007 wrote:
January 23rd, 2020, 4:10 am
Terrapin Station wrote:The same "geniuses" of whom approximately 85% are still religious.
Greta wrote:85% of what are religious? It's certainly not scientists.
Terrapin Station wrote:85% of the world's population. If we limit it to scientists, it's closer to 50%.
Greta wrote:Would that 50% figure include scientists in countries where open atheism is a punishable offence?
...and so the conversation might irrelevantly continue. You might as well be arguing as to the percentage of scientists (or anyone else) who break their eggs at the big end and the little end. Not being a qualified philosopher, like Terrapin, perhaps I struggle with rational reasoning and need someone with that celebrated status to help me.

I think Terry Pratchett summed it up best in his novel, "Small Gods":
"What do philosophers look like?" said Brutha, "When they're not having a bath, I mean."
"They do a lot of thinking," said Om. "Look for someone with a strained expression."
"That might just mean constipation."
"Well, so long as they're philosophical about it . . ."
The city of Ephebe surrounded them. Dogs barked. Somewhere a cat yowled. There was that general susurration of small comfortable sounds that shows that, out there, a lot of people are living their lives.
And then a door burst open down the street and there was the cracking noise of a quite large wine amphora being broken over someone's head. A skinny old man in a toga picked himself up from the cobbles where he had landed, and glared at the doorway.
"I'm telling you, listen, a finite intellect, right, cannot by means of comparison reach the absolute truth of things, because being by nature indivisible, truth excludes the concepts of "more" or "less" so that nothing but truth itself can be the exact measure of truth. You bastards," he said.
Someone from inside the building said, "Oh yeah? Sez you."
The old man ignored Brutha but, with great difficulty, pulled a cobblestone loose and hefted it in his hand. Then he dived back through the doorway. There was a distant scream of rage.
"Ah. Philosophy," said Om.
Brutha peered cautiously round the door. Inside the room two groups of very nearly identical men in togas were trying to hold back two of their colleagues. It is a scene repeated a million times a day in bars around the multiverse-both would-be fighters growled and grimaced at one another and fought to escape the restraint of their friends, only of course they did not fight too hard, because there is nothing worse than actually succeeding in breaking free and suddenly finding yourself all alone in the middle of the ring with a madman who is about to hit you between the eyes with a rock.
"Yep," said Om, "that's philosophy, right enough."
"But they're fighting!"
"A full and free exchange of opinions, yes."
Now that Brutha could get a clearer view, he could see that there were one or two differences between the men. One had a shorter beard, and was very red in the face, and was waggling a finger accusingly.
"He bloody well accused me of slander!" he was shouting.
"I didn't!" shouted the other man.
"You did! You did! Tell 'em what you said!"
"Look, I merely suggested, to indicate the nature of paradox, right, that if Xeno the Ephebian said, `All Ephebians are liars-' "
"See? See? He did it again!"
"-no, no, listen, listen . . . then, since Xeno is himself an Ephebian, this would mean that he himself is a liar and therefore-” Xeno made a determined effort to break free, dragging four desperate fellow philosophers across the floor.
"I'm going to lay one right on you, pal!"
Brutha said, "Excuse me, please?"
The philosophers froze. Then they turned to look at Brutha. They relaxed by degrees. There was a chorus of embarrassed coughs.
"Are you all philosophers?" said Brutha.
The one called Xeno stepped forward, adjusting the hang of his toga.
"That's right," he said. "We're philosophers. We think, therefore we am."
"Are," said the luckless paradox manufacturer automatically.
Xeno spun around. "I've just about had it up to here with you, Ibid!" he roared.
He turned back to Brutha. "We are, therefore we am," he said confidently. "That's it."
Several of the philosophers looked at one another with interest.
"That's actually quite interesting," one said. "The evidence of our existence is the fact of our existence, is that what you're saying?"
"Shut up," said Xeno, without looking around.
"Have you been fighting?" said Brutha.
The assembled philosophers assumed various expressions of shock and horror.
"Fighting? Us? We're philosophers," said Ibid, shocked.
"My word, yes," said Xeno.
"But you were-” Brutha began.
Xeno waved a hand.
"The cut and thrust of debate," he said.
"Thesis plus antithesis equals hysteresis," said Ibid. "The stringent testing of the universe. The hammer of the intellect upon the anvil of fundamental truth—”
"Shut up," said Xeno. "And what can we do for you, young man?"
"Ask them about gods," Om prompted.
"Uh, I want to find out about gods," said Brutha.
The philosophers looked at one another.
"Gods?" said Xeno. "We don't bother with gods. Huh. Relics of an outmoded belief system, gods."
There was a rumble of thunder from the clear evening sky.
"Except for Blind Io the Thunder God," Xeno went on, his tone hardly changing.
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Re: Is Time Just an Idea?

Post by Steve3007 » January 23rd, 2020, 8:25 am

Good one. I like the fact that Xeno has trouble moving. (A joke at the expense of Zeno?)

Here's the part from the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy when the machine "Deep Thought" has been designed to calculate the Ultimate Answer to Life, the Universe and Everything. Designed by a society so "advanced" that philosophers have the status (there's that word again) of unionised blue collar workers, and talk in the stereotypical style of union shop stewards (at least British ones).
Douglas Adams wrote:"You just let the machines get on with the adding up,"

warned Majikthise,

"and we'll take care of the eternal verities, thank you very much. You want to check your legal position, you do, mate. Under law the Quest for Ultimate Truth is quite clearly the inalienable prerogative of your working thinkers. Any bloody machine goes and actually finds it and we’re straight out of a job, aren’t we? I mean, what’s the use of our sitting up half the night arguing that there may or may not be a God if this machine only goes and gives you his bleeding phone number the next morning?"

"That's right,"

shouted Vroomfondel,

"we demand rigidly defined areas of doubt and uncertainty!"
Also a parody of the Luddites.

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Re: Is Time Just an Idea?

Post by Terrapin Station » January 23rd, 2020, 9:50 am

Steve3007 wrote:
January 23rd, 2020, 4:10 am
Terrapin Station wrote:The same "geniuses" of whom approximately 85% are still religious.
Greta wrote:85% of what are religious? It's certainly not scientists.
Terrapin Station wrote:85% of the world's population. If we limit it to scientists, it's closer to 50%.
Greta wrote:Would that 50% figure include scientists in countries where open atheism is a punishable offence?
...and so the conversation might irrelevantly continue. You might as well be arguing as to the percentage of scientists (or anyone else) who break their eggs at the big end and the little end. Not being a qualified philosopher, like Terrapin, perhaps I struggle with rational reasoning and need someone with that celebrated status to help me. So perhaps someone could help me ot here:
What not having much of a background in philosophy resulted in here is an inability to understand what the relevance was of pointing out that a large percentage of scientists are still religious in the context of what I was responding to.

It also contributed to you apparently missing the word "still," missing its semantic and rhetorical significance.

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Re: Is Time Just an Idea?

Post by Steve3007 » January 23rd, 2020, 11:52 am

Terrapin Station wrote:What not having much of a background in philosophy resulted in here is an inability to understand what the relevance was of pointing out that a large percentage of scientists are still religious in the context of what I was responding to.
And, of course, you won't simply, unambiguously explain the intended relevance? Keep 'em guessing, eh? Just tell them that the reason they don't understand is because they're not qualified.

Anyway, a or b?
It also contributed to you apparently missing the word "still," missing its semantic and rhetorical significance.
The "rhetorical significance of the word 'still'"? Yes, you've lost me there. Clear as mud. As I said before, speak as plainly as possible using widely agreed upon (i.e. standard) definitions of words wherever possible. Say what you mean. Don't say the opposite of what you mean. Quote specifically what you're referring to. Avoid personal attacks. Tackle the argument, not the arguer. Tackle the argument not a completely different argument. Don't rely on empty appeals either to or against authority. Authority is relevant only insofar as it has already had its arguments/evidence tested in a way that can, if necessary, be referenced.

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Re: Is Time Just an Idea?

Post by Terrapin Station » January 23rd, 2020, 12:55 pm

Steve3007 wrote:
January 23rd, 2020, 11:52 am
Terrapin Station wrote:What not having much of a background in philosophy resulted in here is an inability to understand what the relevance was of pointing out that a large percentage of scientists are still religious in the context of what I was responding to.
And, of course, you won't simply, unambiguously explain the intended relevance? Keep 'em guessing, eh? Just tell them that the reason they don't understand is because they're not qualified.
It can be more fun to watch someone peacock their attitude and fragility.
It also contributed to you apparently missing the word "still," missing its semantic and rhetorical significance.
The "rhetorical significance of the word 'still'"? Yes, you've lost me there. [/quote]

I don't include words in what I write purely for decoration. If the word "still" was in the sentence, it was there for at least one good reason. Otherwise I wouldn't have added it.
Say what you mean. Don't say the opposite of what you mean.
People on the spectrum who are (or at least who used to be) classified as having Asperger's syndrome have a lot of problems with implicature, literary devices, looser manners of speaking, etc. Using any of those approaches is one easy way to identify folks on the spectrum online.

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Re: Is Time Just an Idea?

Post by Steve3007 » January 23rd, 2020, 1:04 pm

Terrapin Station wrote:People on the spectrum who are (or at least who used to be) classified as having Asperger's syndrome have a lot of problems with implicature, literary devices, looser manners of speaking, etc. Using any of those approaches is one easy way to identify folks on the spectrum online.
It's related to autism. I'm familiar with the symptoms. So that's one of the reasons you post on this site? To find people who you deem to suffer from a spectrum developmental disorder and poke them? Would you do that if you were face to face with them?

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