Blog Archives

The Ethical Dilemmas of Time Travel … Relationships

Given that time travel is an actual possibility for the sake of this argument I would like to broach the subject of relationships.

Lets imagine that our time-traveller; Mr.X; embarks on a relationship witha stunning young blonde; Miss.Y;  from London in the month of May 2013, now it turns out things didn’t exactly work out between them (insert whichever reason you want here).

After some travelling around in the 15th century to get over the breakup he returns to May 2013 and finds himself in a London bar where he meets a brunette in her thirties; lets call her Miss.Z; and tries again at having a relationship believing the time is right to let go and move on after the Miss.Y incident.

Unfortunatly whilst Mr. X is out of town…and in fact of the time zone…Miss.Y and Miss. Z happen to meet up and discuss their new boyfriends…turns out they work together in the same office block and decided to lunch together that day. They soon come to realise that Mr.X is in fact seeing both Miss. Y and Miss. Z simultaneously. But is he two-timing?

Well to answer this we must first realise that what we are talking about is a problem involving three seperate time streams. First is Mr.X’s where he has gone from being single, in a monogonous realtionship with Miss. Y, break up wtih Miss. Y, single again, in a monogonous realtionship with Miss. Z. In his time stream at no point has in been with both Miss. Y and Miss Z simultaneously so within his time stream he has not cheated on either of them.

Let’s now examine Miss.Y’s perspective she has gone from single to in a realtionship with Mr.X, find out he is in a relationship with Miss. Z, break up with Mr.X, single. So it seems to her he has wronged her by seeing her workmate whilst seeing her.

Finally there is the viewpoint of Miss.Z to take into account. Miss.Z’s time stream shows her going from single, in a relationship with Mr.X, discovery of Mr.X dating Miss.Y. Again Miss.Z has every reason to believe Mr.X has not been as faithful as he thinks he has.

So has Mr.X really been two-timing? Or does the fact that his time stream proves he has never dated both simultaneously let him off the hook?

It would appear that Mr.X is both two-timing and not two-timing simultaneously. Yet even taking this stance proves its own problems, the most obvious of which being that it breaks Aristotle’s famous law…that of non-contradiction. The law of non-contradiction states in its third form (its logical form as opposed to its ontological or psychological forms) “The most secure of all beliefs is that mutually contradictory statements cannot be jointly true” [Aristotle, ‘Metaphysics’, 1011b]. So in order to resolve this problem we must accept one of the following:

  1. Mr.X is two-timing
  2. Mr.X is not two-timing

Seeing as we cannot hold both the primary problem rears its head once more. Has Mr.X really been two-timing? Or did Aristotle, in devising his law, fail to realise that there could be some examples where it is necessary to hold contradictory statements can both be true simultaneously?

 

Advertisements

Kant’s Analogies of Experience: A Lighter Perpesctive

Let us first divide cognition into rational analyse,

And sensory perception which Descartes considered valueless,

Now reason gives us concepts which are true but tautological,

Sensation gives us images whose content is phenomenal.

Whatever greets are senses must exist in space and time,

Or else it would be nowhere and nowhen and therefore slime,

The space and time we presuppose before we sense reality,

must have innate subjective transcendental ideality,

Thus space and time are forms of our perception,

Whereby sensations are synthesised into orderly array.

The same must hold for rational conception,

In everything we think the laws of logic must hold sway.

But a problem here arises with respect to natural science,

While empirical in method on pure though it lies reliant,

Although for Newton’s findings we to Newton give the glory,

Newton never could have found them if they weren’t known a priori.

We know that nature governed is by principles immutable,

But how we come to know is inherently inscrutable,

That thought requires logic is a standpoint unassailable,

But for objects of our senses explanations aren’t available.

So let’s attempt to vivisect cognition,

By critical analysis in hope that we find,

The link between pure thought and intuition,

A deduction transcendental will shed light upon the mind.

You may recall that space and time are forms of apprehension,

And therefore what we sense has spatiotemporal extension,

Whatever is extended is composed of a plurality,

But through an act of synthesis we form a communality.

If we are to be conscious of a single concrete entity,

Each part of its extension must be given independently,

Combining in a transcendental apperceptive unity,

To which I may ascribe the term self–conscious with impunity.

The order of various sensations arises from connections,

Not be held in sense alone,

Our self creates the rules of their relations,

And of this combination it is conscious of its own.

While these rules correspond to scientific causal laws,

The question of their constancy remains to give us pause,

But once we recollect the source of our self-conscious mind,

To this perverse dilemma a solution we may find.

The self is nothing but its act in synthesis sublime,

This act must be the same to be self-conscious over time,

The rules for combination of its selfhood form the ground,

So what we perceive tomorrow by today’s laws must be bound.

These constant laws whereby we shape experience,

Are simply those which regulate our reason that is plain,

So don’t ask why the stars display invariance,

The cosmos is produced by your disoriented brain.

*This is not my own work but something I found on YouTube and proved useful in helping me remember the point of what Kant was suggesting to see the article it’s in original form a link to the YouTube clip has been attached*

An Evaluation of Kant’s Arguments in the Analogies of Experience

The German philosopher Immanuel Kant throughout his book Critique of Pure Reason argued that time and substance are permanent, this being the case then they must be the foundations for an objective understanding of the world as opposed to the subjective understanding we are currently following based on our perceptions of phenomena. He also argues that for us to make the connection between the manifold of subjective perceptions and objective understanding we require a synthetic unity which comes to us in the form of cause and effect a tool of cognition which combines phenomena with a priori reasoning. But just how valid are Kant’s arguments? It would seem the evidence supports his claims although a small number of philosophers fear what would happen should we gain access to an objective understanding of the world and try to put us off any attempt from moving towards it.

Kant established a set of three analogies named the ‘analogies of experience’ in order to demonstrate that “experience is possible only through the presentation of a necessary connection of perceptions”[1], or in words experience is the a posteriori synthetic unity of all our perceptions merged into one single consciousness. Kant goes about proving this by making three arguments revolving around the three aspects of what he terms the ‘inner sense’ or ‘inner intuition’, to which we commonly refer to as time. These three aspects of time are thus; permanence, succession and community, with each relying on the former aspects in order for the whole argument to remain valid. Before evaluating Kant’s arguments within the analogies it is best to first give a brief summary of the arguments.

Throughout the first analogy Kant argues “in all variation by appearances substance is permanent, and its quantum in nature is neither increased nor decreased”[2] the reasoning behind this claim is that all our appearances occur within, and only within, time, therefore time must itself be a permanent fixture in the universe allowing substance to flow in sequence or form unities leading to the ever changing appearances we have. He also adds that even though time itself cannot be perceived only conceived as it is the inner sense then it must be a priori to the universe and all substance within it both of which must therefore be a posteriori by necessity. Kant also argues that substance is permanent by referring to an example about smoke, “substance endures and only the accidents vary”[3] as when wood is burnt it leaves smoke and ash but the total mass of the smoke and ash will always be equal to the mass of the wood prior to it being burnt, hence substance is a permanent fixture yet its form changes in time. Since it is only accidents that vary then it must be the case that, for Kant at least, “our apprehension of the manifold of appearance is always successive, and therefore is always varying. Hence…apprehension alone…can never determine whether this manifold considered as experience is simultaneous or sequential…unless something underlying in experience is there always.” Or in other words, the combination of our perceptions will change from moment to moment so our understanding of the world alone is not enough to construct knowledge of how the external world really is as it fails to grasp the constants hiding within it. So the first analogy Kant has argued that substance and time are the only constants in the universe with all other things undergoing change and for this reason we cannot understand the world by empirical means alone.

The second analogy is dedicated to the temporal mode of succession in which Kant tries to convince us that “All changes occur according to the law of the connection of cause and effect”[4] because all appearances succeed one another because we apply our cognition to connect our perceptions in time, thus cause and effect is a synthesising product born out of our cognition. However Kant later adds to this point “But a concept carrying with it a necessity of synthetic unity can only be a pure concept of understanding”[5] thus cause and effect is a key part of our faculty of understanding and therefore needed if we our to obtain knowledge of phenomena, this is because when we perceive phenomena we never actually perceive the object in itself. For example say you were to read the analogies within Critique of Pure Reason you would not actually be perceiving the book itself, only the manifold of all the appearances it presents to your sense of perception, thus objects in themselves remain unknown to us. This isn’t the only thing Kant believes to be beyond our comprehension he also states that “an actuality succeeding in empty time…cannot be apprehended any more than empty time”[6] the reasoning behind this is that to have empty time there must be non-existence yet in the previous analogy he concluded that substance is permanent, hence persists in every point of time making the notion of empty time absurd, from this we can make the inductive leap that cause and effect (probably) relies on substance being permanent. To conclude Kant has argued that cause and effect is the necessary synthetic unity binding time to phenomena via succession which relies on the permanence of substance if a posteriori knowledge of phenomena is to be possible.

The final analogy is concerned with community. Kant uses this analogy to argue that “All substances insofar as they can be perceived in space as simultaneous are in thoroughgoing interaction”[7] meaning that existents although seen to be existing individually, yet simultaneously, are actually existing within a community where they constantly affect one another within each instance in time. For Kant “Things are only simultaneous if their perception can…succeed one another reciprocally”[8] for example placing a ball on a cushion would cause an indentation in the cushion as the indentation makes room for the ball being placed upon the cushion, thus both occur within the same instance. This led to Kant arguing that “substances in space cannot be cognized in experience except under the presupposition that they interact with one another…Therefore every substance…must contain within itself the causality of certain determination in the other substance and simultaneously must contain within itself the effects of the other substance’s causality”[9], hence substance must contain every possible connection of cause and effect within it simultaneously so that they can be perceived as if they are in constant interaction with one another. In conclusion every substance affects all other substances as all other substances affect the substance first in question, thus substances are held in a community linked by cause and effect within time.

Gardner argues “The Analogies proceed to show that the…categories of substance and causality perform a transcendental function…tied specifically to the circumstance that we are subjects…in time”[10] because when thinking about objects as being things outside our representations we must think of them as existing within time, but beyond the assumed mental flow of our representations. If we cannot do this then objects, that is to say substance, falls back into the temporal flow making then vulnerable to change which goes against Kant’s argument that substance is permanent. Following from this we can assume that Gardner is trying to support Kant in the claim that substance is, in fact, permanent. Yet Kant holds that time and substance cannot be perceived only conceived making them a priori as Scruton argues “every category corresponds to a principle, whose truth is presupposed in its application”[11] and is therefore a priori, hence how the world is objective via necessity even if we cannot perceive it to be as such.

This notion of having time and substance as beyond perception, yet permanent and objective, implies that there must be something else outside, and beyond, phenomena where all objective knowledge must reside. Scruton states this to be the case as “we find causes only by postulating a realm of enduring things”[12], Kant adheres to this by referring to a realm of objective knowledge which he calls noumena, thus we now have what Gardner referred to as the ‘transcendental function’ of Kant’s analogies. The transcendental function being the analogies were set up in order to prove the existence of noumena in what would seem to be a dualistic epistemology similar to Plato’s concept of the Forms in the intelligible realm and substances in the sensible realm. Gardner also accepts the notion of an objective realm as all things are bound by a single objective nature, he argues “we inhabit a world…in which all objective empirical facts have a particular form, and all appearances collectively compose ‘one nature’”[13] or a manifold which Kant would say lights up an a priori resemblance to that form within noumena, as opposed to being a relative, and therefore subjective, manifold as Hume argues for.

One argument against Kant is ‘if this knowledge is beyond our perception maybe there is a good reason as to why this is the case’ a view held by Prymus who argues that “madmen were feared because it was supposed that they were driven crazy by stumbling upon hidden secrets of the universe…knowledge that no human could comprehend”[14] so for any of us to gain access to noumena would prove dangerous. We have been given warnings of this within popular culture, for example in the sci-fi series Doctor Who an evil villain known only as ‘The Master’ when placed in front of the temporal schism to see time for what it is in itself lost his mind and began plotting away against creation. Similarly in the video game Final Fantasy VI we encounter a clown called Kefka who after being infused with magic to enhance his knowledge of the universe becomes homicidal as he attempts to reduce creation to a state of non-existence. Prymus argues the reason as to why objective knowledge makes us act in such a way is because objective knowledge makes us ‘arational’, that is to say we become entities outside the sphere of rationality (neither rational or irrational), whilst outside this sphere we realise “most of us see existence as necessary, as an imperative…existence is really only…a hypothetical imperative”[15] meaning that existence is only necessary so long as it adheres to our idea of what we seek in the world.

However Prymus’ argument on first sight doesn’t seem to correspond to Kant’s analogies but only to his concept of there being a realm known as noumena, nor does it argues against any of Kant’s arguments as being true. But if we were to take Prymus’ use of the word existence in her essay and ask ‘what is existence?’ then we can answer it by looking at Aristotle who argued that existence is what exists and what exists is substance. Thus we can now deduce by the logical procedure that if X is equal to Y and Y is equal to Z then by necessity X must be equal to Z to state that existence is substance. Now we can see that Prymus’ argument actually relates to the first analogy where Kant argues that substance is permanent. Now if these warnings are true and someone does gain access to noumena and tries to destroy substance then they would also take down cause and effect and the interaction between substances making knowledge, be it a priori or a posteriori impossible. We can therefore conclude that we should not seek objective knowledge but be satisfied with the subjective empiricism offered to us by Hume, unless Kant is mistaken.

Kant originally set up the analogies in response to Hume’s arguments of cause and effect in hope that it would disprove Hume, but just what was Hume’s argument? Hume argued that “It is evident, that there is a principle of connection between the different thoughts…in the mind…To me, there appear to be only three principles of connection among ideas…resemblance, contiguity in time and place, and cause or effect”[16]. It appears that Hume, like Kant, accepts that time must be permanent and cause and effect must also exist if knowledge derived from our perceptions is to be obtainable. However this is where the similarity draws to an end as for Hume knowledge must only be based on empirical methods, and therefore we can only hope to achieve a posteriori knowledge which is subjective due to our own relative experiences of the world, the reasoning behind this is that if “we must enquire how we arrive at the knowledge of cause and effect…knowledge of this relation is not…attained by reasonings a priori[17] it is only through our experience of phenomena that we conceive the concept of cause and effect, for example if given two billiard balls we would never accept that the first would cause the second to move if it rolled into it unless we had seen this to be the case on a number of previous occasions so that it became a fixed continuity of how things are in accordance with the laws of Newton’s physics. Yet Hume never accepts that cause and effect exists as part of phenomena as it can not be perceived, instead it is a cognitive synthesiser uniting two separate events together consistently to produce a manifold of presentations. So if we cannot perceive cause and effect yet it still does the same job as Kant believes it does, then we can say that cause and effect lies within noumena along with time and substance, thus Hume and Kant although go about it by alternative methods seem to reach similar conclusions as to the nature of time, causality and substance.

To conclude even though Kant set off to argue against the subjective empiricism of Hume he actually constructed a set of arguments similar to Hume based upon a transcendental empiricism (otherwise known as transcendental idealism). A framework supported by, to some degree, Plato, Scruton, Hume and Gardner. However as Prymus pointed out there may be hidden dangers lurking within this realm of objective knowledge, so it might be advisable to remain contented with the subjective empiricism of Hume until we know as to whether there is any truth in Prymus’ claims or if they are just scare tactics to keep us all in the dark about how the world really is.  

Bibliography

  • Aristotle, 2004, Metaphysics, London: Penguin Classics
  • Gardner. S, 1999, Kant and the Critique of Pure Reason, Abingdon (Oxfordshire): Routledge
  • Hume. D, 2008, An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding, Oxford: Oxford University Press
  • Kant. I, 1999, Critique of Pure Reason (Abridged (Translated by W. S. Pluhar)), Indianapolis: Hackett
  • Kant. I, 2007, Critique of Pure Reason (Reissued Edition (Translated by Smith)), Basingstoke (Hampshire): Palgrave Macmillan
  • Plato, 2007, The Republic (second edition), London: Penguin Classics
  • Prymus. K, 2009, ‘Kefka, Nietzsche, Foucault: Madness and Nihilism in Final Fantasy VI’, in Beaulieu. M and Blahuta. J, ‘Final Fantasy and Philosophy the Ultimate Walkthrough’, New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons Inc, pp 20-33
  • Scruton. R, 2001, Kant a Very Short Introduction, Oxford: Oxford University Press
  • http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b00pk651/Doctor_Who_The_End_of_Time_Part_1/
  • http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b00pk7ls/Doctor_Who_The_End_of_Time_Part_2/

[1] Kant. I, Critique of Pure Reason, 1999, B218

[2] Ibid, A182

[3] Ibid, A184

[4] Ibid, A189

[5] Ibid, B234

[6] Ibid, A192

[7] Ibid, A211

[8] Ibid, B257

[9] Ibid, B258-B259

[10] Gardner. S, Kant and the Critique of Pure Reason, 1999, Pg. 171

[11] Scruton. R, Kant a Very Short Introduction, 2001, Pg. 47

[12] Ibid, Pg. 51

[13] Gardner. S, Kant and the Critique of Pure Reason, 1999, Pg. 177

[14] Prymus. K, ‘Kefka, Nietzsche, Foucault: Madness and Nihilism in Final Fantasy VI’, in Beaulieu. M and Blahuta. J, ‘Final Fantasy and Philosophy the Ultimate Walkthrough’, Pg. 24

[15] Ibid, Pg. 27

[16] Hume. D, An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding, 2008, Pg. 16

[17] Ibid, Pg. 19

Time Travel Exists: A Logical Proof

Since the rise of science fiction a few decades ago physicists have started to look into the possibilities of time travel, however physicists being physicists have approached this subject from a somewhat blinkered viewpoint by trying to deal with it from a purely scientific way of thinking. Because of this physicists have managed to make little headway into proving as to whether we can time travel, however if we abandon the physicists scientific style and rely solely on logical thinking it is possible to prove, and demonstrate, that time travel does exist and everyone single one of us is in fact a time traveller.

The Oxford English Dictionary…that excellent record of the one of the greatest languages we have in the world today…defines travel as being “go from one place to another; journey along or through”[1]. So if we now unpack the term time travel using this definition we end up with a concept that means ‘the ability to go from one point in time to another; to journey through time”. This does seem to be no different to the usual conception of time travel but it lacks one thing, normally we expect time travel to mean being able to move from one point in time to any other point in time under the definition just given no such ability is alluded to.

So from this I shall now move onto my demonstrative proof. We as beings living within a temporal framework go about each day in our lives moving from one day to the next, one hour to the next, one minute to the next, in short one point in time to the next satisfying part one of the Oxford Dictionary’s definition of travel, now for the second part the medium we move through when doing this is time hence we are travelling through time satisfying the latter clause. Therefore is it possible to conclude that time travel does in fact exist and that we are all time travellers despite having no special adapted machines…like The Doctor…or superhuman powers…like Hiro Nakamura.

I now end by thanking you all for your time in reading this and wish you all the best of luck with your time travelling adventures. Adieu.

References

  • Hawker. S (editor), ‘Oxford Mini Dictionary’, 2002, Oxford University Press: Oxford


[1] Oxford Dictionary, pg.655

Is time real

Is Time Real

 

The question ‘is time real?’ may at first glance seem simple, requiring nothing more than a single word answer…yes. However here lies a difficulty if we answer ‘yes time is real’ then we have the complex problem in trying to explain exactly what time is. We often use the term time in expressions such as ‘I ran out of time’ as if time is something limited, yet on the other hand we say ‘there is all the time in the world’ which infers that time is something unlimited, already we have ran into problems as something cannot be limited and unlimited simultaneously. We also make use of the phrase ‘time stood still’ indicating that time must have been in motion to begin with again this can be problematic as if time is unlimited then it would consume all of space and therefore have nowhere to move making a locomotive unlimited time implausible. Equally if time is static then it causes problems for change as things are normally said to change as time moves on, consequently for change to be possible some form of locomotive time must be present.

 

On the other hand if we answer ‘no time is not real’ we have an equally challenging task ahead of us as we must disprove all arguments that claim time to be either limited or unlimited, locomotive or stationary, or in fact any argument that posits time with an attribute. Having successfully done that we must then work out why we refer to time as an existing thing if its only attribute is non-existence, here lies yet further difficulty. Hence to answer either way this question is far deeper that it first appears.

 

From what has been said so far it would seem that the only plausible options open to us are time is a locomotive limited entity, time is a stationary and either limited or unlimited entity, or time is a non-existent. By looking at various arguments put forward for both the defence that time is real and for the case that time is not we shall come to realise that time is actually time is part of a four-dimensional framework which subsists as part of our cognition, or in Kant’s words, inner sense which allows us to experience the physical world and make sense of it, therefore time is real.

 

To begin let us first examine the arguments against the notion that time exists beginning with those of Conee and Sider who say “we ordinarily conceive of time as being something that moves…the problem with this way of thinking is that time is the standard by which motion is defined; how then could time itself move?” [1] If time does move, then it must move though some secondary time. Let us call time t and this new secondary time t’ now if t moves through t’, t’ still being a form of time and time being something which moves, then t’ would have to move through a further form of time t”. Now following this on would result in an infinite regress argument since every time we introduce a further form of time we would require an even further form of time, hence any notion of a moving or flowing time becomes absurd and so time must be static.

 

Conee and Sider also argue “time is just one of the dimensions of space-time” [2] and “time has a special direction: past to future”[3], this could be taken to be contradictory to the previous argument in which time is proving to be static as anything which has a direction must be moving. However this is not the case,  by direction they are not talking about direction of travel but the direction in which it points, for example if I were to stand stationary the way in which I would face would be my direction yet I am not moving, this is the same for time. From these two arguments we can come to the conclusion that both Conee and Sider believe time to exist as a static entity which is part a four-dimensional space-time framework.

 

There also seems to be two concepts of time known as A series and B series, and it would appear Conee and Sider are both advocates of the A series notion of time. McTaggart clearly explains how each of the two notion differ in his essay Time “I shall give the name…A series to that of positions…from far past through…to the far future…the series of positions which runs from earlier to later…I shall call the B series”[4]. However McTaggart does not support either of the two series instead he denies the existence of time, he argues “we perceive events in time as being present…this merely subjective…a constant illusion of our minds”[5] by this he means that what is present relies entirely on the subject and their temporal location. For example as if I were to say ‘presently I am writing this sentence’ then by the time you come to read it the statement will be rendered false as I wrote it in what would then be the past. Therefore any system of time based upon past, present and future will be completely subjective and therefore illusory, hence A series time cannot exist.

 

But what of B series time? McTaggart claims that “if then a B series without an A series can constitute time, change must be possible without an A series…but this is impossible…if there is any change, it must be looked in the A series”[6] the reasoning behind McTaggart’s claim that B series time is impossible is because subject x in b series time would be earlier than subject y and must always be this way in accordance with the notion of B series time then time never progresses and if time fails to progress then change fails to happen. Thus B series time cannot offer change only A series time can, but A series time cannot exist so neither can B series time as the latter depends on the former.

 

Loux states “we may concede that there are things that are not in time. Philosophers have claimed that God, is not a temporal being, and it has been argued the abstract entities like properties, propositions and numbers are outside time.”[7] If this is true and things do not exist outside of time then they must not change as only things within time change, yet we have heard of God changing form in the Bible as one night in a stable in Bethlehem God became human in the form of Jesus[8]. If the Bible is an accurate historical document then this goes against the notion that time is essential to change as if change can occur outside of time then time is no longer necessary for change, and thus time need not exist.

 

The idea of time not existing is far from being a modern notion, the Pyrrhonian Sceptics in Ancient Greece, along with the Stoics and Aristotle who shall be mentioned a little later, also denied time’s existence. The sceptical argument denies time on the grounds that if it exists it must be either limited or unlimited yet it cannot be either since “if limited…there will be a time with no time…which is absurd”[9] but “if unlimited…past and future exist, each of these will be present. But it is absurd”[10]. So what we are left with is a time which is not limited but not unlimited, or in other words something that both is and is not, with the is in this case meaning limited. Yet to have something that is and is not the predicate posited to it breaks the law of non-contradiction therefore time can not possibly exist without breaking this law.

 

The Stoics held the belief that the cosmos was “the god himself who…being the craftsman…taking substance as a totality back into himself in certain temporal cycles”[11], by which they meant the universe was caught on a temporal loop which ends and begins anew, a theory now taken by physicists as the big bang followed by a big crunch. This notion of time being looped is detrimental to the B series theory of time especially given that the Stoics also believed that “the cosmos, governed by reason, has the best possible organization, this is repeated in each cycle”[12]. Leaving us with a repetitive time which with every passing cycle will play out exactly as the previous did, the reason this is detrimental to B series time is the fact that for B series to work x must be earlier than y and must always be earlier than y, but under the Stoic concept of circular time we get x being earlier and later than y. This contradicts the B series view on time and therefore if time is circular as the Stoics believe then B series time cannot exist. 

 

However the Stoics do not deny time entirely, they “thought that time is incorporeal… a thing conceived of as existing on its own”[13]but it was also unlimited and infinite, infinite because it was looped and therefore has neither beginning nor end and unlimited because it could not be traversed in its entirety as once the ‘end’ is reached you will find yourself back at its ‘beginning’, that is the dawn of a new cycle. This usage of the word unlimited gets around the Pyrhhonian use of the word as the Stoics do not take it to mean something which can be extended infinitely in all directions but merely impassable, thus an unlimited time can exist regardless of the Pyrhhonian criticism. 

 

When discussing the fundamental principles of the cosmos Aristotle has this to say “if any one of them were infinite, the others would have been destroyed”[14], time being one of the fundamental principles of the cosmos then if it were to be unlimited then it would be extended in all directions pushing everything out of existence, this includes space and substance yet as space and substance continue to exist alongside time then time cannot be unlimited, as the Pyrrhonean Sceptics led us to believe. Another of Aristotle’s arguments against time is critical of A series time as it shows how the past and future are not real, thus proving that the flow of A series time is not plausible. Aristotle’s claim comes like this, “some of it has happened and does not exist, and some of it is in the future and does not yet exist…it would appear to be impossible for anything which consists of things that do not exist to exist itself”[15], the claim can be explained quite clearly as if time exists of non-existent sections then the only thing that can exist by combining these non-existents must be non-existence and therefore A series time cannot exist. 

 

So far we have looked at the arguments that time does not exist, and what cannot exist cannot be real. From what has been said we can now say that is seems unlikely that B series time can exist, but for A series time although the evidence suggests it does not exist McTaggart’s claim that A series time is subjective and therefore an illusion of the mind could be interpreted to mean that A series time subsists as a product of mind, in which case A series time is real whereas B series time is not. Now we shall look at the arguments for time’s existence beginning with looking at the revised version of B-series time.

 

It would seem B series time has already been condemned however there is a revised version which may bring it new life. This new version of B series time like its earlier format removes the idea of tense from time so there is no past, present or future but also removes the ideas that time as a flow from earlier to later. Instead “defenders of the new B-theory…take time to be just another dimension along with the three spatial dimensions”[16], so the revised B series suggests time to be part of a four-dimensional space-time framework as supported by the likes of Conee, Sider and Smart.

 

Smart is an advocate of static time as part of a four-dimensional framework claiming that “our notion of time as flowing…is an illusion which prevents us seeing the world as it really is”[17]. For Smart time is just another dimension to the three spatial dimensions so as things pass through the three-dimensional ‘cube’ that is space it also moves through this extra dimension known as time and if we were to dissect time into slices we would observe space and all forms of substance within changing, but time itself is not changing only space is changing and its temporal location along the fourth dimensional plane. So what Smart suggests is we ought to remove the notion of a locomotive time as being the cause of change, which requires a change in language, one which is without tense as opposed to the tensed language used for A series time. “If we are going to eliminate the notion of change we had better…eliminate…words such as ‘past’, ‘present’ ‘future’ and ‘now’”[18]. Having a language without tense would result in statements such as ‘I am typing this now’ into ‘I am typing this on the seventh of February 2010’, hence all statements using the terms ‘now’ or ‘present’ must be replaced by referring to the precise temporal location within the temporal plane. The same can also be said of statements using terms such as ‘past’ and ‘future’. Consequently it would seem the revised B series notion of time is more plausible than its predecessor, although it does require a change in the way we use language otherwise we shall remain in the shadows as to the true nature of time.  

 

Loux provides further support for the revised B series notion of time as he says “there can be little doubt that…contingent beings…appear to have their being in time”[19] and McTaggart “fails to show that the B series taken by itself is not a proper temporal framework”[20]. Proposing that time exists as an eternal principle which acts as “a dimension along with the three spatial dimensions”[21], even though this sounds a lot like the revised B series notion of time which sees time as part a four-dimensional framework but Loux adds that it is eternal, a concept he calls eternalism. Eternalists argue time to be an eternal existent, one which cannot have an ending, not to be confused with unlimited which implies it can stretched out in all directions time can only be stretched along its dimensional axis, which it can be forever according to eternalists.

 

Epicurus argued that time is neither substance nor predicate but a predicate of predicates, as he said in the two fragments; “nor must one predicate anything else of it, as though it had the same substance as this particular thing”[22] and “Epicurus says that time is a property of properties”.[23] By this what is meant is that time is incorporeal but is also something which cannot be posited to things instead it exists outside the boundaries of substance and predicate in realm of its own. It could then be argued that this realm in which time exists is the realm of cognition making time a substance of mind; hence time does not exist but subsist.

 

Kant was another strong advocate that time was real having believed that “time is a necessary presentation that underlies all intuitions…all actuality of appearances is possible only in time. Appearances…may go away; but time itself cannot be annulled”[24]. So for Kant time is not something which happens to be real, but it is also necessary and cannot be removed, so just what does Kant mean when he claims time is a presentation? Unlike others such as Smart who argue time is objective Kant claims “time is not a universal concept”[25], in fact he argues “time is merely a subjective condition of our intuition…time is nothing”[26]. Although what Kant means here by nothing is not something which is non-existent, instead Kant suggests time is an entity without substance, thus it cannot be part of the realm of phenomena, which is the physical realm. Time is an entity of cognition and being an entity of cognition it must subsist as a product of mind or as Kant calls it ‘inner sense’. This view can be seen clearly in the Critique of Pure Reason where he states “time is not something that is self-subsistent or that attaches to things as an objective determination…for if time were self-subsistent it would be actual. But if on the second alternative…then it could not precede the objects”[27]. A view supporting Epicurus’ idea that time is neither substance nor predicate, we also see support from McTaggart that A series time is subjective and cannot exist, yet McTaggart fails to deny time as a subsistent, so perhaps there is some truth in Epicurus’ and Kant’s claims that time subsists as a substance of mind.

 

To conclude it seems to be the case that time is real, and it is a four-dimensional space-time framework, and therefore only the revised B series concept of time is real. However there is some convincing evidence suggesting time subsists as revised B series time. Since any form of space/time framework we have is going to be a man-made device created by our cognition then time could only ever be a substance of mind and therefore only be real in the sense that it subsists as opposed to existing as part of the physical world we experience through our senses. Furthermore time is static and unlimited only as far as it can stretch along its dimensional axis for all eternity.                                 

 

 

 

Bibliography

  • Aristotle, 2008, Physics (Translated by Waterfield), Oxford: Oxford University Press
  • Conee. E and Sider. T, 2007, Riddles of Existence a Guided Tour of Metaphysics, Oxford: Clarendon Press
  • Gerson. L and Inwood. B, 1997, Hellenistic Philosophy Introductory Readings (2nd Edition), Indianapolis: Hackett
  • Kant. I, 1996, Critique of Pure Reason (Abridged (Translated by Pluhar)), Indianapolis: Hackett
  • Kant. I, 2007 , Critique of Pure Reason (Reissued Edition (Translated by Smith)), Basingstoke (Hampshire): Palgrave Macmillan
  • Loux. M. J, 2007, Metaphysics a Contemporary Introduction (3rd Edition), Abingdon (Oxfordshire): Routledge
  • McTaggart. J. M. E, ‘Time’, in Loux. M. J, Metaphysics Contemporary Readings (2nd Edition), 2008, Abingdon (Oxfordshire): Routledge, pp 341-350
  • Sellars. J, 2006, Stoicism, Chesham (Buckinghamshire): Acumen
  • Smart. J. J. C, ‘The Space-Time World’, in Loux. M. J, Metaphysics Contemporary Readings (2nd Edition), 2008, Abingdon (Oxfordshire): Routledge, pp 383-394
  • The Holy Bible accessed at http://www.biblica.com/bible/verse/?q=Luke%202:1-20&=yes (21:36 05/02/2010)


[1] Conee and Sider, Riddles of Existence a Guided Tour of Metaphysics, 2007, pg. 44

[2] Ibid, pg. 50

[3] Ibid, pg. 50

[4] McTaggart, Time, 2008, pg. 351

[5] Ibid, pg. 351

[6] Ibid, pp. 352-353

[7] Loux, Metaphysics a Contemporary Introduction (3rd Edition), 2007, pp. 205-206

[8] Luke 2:1-20

[9] Sextus Empiricus, Outlines of Pyrrhonism, 47.141 

[10] Ibid, 47.142

[11] Diogenes Laertius, 7.137

[12] Sellers, Stoicism, 2006, pg. 99

[13] Sextus Empiricus, Adversus Mathematicos, 10.218

[14] Aristotle, Physics, 2008, 204b22

[15] Ibid, 217b32

[16] Loux, Metaphysics a Contemporary Introduction (3rd Edition), 2007, pg 224

[17] Smart, The Space-Time World, 2008, pg 385

[18] Ibid, pg 386

[19] Loux, Metaphysics a Contemporary Introduction (3rd Edition), 2007, pg 206

[20] Ibid, pg 212

[21] Ibid, pg 213

[22] Diogenes Laertius, Letter to Herodotus, 2.72

[23] Sextus Empiricus, Adversus Mathematicos, 89. 219

[24] Kant, Critique of Pure Reason, 1996, A31

[25] Ibid, B47

[26] Ibid, A35

[27] Ibid, B49-A33

%d bloggers like this: