Is time just an illusion?


by Outlandish_Existence
Tags: illusion, time
AnssiH
AnssiH is offline
#127
Dec11-06, 05:31 PM
P: 249
Quote Quote by Doctordick View Post
If nothing exists but the present, where do your memories come from. And finally, how can you think about the present? There isn't enough time for you to do anything!
In my materialistic view, memories or any thoughts exist as the physical configuration of the brain. I.e. memories don't "come from the past" of course, but they exist in the present. This is so in the static spacetime view too; no one has posited memories are things that lie in the past, connecting to the present, or something of that sort. I'm sure you don't mean to imply that either?

About "not having time to do anything", it seems to me that the idea where there would actually exist "time in motion" is rather confused and like I've said before, it seems more fruitful to think motion as more fundamental. I.e. to just think things really are in motion, and such is the case with the brain. In that sense, there can be said to be "a present moment", but not "time" as any other but semantical concept that is formed so to understand motion better (so to be able to handle abstract concepts dealing with motion).

This is still very very far from solving the Hard Problem of consciousness of course, but it doesn't make consciousness impossible. Rather the opposite seems to be true, it solves one problem that exists in static spacetime view.

Now that's a very nice sentiment, but does it really agree with his judgements?
Well perhaps I interpret him differently than you do. In any case, I'm sure we agree that it is the topology of spacetime that is of importance here, and whether something like simultaneity is thought to be relative or not, does not necessarily change the topology at all. I.e. does not change any observable properties of spacetime.

And why I'm paying attention to relativity of simultaneity is that in the view where there things really are in motion, there pretty much necessarily exists so-called "present moment" in a universal sense.

In short, it seems completely nuts to assume that present moment does not exist, on the virtue that this assumption makes spacetime diagrams geometrically more pleasing. Here I can only repeat; you can twist and bend your spacetime diagram to any shape that pleases your aesthetic eye, but as long as the topology does not change, it does not have any observable function.

I understood in your view there actually can be said to be one "present moment"?

Well, in my opinion, his perspective is distorted by undefendable assumptions which are the source of his failure; and the source of the failure of the physics community to established a TOE.
Yes, strictly speaking, his view is based on undefendable assumptions, as is the case of every model. We posit a set of fundamentals and explain observable phenomena with them. The postulates cannot be defeneded in any objective sense, their merit can only be judged on whether or not they produce the behaviour we observe in physical reality. While I think his philosophical arguments were quite weak at times, I would guess he knew very well that the postulates were always undefendable.

I have said many times that one can always take whatever physical behaviour we observe, and build arbitrary number of radically different models that all yield the same observables. It may not be easy to build many radically different models, but it certainly is possible. All posit different fundamentals, and all are equally undefendable. We are pretty much in the dark as far as any "true ontology" goes.

And this is what I would say is why we don't have a TOE. It is also why I say we will never have any single TOE. We can come up with math that makes the correct predictions every time. But we cannot interpret the math in any explicit sense. It is always possible to build arbitrary number of interpetations that posit different fundamentals that work with different unobservable concepts and mechanics, and all give the same observable results.

Absolutely correct. Perhaps you can get your mind around another very perplexing problem (solved by no one except myself because no one has seriously examined it). Which comes first, your senses of reality or your mental model of reality: i.e., how do you model your senses without a mental model of reality? The correct answer is, you cannot! The clue to solving the problem is realizing that you are free to model your senses: i.e., how your senses work can not be taken as an [i]a-priori[i] given. They should, instead, be taken as a free parameter which can be used to build a solution to the problem of understanding reality.
Exactly right. I have made this same assertion many times here and on other forums. And I am arguing about this very same fact on another forum currently, but it seems to go too much counter to many people's intuition for them to pick it up too readily. People tend to hang on to some aspect of naive realism without realizing it.

-Anssi
mosassam
mosassam is offline
#128
Dec11-06, 09:48 PM
P: 192
Many thanks to AnssiH for your time and effort, it was only one billion miles above my head but thanks all the same (things I have no chance of ever understanding - topology, Einstein's theory of relativity including the 'standard interpretation', simultaneity, spacetime blocks and on and on). Half way through your explanation was this statement of obvious importance as it was in bold - "it is the topology of spacetime that is physically important and observable". I Googled topology which said it was a branch of mathematics. As I understand it you are saying that it is the mathematics of spacetime that is physically observable! I am seriously out of my depth.
PS. Do you have a layman's description of Time handy?
mosassam
mosassam is offline
#129
Dec11-06, 10:51 PM
P: 192
As to the issue of the necessity of the concept "time", if you are to hold the opinion that the concept "time" is unnecessary for a description of your experiences, I would ask you how you propose to reference change in your knowledge?
I have been blundering around this and other forums trying to get my head around Time. It is becoming increasingly apparent that I should be focussing on Change. Time is a byproduct of Change and, as such, can be used to measure it. The only 'model' I can think of for Change, in physics terms, is Cause-and-Effect. I would argue that this, like Time, is also a byproduct of Change. On one of the forums somebody asked "What was the initial Cause?". This argument came to me:-
Q: What is the initial cause of Change?
A: Change
Q: What is the Effect?
A: Change
It seems to me that physics uses Time and Cause-and-Effect to describe and measure Change but this is like describing a ship by looking at its wake - sure, you might be able to deduce a couple of things but why not just look at the ship? Is there a part of physics that strikes at the heart of what Change is? Unfortunately, the only other area of study deaing with this area is Zen Buddhism and I look awful in orange. It clashes with my eyes.
PS: Getting back to the opening quote from Dr.Dick - At the moment I cannot say how I would propose to reference change in my knowledge, it is starting to appear that knowledge is yet another byproduct of Change. Maybe what is required is a comprehensive understanding (awareness) of Change, one in which Knowledge, Time and many other elements have their place.
This is either a very cheesy circular argument or there is a way of comprehending Change 'from the inside out' as it were.
mosassam
mosassam is offline
#130
Dec11-06, 10:53 PM
P: 192
The quote at the top of my last post was from Dr.Dick - post#126
AnssiH
AnssiH is offline
#131
Dec12-06, 02:26 AM
P: 249
Quote Quote by mosassam View Post
Many thanks to AnssiH for your time and effort, it was only one billion miles above my head but thanks all the same (things I have no chance of ever understanding - topology, Einstein's theory of relativity including the 'standard interpretation', simultaneity, spacetime blocks and on and on). Half way through your explanation was this statement of obvious importance as it was in bold - "it is the topology of spacetime that is physically important and observable". I Googled topology which said it was a branch of mathematics. As I understand it you are saying that it is the mathematics of spacetime that is physically observable!
No that's not quite what I'm saying. Topology refers to the way things connect. If you draw a set of lines that intersect each others on a surface of a balloon, you have drawn a network with certain connections; certain topology. Now if you inflate the balloon, the topology does not change while the network gets larger.

In relativity, when you perform Lorentz-transformation so to get from one inertial frame to another, you basically scale the spacetime:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:L...world_line.gif

Horizontal is space and vertical is time, the dots mark "events". In the center is an observer, and a vertical line in the middle would mark his "now moment" in the simplest interpretation. Notice how it keeps changing in such manner that some events that had already passed "now", can go back from the past to the future. This is not observed of course since the topology does not change; the light about such events has not reach our observer, instead the observer sees events as they pass the lower diagonal lines (which mark the trajectory of light). Notice how events never pass this line backwards.

If you draw trajectories of light between the events in such spacetime, the way events connect, i.e. their topology does not change no matter how much you scale the spacetime:

http://www.saunalahti.fi/~anshyy/Phy...formation1.jpg
http://www.saunalahti.fi/~anshyy/Phy...formation2.jpg
http://www.saunalahti.fi/~anshyy/Suhteellisuus.avi

I.e. causality remains. If event A connects to event B, it will be so after the scaling as well.

Any physical system that is part of such spacetime cannot actually measure this scaling since it gets scaled itself as well (spatially and temporally), instead it can measure the topology; i.e. one clock can not measure time in metaphysical sense, but it can look at another clock and observe if one is advancing faster than the other.

It is the way things connect that gives us such measurable effects that we call time dilation, although performing Lorentz-transformation was and is a handy way to understand how the topology ends up this way; how do physical processes advance in relation to each others.

PS. Do you have a layman's description of Time handy?
There is no such thing as layman's description of time. There are only different ontological views, and it is rather complicated to try and sort them out. We can never be sure about the nature of time, and personally I tend to assume that motion does objectively exist even without conscious observer, and that past has already happened and it is gone forever; it does not exist in some sort of metaphysical spacetime. And likewise, future has not happened yet and does not exist.

Time then is just a man-made concept, and an exceedingly confused one.

-Anssi
Doctordick
Doctordick is offline
#132
Dec12-06, 09:15 AM
P: 625
If you want to understand anything, you have to get down to the nitty gritty (so to speak). We have to make it very clear exactly what we are talking about. That is exactly what the ontology/epistemology division is all about. Fundamentally,the goal of science is to explain reality! (If you don't regard that statement as true then we have very little to talk about. )

Presuming you agree with me, the first question becomes, exactly what is reality? Well, that is the very issue of ontology. Ontology is the study of exactly what you have to work with! The problem most everyone seems to have with the issue of ontology is that they cannot comprehend not knowing what they have to work with and thus fail at the very first step. The issue being that the moment you put meaning to any ontological element, you are already outside the field of ontology and discussing epistemology: i.e., attaching meaning to an ontological element requires understanding the explanation of a definition and that is the essence of epistemology.

The issue then becomes, is it necessary for one to know what they are talking about in order to talk about it? The answer to that question is a resounding, why certainly not! We talk about things we do not understand all the time. Science could not even exist if we couldn't talk about things we don't understand. All that is required is a method of referring to what ever it is we are trying to discuss! Does anyone here claim to know what reality is? That is, do any of you pretend to be experts on the correct explanation of reality? Does that mean we cannot discuss the issue? The point is that the word "reality" is no more than a label for what it is we are discussing and "understanding what reality is" is not necessary in order to refer to it. In fact, exactly what label we use to refer to it is of no real consequence (only the severely uneducated think the symbols used for words contain their meaning). The point of that comment is that it is always the listener who must divine what it is that is being referred to; that is what "understanding a language" is all about and understanding itself is a presumption, not a provable fact. (That is why "misunderstandings" are such a common phenomena! )

Thus one must be drawn to the conclusion that the ontological elements which constitute reality must be left undefined: i.e., the definitions are part and parcel of our understanding of reality which, in the final analysis, must be held as a presumption beyond proof. It follows that the ontology of reality is an undefined collection of elements, the references to which (and the definitions we assign to those references) constitute our understanding of it, whether our understanding be valid or not.

Thus I arrive at the very first epistemological absolute which can be pronounced. The word "past" can be used to refer to the entire collection of ontological elements of reality of which I am aware. That pronouncement depends upon only one fact and one fact only. That fact is the absolute validity of the following presumption: I cannot prove that what I know is indeed, the entire truth, i.e., change in my knowledge is possible. By simple dichotomy, the word "future" refers to what is not the past and the word "present" refers to the boundary between the two: i.e., a change in that of which I am aware. (The existence of this possibility is so obvious that most people seem to believe it is all that really exists. )

Time is thus the most basic epistemological absolute and its existence is required by the simple fact that we are not all knowing. Also, it follows from the above analytic definition that the only thing we can be sure exists is "the past". (And the present only truly exists as it becomes part of the past: mathematically, one could say that the past is a closed set, i.e., the boundary is included in the set. )

Now, if you cannot follow that, I feel you are beyond my help.

Have fun -- Dick
mosassam
mosassam is offline
#133
Dec12-06, 10:02 AM
P: 192
Profound thanks to both AnissH and Dr.Dick. There's a lot in your posts I've got to get my head round but I feel you've steered me in the right direction. Take it easy.
AnssiH
AnssiH is offline
#134
Dec13-06, 06:18 AM
P: 249
Quote Quote by Doctordick View Post
If you want to understand anything, you have to get down to the nitty gritty (so to speak). We have to make it very clear exactly what we are talking about. That is exactly what the ontology/epistemology division is all about. Fundamentally,the goal of science is to explain reality! (If you don't regard that statement as true then we have very little to talk about. )

Presuming you agree with me, the first question becomes, exactly what is reality? Well, that is the very issue of ontology. Ontology is the study of exactly what you have to work with! The problem most everyone seems to have with the issue of ontology is that they cannot comprehend not knowing what they have to work with and thus fail at the very first step. The issue being that the moment you put meaning to any ontological element, you are already outside the field of ontology and discussing epistemology: i.e., attaching meaning to an ontological element requires understanding the explanation of a definition and that is the essence of epistemology.

The issue then becomes, is it necessary for one to know what they are talking about in order to talk about it? The answer to that question is a resounding, why certainly not! We talk about things we do not understand all the time. Science could not even exist if we couldn't talk about things we don't understand. All that is required is a method of referring to what ever it is we are trying to discuss! Does anyone here claim to know what reality is? That is, do any of you pretend to be experts on the correct explanation of reality? Does that mean we cannot discuss the issue? The point is that the word "reality" is no more than a label for what it is we are discussing and "understanding what reality is" is not necessary in order to refer to it. In fact, exactly what label we use to refer to it is of no real consequence (only the severely uneducated think the symbols used for words contain their meaning). The point of that comment is that it is always the listener who must divine what it is that is being referred to; that is what "understanding a language" is all about and understanding itself is a presumption, not a provable fact. (That is why "misunderstandings" are such a common phenomena! )

Thus one must be drawn to the conclusion that the ontological elements which constitute reality must be left undefined: i.e., the definitions are part and parcel of our understanding of reality which, in the final analysis, must be held as a presumption beyond proof. It follows that the ontology of reality is an undefined collection of elements, the references to which (and the definitions we assign to those references) constitute our understanding of it, whether our understanding be valid or not.
Yes, that is all very important to keep in mind. While one cannot understand a single instance of a noumenon, the concept of noumenons must be firmly understood (and consequently, questions of ontology are unanswerable but nevertheless important).

I arrived to similar concept myself without knowing Kant had used it already over 200 years ago. And still it is not as widely understood as it should. Still people refuse to see over their intuitive naive realist views.


Thus I arrive at the very first epistemological absolute which can be pronounced. The word "past" can be used to refer to the entire collection of ontological elements of reality of which I am aware. That pronouncement depends upon only one fact and one fact only. That fact is the absolute validity of the following presumption: I cannot prove that what I know is indeed, the entire truth, i.e., change in my knowledge is possible. By simple dichotomy, the word "future" refers to what is not the past and the word "present" refers to the boundary between the two: i.e., a change in that of which I am aware. (The existence of this possibility is so obvious that most people seem to believe it is all that really exists. )

Time is thus the most basic epistemological absolute and its existence is required by the simple fact that we are not all knowing. Also, it follows from the above analytic definition that the only thing we can be sure exists is "the past". (And the present only truly exists as it becomes part of the past: mathematically, one could say that the past is a closed set, i.e., the boundary is included in the set. )

Now, if you cannot follow that, I feel you are beyond my help.
If I am following you correctly here, I have to say that I would not feel the need to see reality exactly this way. For one, physical things in present moment can express the past, so while we do have memories, we can still choose to understand reality in terms of only present moment existing.

And I have another issue with thinking in terms of "time that moves", or time serving as some kind of backdrop for making motion possible. While you probably need to use the concept of "time" one way or another in order to express motion (in math or just imagining motion in your head), it doesn't mean that real motion could not be more fundamental than time. I.e. that "time" is merely a concept we tend to classify reality, much the same way as "count" may be the way we understand clusters of things (i.e. "numbers" don't need to exist metaphysically for banana clusters to exist, since numbers are our own way to classify the clusters)

So just because we need the concept of time to understand motion, does not mean reality needs it to "produce motion". We comprehend reality by some self-made concepts, and "cannot meaningfully conceive an object that isn't structured in accordance with the categories of the understanding, such as substance and causality" (handy wikipedia quote)

Of course any astute person also readily recognizes that motion is just as much a man-made concept as time and as such these views should be equally valid, so I would like to be more careful in my assertion and just claim that it is merely useful for many purposes to assume that motion is more fundamental than time, and it is certainly useful to recognize that "time", as a backdrop for motion, is not necessarily of fundamental existence at all.
mosassam
mosassam is offline
#135
Dec13-06, 10:31 AM
P: 192
[QUOTE=AnssiH;1188178]

I arrived to similar concept myself without knowing Kant had used it already over 200 years ago.
Kant! Ontology!! You guys know your physics but this is surely philosophy! This I can do.
Last night I had an important insight (important to me at least) about Time. Bear with me because this is going to seem quite facile at first.
It's always NOW. Everything is always NOW. When I had my insight it is NOW, as I'm writing this it is NOW, when you read this it is NOW, as you compose your reply it is NOW, as you type it in it is NOW. I was born in NOW, I will die in it also.
We build and play with the most complex constructs and concepts to describe reality, we talk about memories or the ability to predict what will happen if I throw something up in the air, we see ourselves growing older - all these things happen in our mind and convince us Time is passing, that there is a past that we can remember and that there is a future we can guess about but they are shadows compared to the brutal reality of NOW.
( Man!! I've just read what I've written and it looks like some loonball **** but I really need to get this point across - you may try and hide from NOW by saying "Well other philosophers have pointed this out in the past such as ..." but it doesn't fool NOW which is still with you, right NOW.
Here's a little experiment - consciously try not to skip to the end of the following sentence, which is going to end with the word NOW. Start observing Time passing as you read this sentence and even if its only a matter of seconds that have passed since you began your observation you will still find that by the time you have reached the end of this badly constructed sentence it is still NOW.
Fundamental truth #1 - It is always NOW.
This is not subjective, it is an objective reality.
Question 1 - How can the objective reality of NOW be proved?

So just because we need the concept of time to understand motion, does not mean reality needs it to "produce motion".
Time is a trick we play on ourselves and call it a concept to give it some 'reality' in the same way an illusion really is an illusion because we understand the concept of illusion. As such it can 'produce' nothing, let alone motion.

Of course any astute person also readily recognizes that motion is just as much a man-made concept as time
I must admit that my duded-up new insight can't cover this. In one of my earlier posts I stated that Cause-and-Effect and Time were both byproducts of Change but, whereas I can directly intuit the "Illusion of Time", I can't do the same thing with the "Illusion of Motion"!!
This leads to my final questions:-
#2 - How is motion a man-made concept?
#3 - What is Change? (By this I don't mean 'What is the effect of Change' or 'Where did it come from', I mean "What is the 'fabric' of Change?"
PS - (for AnissH) I noticed that the Lorentz-transformation you guided me to already has an inbuilt Time axis as, I assume, does the notion of Spacetime. Aren't both of these things founded on an erroneous 'concept' of Time or do they arrive at the notion of Time independently. Are they both just games that people play in their minds or do they have a 'solidity' in the same way NOW does?
Remember, it is NOW.
Doctordick
Doctordick is offline
#136
Dec13-06, 11:26 AM
P: 625
Quote Quote by mosassam View Post
Fundamental truth #1 - It is always NOW.
All you are really saying is that "your awareness of reality is always changing".
Quote Quote by Doctordick View Post
By simple dichotomy, the word "future" refers to what is not the past and the word "present" refers to the boundary between the two: i.e., a change in that of which I am aware. (The existence of this possibility is so obvious that most people seem to believe it is all that really exists. )
It seems you have just fallen into exactly the intellectual trap I was referring to.

Have fun -- Dick
Tournesol
Tournesol is offline
#137
Dec13-06, 12:24 PM
P: 732
[QUOTE=mosassam;1188350]
Quote Quote by AnssiH View Post


#2 - How is motion a man-made concept?
People are always saying things like that, but I have never seen any clear criteria
for the man-made concept vs. natural concept distinction.

#3 - What is Change?
The same thing being in different states at different times.
nannoh
nannoh is offline
#138
Dec13-06, 12:46 PM
P: 236
about change being

=Tournesol



The same thing being in different states at different times.
Is it possible for a "thing" to be the same "thing" when it is in a different state at a different stage of "change"? Isn't the fundamental nature of a "thing" or event different from state to state as it reacts or changes to various states?

For instance is frozen water in the winter the same water you swam in during the summer? Will it be the same water that was frozen in winter next summer when you swim in it? Or was the water fundamentally changed as it passed through condition after condition to the point where, if you were able to fingerprint the water, its actual fingerprint would be completely different from the original inking?
Tournesol
Tournesol is offline
#139
Dec13-06, 01:02 PM
P: 732
Quote Quote by Anssi
About "not having time to do anything", it seems to me that the idea where there would actually exist "time in motion" is rather confused and like I've said before, it seems more fruitful to think motion as more fundamental. I.e. to just think things really are in motion, and such is the case with the brain. In that sense, there can be said to be "a present moment", but not "time" as any other but semantical concept that is formed so to understand motion better (so to be able to handle abstract concepts dealing with motion).
So motion is an unsemantical object. How did that happen? What is
an unsemantical concept anyway? You usually claim that all
concepts are semantical.
Tournesol
Tournesol is offline
#140
Dec13-06, 01:07 PM
P: 732
Quote Quote by nannoh View Post
about change being
Is it possible for a "thing" to be the same "thing" when it is in a different state at a different stage of "change"?
It is if you make a distinction between essential and accidental properties.

Isn't the fundamental nature of a "thing" or event different from state to state as it reacts or changes to various states?

For instance is frozen water in the winter the same water you swam in during the summer?
If is is the same molecules,yes,

Will it be the same water that was frozen in winter next summer when you swim in it? Or was the water fundamentally changed as it passed through condition after condition to the point where, if you were able to fingerprint the water, its actual fingerprint would be completely different from the original inking?
what is this "fingerprint"?
Tournesol
Tournesol is offline
#141
Dec13-06, 01:22 PM
P: 732
Quote Quote by Anssi
This view of course goes counter to our subjective experience, and sure enough, is problematic when you try to actually understand the nature of subjective experience. But here one can choose to interpret spacetime differently, without losing any observable effects of relativity. These would be different ontological views of time, that no one can prove or disprove with an experiement

The subjective sense of time is a datum, too.
nannoh
nannoh is offline
#142
Dec13-06, 04:51 PM
P: 236
Quote Quote by Tournesol View Post
It is if you make a distinction between essential and accidental properties.
Ah. Essential properties certainly would distinguish water as water no matter what state is was in. For instance, if water becomes a vapor it is still essentially H20 even if its molecules have separated enough to be air bourn. But here we see two essential properties, air (with all its accidental properties that make it air) and water, mixing to create a third property (accidental or not?) vapor. Is the water still water or is it vapor?


If is is the same molecules,yes,
It can be argued that accidental properties that enter the essential property of water (H2O) change the properties of that portion of water. Water has been studied and shown to actually mimic the chemical being introduced to its molecular structure. Its thought that this is a mechanism of disolution.



what is this "fingerprint"?
I am refering to the fingerprint of say the water in Lake Heron as opposed to the fingerprint of the water in Crater Lake. The trace contents and predominant characteristics of each source of water are different from one another. But, as you've pointed out, the distinguishing characteristics between the two water sources are determined by what you call the accidental properties found within the essential property, water.
Tournesol
Tournesol is offline
#143
Dec13-06, 09:02 PM
P: 732
Quote Quote by nannoh View Post
It can be argued that accidental properties that enter the essential property of water (H2O) change the properties of that portion of water. Water has been studied and shown to actually mimic the chemical being introduced to its molecular structure. .
What the BLEEP

mosassam
mosassam is offline
#144
Dec13-06, 10:01 PM
P: 192
[QUOTE=Doctordick;1188391]
All you are really saying is that "your awareness of reality is always changing".
:

When I say "It is always NOW", I'm not referring to myself. I am saying that NOW is an objective reality standing outside my own awareness. Unlike myself, NOW has always existed. Also, I'm not sure what you mean by awareness.
I understand that you my think this is some kind of intellectual game, like ontology or epistemology, but I am really trying to stress that NOW, unlike Time, is an objective reality and one we all exerience simultaneously. NOW, like LIfe (the Animating Principle), is not a concept or a construct or an opinion - it's a fact.

It seems you have just fallen into exactly the intellectual trap I was referring to.
Again, I'm not trying to perform an intellectal 'stunt', I'm pointing in the face of something called NOW and saying "Check this out!". NOW is not something I'm making up in my brain, it's not something to be debated about, it is something to be seen.
Stop all thought, stop all memory, stop all the usual nonsense of the mind and you will see NOW.
(I do wish this wasn't all coming out like mystical mumbo-jumbo but there are two problems - #1. the subject matter doesn't lend itself to 'normal' description. #2. my recent insight into this aspect of reality has hit me like a sledgehammer and I'm desparate not to be misunderstood, so I'm probably coming off a bit zealous at the minute. I think a wise move at this juncture would be to lay off the posting until I come down a bit.



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