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Time as a self-reflective process

  1. Jan 30, 2005 #1
    Several years ago I had an idea about time which I thougth had to be tested, as it seemed to give solutions to a lot of philosphical problems I had. The idea seemed to be too good to be true, so I tried hard to find any serious errors, but I have not been able to find any. It wasn't easy to formulate the idea in words however, so I have tried a somewhat unusual approach, relying on the reader's visual imagination.
    Now, at last, I am rather satisfied with the result. But I have one big problem: it still seems to be too difficult for others to understand (even if it is written in plain language, not demanding any special scientific or philosophical education). I have tried to localize the difficulties, but I need some help from others, and that's why I post it here (which seems to be a very interesting forum) as a pdf file, and hope for any reactions. A discussion on any aspect of it would be very appreciated. Here is the file: http://home.swipnet.se/bo_herlin/pdf/time.pdf
    Hope my eventual errors in english, not being my first language, will be excused.
    Thanks, Bo
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 30, 2005 #2

    Les Sleeth

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    I found the writing in your link to be too small to comfortably read. Perhaps you could write a short essay here to explain your ideas, and include your diagrams to help us understand your concepts.
  4. Jan 31, 2005 #3
    Les Sleeth wrote

    This version may be easier to handle: http://home.swipnet.se/bo_herlin/pdf/time_4pA4.pdf .
    I don't know how I could include the diagrams in this forum, they may be too complicated, so I hope this pdf will work - the pages can be enlarged in the Adobe reader.

    I have thought a lot about how to explain my ideas, and the result is a longer essay in Swedish, which I have fond difficult to translate, and this concentrated version in english. The problem I have in writing an essay is that I do'nt really know which the difficulties are for the reader. The main idea is in fact very simple, but at the same time hard to grasp when you are used to think about time either as a geometrical dimension or as a flux in one direction.

    Les Sleeth wrote in the 'Time'-thread:

    This was my absolute persuasion several years ago, when I as a philosophical exercise started to doubt this. As a wild idea I tried to imagine that the past might exist somewhere "behind" the present -- but if it really did exist, of course we couldn't know about it, as we can not reverse the time, and the idea would be without meaning.

    But there is a problem with the idea that only the present exists. If matter is to be regarded as a process then at least the immediate past is of some importance however small you make the interval. Then the geometric concept of time is more appropriate. But with this concept the flux of time and the present disappears.

    So, how can you keep the reality of the present and at the same time make justice to the past? Perhaps the idea that the past still exists somewhere "behind" the present wasn't so bad after all. This hypothetical existence could, for example, explain the relative stability of the present, the resistance to change and the possibility of induction. But then you would have to suppose some kind of invisible interaction (a dangerous "religious" idea), you would need a second concept of time, and you would need a concept for the unrealized future, a kind of original chaos. This is against Occam's Razor, but why not examine it and see if is useful and where it leads?

    This is what I have tried to do (at least a very modest start).
  5. Jan 31, 2005 #4

    Les Sleeth

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    It does show up better, but I am afraid I found the material too dense for me to easily grasp (I only have so much time in a day :smile:). If you are looking for feedback, I've found it works best to post one idea at a time.

    I can't understand why you think we need the past to continue to exist in order to account for stability in the present. As far as I can tell, the present has all it needs to explain its current level of stability.

    Also, if the past were to continue unabated, then there could be no present because the present is brought about by change from past conditions. It is change that creates time, so it is contradictory to say the past remains constant (i.e., exists) yet there is a new present every instant. In other words, the present exists at the expense of the past.
    Last edited: Jan 31, 2005
  6. Jan 31, 2005 #5
    A still existing "past" as a possibility

    Thanks for the response, Les. I had to have something to start with, and this helps me, it is just the kind of feedback I needed.
    I'll try to follow your advice to post one idea at a time, having the illustrations and the concentrated formulations of my pdf file as a reference.

    Starting with the question if "we need the past to continue to exist in order to account for stability in the present", one may "take a step backwards" and, for a while, think of this "past" as just a possibility.

    If you accept the idea that matter is equivalent with energy and that energy appears as quanta of waves, to express it simply, you have a kind of "process image" of "that which exists", without any substances, just waves. This is possible because a wave can be construed as a periodic change of the period (or the amount of change) of another wave, and so on, ad infinitum. Thinking of substances (like strings) doesn't make things easier, so let's start with just waves of waves.
    Now, if you accept the above, and regard the present and the flux of time as real phenomena (not every physicist does) you may start a very hypothetical and rough modelling, as I have done on p. 3 in my pdf file:

    Before the beginning there was only chaos
    a chaos of wave within wave without end, without time …
    Then some of these waves were organized into rays of light
    that were propagated in various directions.
    At the tip of each ray time moved forward
    and at the back of time was incipient life
    which multiplied the rays
    to form ever more branches.
    ... etc.

    This hypothetical start from "nothing" would have been much more difficult to imagine without the concept of a propagating ray, corresponding, for instance, to an elementary particle (possible to transform into - and to regard as - a ray of light). To create a unity you need a network, but this would be difficult for "point particles" or vibrating strings in a primordial chaos. If the necessary network exists from the start everything is more easy.

    I stop here, because it is getting late in Sweden, and hope for some reactions.
  7. Feb 4, 2005 #6
    Violation of Guidelines?

    Being new to this forum, I wasn't aware of this passage in the Forum's Guidelines (https://www.physicsforums.com/showthread.php?t=5374) when I started this thread.

    Even if I don't think that I have made any "unfounded challenges of mainstream science", I may have advertised a personal theory. (But I am not sure if my "proposal" may qualify as a "theory".)
    It is also stated in the guidelines that:

    So, you may express your "own ideas" but it is not tolerated to advertise "a personal theory".
    This leaves me in doubt whether I have violated the guidelines or not.

    (In "Wikipedia" I found:
    Ackording to the first definition my "proposal" may perhaps be called a theory, ackording to the second definition it is not.)
    Last edited: Feb 4, 2005
  8. Feb 13, 2005 #7
    I once had the very simple idea, that one might arrive at a more true model of the world by cutting off the "worldlines" of the "spacetime continuum", just where the present of a certain observer is supposed to be.
    But the consequences of this idea are extremely far-reaching: You have to replace "the future" whith something not yet formed, e.g. a hypothetic chaos, and reconsider the nature of "the past", for example. As a result the static ("block universe") worldview changes into a process view and the corresponding philosophy into a process philosophy - perhaps not very far from the process philosophy of Alfred North Whitehead (see http://www.ctr4process.org/ ) but with a different perspective. There is also a process physics under development by Reg Cahill at the Flinders University in Australia (see http://www.scieng.flinders.edu.au/cpes/people/cahill_r/processphysics.html ).
    Perhaps these sites, together with my model ( http://home.swipnet.se/bo_herlin/pdf/time.pdf ), may give an idea of possible process perspectives.

    But to discuss this, one would perhaps need a special forum dedicated to worldviews with a process concept of time.
    Last edited: Feb 13, 2005
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