Presentism and Eternalism

Discussion in 'General Philosophy' started by crocodile d, Jan 23, 2003.

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What is your view on the nature of time

  1. Presentist

    2 vote(s)
    22.2%
  2. Eternalist

    3 vote(s)
    33.3%
  3. Something else please explain

    2 vote(s)
    22.2%
  4. Unsure

    2 vote(s)
    22.2%
  1. crocodile d Registered Member

    Messages:
    25
    The perception of a present "now" time flowing from the past to the future is an illusion. It is an illusion because it give you the impression that the universe is just a bubble of reality travelling form its source at the big bang to where ever it is going in its future.
    Presentism is the view that only present objects exist. Thus, you and the Taj Mahal would be on the list, but neither Socrates nor any future Bases on Mars would be included And it's not just Socrates and future base on Mars, either -- the same goes for any other putative object that lacks the property of being contemporaneous to us. All such objects are unreal, according to Presentism.

    One alternative to Presentism is Eternalism, which says that objects from both the past and the future exist just as much as presently observed objects. According to Eternalism, non-present objects like Socrates and future bases on Mars exist in block time, even though they are not currently present to our perceptions. We may not be able to see them at our perceived moment, on this view, and they may not be in the same space-time vicinity that we find ourselves on our own subjective "now time", but they should nevertheless be on the list of all existing things.

    I like to use a "surfing carnival" analogy and if one is a presentist they believe that their lives are analogous riding on a board called "present" within a single wave called "reality", and when they a wiped out that is the end of their lives that is it and the wave just keeps rolling on without you. There would a strong ontological bias between the reality where you are dead and the reality where you are yet to be born as you only continue in the wave of reality where you are dead.

    An eternalist like me believes that all the events during the carnival are equally real, and not merely a single surfer surfing on a single wave so when you are wiped out then all the other waves and surfers are equally real. In this case there is no ontological bias between the events before you are born and the events after you die. So you can say you are both equally yet to be born and dead in a the realm of the block universe, with no more bias to being dead that not being born.
     
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  3. spacemanspiff czar of things Registered Senior Member

    Messages:
    823
    QUOTE]One alternative to Presentism is Eternalism, which says that objects from both the past and the future exist just as much as presently observed objects. According to Eternalism, non-present objects like Socrates and future bases on Mars exist in block time, even though they are not currently present to our perceptions. We may not be able to see them at our perceived moment, on this view, and they may not be in the same space-time vicinity that we find ourselves on our own subjective "now time", but they should nevertheless be on the list of all existing things. [/QUOTE]

    interesting. how would that explain what seems like everyone traveling on that time wave of sorts together?
     
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  5. wesmorris Nerd Overlord - we(s):1 of N Valued Senior Member

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    9,845
    has it occurred to you that maybe neither diagram is correct?
     
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  7. crocodile d Registered Member

    Messages:
    25
    If I would like the elaborate there could also be a many histories view where there are realities we do not observe, but the many histories on that third diagram is just an elaboration on eternalism.
     
  8. crocodile d Registered Member

    Messages:
    25
    Not necessarily, what if you were born 100 earlier. You would be observing a world in your subjective "now time" in the year 1903 because when you campare 100 years to 15 billions years of cosmic time before you were born, a margin of error of 100 years will never be noticed.
     
  9. Jaxom Tau Zero Registered Senior Member

    Messages:
    559
    And eternalism has no free will, being that all things are determined already, right?

    Given eternalism, why is the nature of time only one way?

    And lastly, how would one even tell which one is the correct model, since you're stuck in the same viewpoint on each?
     
  10. LaoTzu Registered Senior Member

    Messages:
    160
    So Many Choices

    Yup. That's why I would go with eternalism.

    It's not necessarily. Human perception of time is unidirectional.

    You can't; you can only observe the present. That's why I would go with presentism.

    I can't decide. My epistemological views push me towards presentism, but my model of reality pushes me towards eternalism, though in each case, the other view is still a possibility. If it came down to it, I would choose eternalism for its utility, since presentism offers no insight as to the prediction of the future or the attainment of goals, and eternalism does.
     
  11. notme2000 The Art Of Fact Registered Senior Member

    Messages:
    1,464
    There's no way to know, both seem equally likely and possible....
     
  12. Hoth Registered Senior Member

    Messages:
    383
    The fact that presentism directly contradicts general relativity isn't an indication?

    Presentism can't even define itself, it's nothing more than evasion. Ask a presentist how long the present lasts, and you get a blank stare. Ask them what makes time have this intrinsic flow, and they'll say "because that's a fundamental brute fact, it's not supposed to be explained." Presentism isn't a theory, it's the evasion of a theory.
     
    Last edited: Jan 23, 2003
  13. notme2000 The Art Of Fact Registered Senior Member

    Messages:
    1,464

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    And now I'm starting to lean towards eternalism... I'm new at this topic, so I have no experience in the matter.
     
  14. wesmorris Nerd Overlord - we(s):1 of N Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    9,845
    what would be the problem with removing the future half of the block from the presentist model? I think that's representative of apparent reality. what am I missing?
     
  15. wesmorris Nerd Overlord - we(s):1 of N Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    9,845
    oh, and I don't know if I'm a 'presentist' but I can tell you exactly how long the present lasts.

    it is the infinitessimal gap between the past and future. the perpetual moment at which probability collapses into history.

    I only say perpetual because while it doesn't last any "time" in terms of "along the timeline" it is omnipresent in that "it is always right now".

    So, it's infinitely small while not zero, yet infinitely large as in presence. Sounds like a black hole of sorts. *shrug*
     
  16. notme2000 The Art Of Fact Registered Senior Member

    Messages:
    1,464
    I hate to bring up Xeno's Paradox AGAIN, but if it's infinite, how do we get past it?
     
  17. LaoTzu Registered Senior Member

    Messages:
    160
    Here We Go!

    Hmm. Strong words, Mr. Hoth.

    A) Presentism: the ontological belief that the only point in time that exists is the present. The past and the future can only be experienced through the present, so there is no contradiction in saying that they are simply illusions that exist only as ideas in the present moment.

    B) The present is exactly zero seconds long. A point in space-time is exactly zero meters long, zero meters wide, zero meters thick, and zero seconds long.

    C) The present can be said to have a "flow." This is observed with and limited by human perception. It could also be said not to have a flow; it is instantaneous; the illusion of flow is there.

    D) Presentism is an epistemological theory, and a valid one at that. Eternalism is more useful. Presentism conceivably allows for free will, which is probably why most atheists, including myself (to a degree), are eternalists.
     
    Last edited: Jan 24, 2003
  18. LaoTzu Registered Senior Member

    Messages:
    160
    Figured It Was Relevant

     
  19. LaoTzu Registered Senior Member

    Messages:
    160
    Whoopeee!

    This assumes that we must first "get past" the infinite amount of time (and presumably within a finite timeframe). It's also playing with infinity, which is fun to do, but misleading.


    1.
    If I have the limit of a fraction whose numerator and denominator both go to infinity, that does not mean that the fraction is equal to one. It does not mean it is undefined. It does not mean that it is infinity. It requires further scrutiny to determine what the limit is.

    If I multiply zero times infinity, what do I get? Zero, because all numbers equal zero when multiplied by zero? No. I don't get anything; it's undefined.

    The long and short of it is that infinity is not a number. It doesn't behave like a number, and it doesn't behave like we would at first think infinity would behave, either. Using it in any way other than with very strict mathematical methods is not logical.

    2.
    Also, getting past infinity doesn't seem absurd to me. Given an infinite amount of time, you can get past . . . an infinite amount of time.

    3.
    Also also, just because integers go from negative infinity to positive infinity doesn't mean there is no zero. We can start counting at any point we like, and still be able to use whatever number system we like.

    4.
    Finally (also also also), presentism doesn't even require unidirectional time flow (though it is a lot easier to imagine such a flow than it is to imagine the alternative). The alternative is an instantaneous illusion of flow.

    5.
    Of course, as I said, I'm mostly an eternalist. But I don't think this (Xeno's) argument should go unchallenged.
     
  20. notme2000 The Art Of Fact Registered Senior Member

    Messages:
    1,464
    I'm sorry, that makes no sense to me... Explain in another matter? It just seems it would TAKE infinity to CROSS infinity.
     
  21. Jaxom Tau Zero Registered Senior Member

    Messages:
    559
    I don't see how an atheist would prefer, or even default to eternalism. To not have free will and to accept the structure of eternalism, you'd have to have some creator or order dictated. Unless I missed an important factor, like maybe the universe as we see it is just a sliver of the whole thing, and we can't see past the present. But that gets to my second point. If one cannot see the difference between presentism and eternalism, then isn't the extra of eternalism unnecessary bulk, and via Occam's razor, not needed? What is eternalism needed to explain that simple present existance can't?
     
  22. LaoTzu Registered Senior Member

    Messages:
    160
    trireutroreiteprwoururtityyer

    I don't see why that would be the case.

    That is epistemologically true; we can't see anything but the present.

    This gets into the reasons for choosing simple atheism over all-out nihilism. I agree, Occam's Razor can be used to eliminate the eternalist mindframe. However, those who do are, I think, too quick to the cut. Occam's Razor is for eliminating unnecessary or unjustified statements.

    There can be considerable controversy over what one can base justifications on, but sensory data is the only mechanism for interaction that we have, so it has to involve that. We have sense data indicating a universe of some sort, and even some of its characteristics; thus, we believe in a universe. We infer from the behavior of our sense data the dimension of time.

    Thus, Occam's Razor is sheathed from the eternalist/presentist issue. Presentism calls the inference made by in eternalism an illusion, a false inference. Eternalism says that, though we are limited by our observations, this inference can still be true.
     
  23. LaoTzu Registered Senior Member

    Messages:
    160
    MATH 302

    Yes, it would, but so what? If the universe has already experienced that infinite amount of time, it's done with. Think of it this way: if the universe has experienced an infinite amount of time, then it would take an infinite amount of history to compose that time-span -- with this view, the absurdity is that we haven't gotten to the end yet! However, it is still a viable mind-frame.

    Like I said, this sort of thing (playing philosophy with infinity) is not rational. The concept of infinity belongs in mathematics, and without a proper mathematical consideration, it is meaningless. Mathematicians do not use infinity as an insurmountable barrier, but as a concept that can be ordered, observed, and catalogued. It is different, and often contrary to common sense, but it is not simply an obstacle one plops down in the past in order to keep the universe from jumping over it.

    Here is an illustration of the issue: Xeno's argument can be represented as such:

    s+ t= 0
    If s = -infinity
    -infinity + t= -infinity != 0
    <=> false ==> s!= -infinity

    . . . where sis the amount of history (not the usual written history, of course) the universe has, and tis the amount of time the universe has experienced. This assumes that the value of tcan be found in the set of complex numbers. There is no reason to assume this. If one assigns sthe value of "-infinity," there is no reason not to assume that t= +infinity. Then, it is POSSIBLE that s+ t= 0.

    Of course, any mathematician will tell you that -infinity + +infinity is meaningless without knowing exactly how the values were obtained. However, that is not a problem, since it is only necessary to show one counter-example to disprove the argument. Also, one could easily assume that the value of sis the exact opposite of the value of t, since that's how they were defined anyway.
     

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