Friday, April 29, 2005

Matt's Theory of Time

Matt does ancient philosophy, but is nevertheless a pretty good guy.
Unlike me, he's got a tenure-track position, so I'm a bit envious of
him. He's got this idea about time which I've never quite got. The
idea is that while space is purely relational, temporal relations are
actually physically present. I don't do philosophy of physics, but
somehow this doesn't make any sense to me. I mean, time can't be
substantival if space is. After all isn't our whole grasp on what's
substantival based on the idea of substantival SPACE? I tried to
explain this to him, but he doesn't seem to get it.

29 Comments:

Anonymous Alex said...

Nat, I think the way to get at Matt's idea is to think about thinking. Whenever we have some thought, that thought always occurs at some time, but needn't, conceptually, occur at some place. The point is a Cartesian one. We can only conceive of a thought as occuring at some time, but we can also conceive of a thought as occuring, without occuring at some particular place.

By making temporality the substantially basic notion, we vindicate the Cartesian asymmetry between time and space.

I'm not sure that makes any sense. But I'm also not sure that Matt's idea makes any sense, so...

2:00 AM  
Blogger Chris said...

Matt's theory seems strange to me too, especially if you accept Einstein's theory of special relativity.

10:20 PM  
Blogger Naxos "Nat" Simeon said...

I think Alex has a really good idea. Of course, Matt can't have such a view himself as he's a die-hard Aristotelain Monist. Also it's still not clear to me in what sense Time is a substance rather than just being a real one-directional relation.

As for Chris--it's a really interesting point. But of course there is a long literature defending space-tiem substantivalism in the face of general relativity. I can't see why there is any particular problem with being a substantivalist about time but not space.

10:33 PM  
Anonymous J. K. Barthakur said...

Why not read meta concept of time in my web site http://www.general-theory-of-time.org ?
Of course space is relational. Which is the formula where space appears as space? It is only the length, breadth and thickness that appears in a formula.
Thanks if you have read this.
J. K. Barthakur

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