The Unreality of Time

My messages to the everything-list:

28.07.2012 22:23:

John Ellis McTaggart
The Unreality of Time
Mind: A Quarterly Review of Psychology and Philosophy 17 (1908): 456-473

I have learned about the McTaggart’s A- and B-series from John Yates.

Now I have found the original paper by McTaggart in Internet:

In the paper, the author proves that time is unreal. He first introduces the A-series that contain past, present, and future and then shows that this idea is self-contradictory.

I should say that the paper is popular nowadays as well, Google Scholar shows about 700 citations.

The paper is relatively short (about 8500 words) and it is nice. I like it.

29.07.2012 08:35:

I do not see how Einstein could describe the transition from being to becoming. Einstein’s four-dimensional timespace does not have changes. This is the reason why Popper has called him once as four-dimensional Parmenides.

In Einstein’s general theory of relativity, one could after all introduce the B-series. Yet, the A-series are not there.

29.07.2012 16:18:

I guess that science is based on observation and hence it might be good to define what observation is. To this end, past, present and future seems to be quite a crucial concept. First a scientist plans an experiment. Hence at the beginning the experiment is in the future. Then the scientist performs the experiment and eventually the experiment is in the past.

Recently I have written about Grand Design by Hawking. It seems that according to you, the M-theory could be an ultimate cause. Yet, it does not contain the A-series based on past, present and future. One will find there at best the B-series only. It is unclear to me how the M-theory could describe a scientist planning and performing an experiment.

31.07.2012 21:58:

The world in the brain that is congruent with the world outside of the brain brings us a paradox, as described by Max Velmans:

“Lehar (2003), however, points out that if the phenomenal world is inside the brain, the real skull must be outside the phenomenal world (the former and the latter are logically equivalent). Let me be clear: if one accepts that

a) The phenomenal world appears to have spatial extension to the perceived horizon and dome of the sky.
b) The phenomenal world is really inside the brain.

It follows that

c) The real skull (as opposed to the phenomenal skull) is beyond the perceived horizon and dome of the sky.“

Some problem here is that science that we know has started with observations and we make these observations in the three dimensional world that we observe outside of our body/brain. Now if we say that actually what we consciously observe is in the brain, then we should reconsider as well what observation is.

Hence my interest to skeptic arguments. For example, see famous ‘Proof of an External World’ by Moore

“How? By holding up my two hands, and saying, as I make a certain gesture with the right hand, ‘Here is one hand’, and adding, as I make a certain gesture with the left, ‘and here is another’ (‘Proof of an External World’ 166).”

“I knew that there was one hand in the place indicated by combining a certain gesture with my first utterance of ‘here’ and that there was another in the different place indicated by combining a certain gesture with my second utterance of ‘here’. How absurd it would be to suggest that I did not know it, but only believed it, and that perhaps it was not the case! You might as well suggest that I do not know that I am now standing up and talking — that perhaps after all I’m not, and that it’s not quite certain that I am! (‘Proof of an External World’ 166)”

With the picture as described by you, this does not work any more.

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