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Author Topic: Time – does it exist?  (Read 999 times)
CygnusX1
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« on: 26/09/09 @ 20:45 »

Time – does it exist?

After reading another post here, I would like to propose that in fact, time does not exist at all, at least in the understanding of time as separate and autonomous phenomena?
That there is no 4th dimension that may be termed as time? (This does not negate the existence of a 4th dimension, only that it is not defined as time).

Time = the measurement of the rate of change, (of motion).

Without change, without motion, and with impermanence, all of existence and the Universe would be in a perpetual state of non-change. How could you define this state of non-change in terms of time? I don't think you could, and furthermore, that time itself would be irrelevant and cease to exist?

It is difficult to contemplate a state of eternal non-change, a state where absolutely no motion of string or particle or wavicle, nor change in quantum state occurs. All these terms are scientific, and these terms and meanings are deeply associated with change and motion and impermanence. Science and the contemporary understanding makes time an autonomous reality, yet it is commonly understood in these modern times that time is merely relative, with the dependence of truth and validity upon the observer and the observed, on both the subject and the object.

Since we humans associate everything we do and thus every action we take, in terms of the time it takes to happen, (for example leaving to catch a plane or train). We cannot disassociate from the passage of time, or a compulsive need to measure time, (with our clocks and watches, and positioning satellites etc). Even when we contemplate past memories or history itself, we as humans heavily associate time, a time-scale, a time period to all of these things. For this reason, time is predominantly a human condition for understanding and the contemplation of change.

Does an animal or lesser species, insect or plant have a contemplation of time?
Is the Universe, the cosmos, creation itself, concerned with time or the passage of time?

For either of the above the notion and the understanding and the reality of time may be irrelevant. There may be no internal clock or contemplation for a plant or the entire universe.

Time is a reality for our minds only, and thus we use it to reconcile rates of change, (of motion – all is motion), and in terms of position within a state of change. Thus it is defined as an autonomous reality when contemplating positioning and geometry, and defined, (erroneously) as an independent 4th dimension.

Sure time has it uses, and without it geometry becomes hopeless, and travelling becomes an ordeal, (especially concerning travelling to other planets). Yet this does not mean that time really exists other than merely for the contemplation of "the rate of change of motion"?

What do you think?

 Huh
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You are neither earth, water, fire, air or even ether.
For liberation know yourself as consisting of consciousness,
the witness of these.
[The Song of Ashtavakra (Ashtavakra Samhita) Chapter 1.3]
Gareth Southwell
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« Reply #1 on: 26/09/09 @ 22:55 »

I find all things to do with the philosophy of time deeply perplexing and confusing!

I think, however, that what you have said is the beginning of an argument that time does not really exist.

Firstly, as Einstein seems to have suggested, time is relative to position in space and motion. Once we accept this, then it would seem difficult to isolate an objective measure of change (which is what time really is). If the universe were changeless, would time cease to exist? Maybe not, for another key facet of time is our perception of it. Even if we are faced with something unchanging, it would seem that our conscious self-awareness might act as a means of measurement. I think it would be difficult to maintain this - we would 'drift off' and lose time - but the notion of subsequent states - even if only mental - would seem to be deeply ingrained in us (culturally or more profoundly, I don't know).

Incidentally, I think talk of the 4th dimension - whether as time or spatial - is confusing. The three dimensions have a clear meaning and purpose, but using the 4th to mean time seems to be applying the term to something inappropriate - it becomes metaphorical. On the other hand, I just can't get my head around spatial dimensions higher than the 3rd! I understand that there are mathematical proofs of such things, but there is always part of my brain which refuses to accept such talk!

For philosophical arguments for the non-existence of time, check out J.M.E. McTaggart: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/J._M._E._McTaggart
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CygnusX1
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« Reply #2 on: 27/09/09 @ 16:33 »

Well..

In my contemplation of the Universe in an absolute state of non-change, our consciousness and perceptions would also cease to exist. Scientifically, since there is absolutely no change in motion or circumstance there is in fact no thing to perceive, and no mind with which to perceive any change in circumstance. Thus awareness and self-awareness are overcome, and a state of nothingness would prevail?

Concerning the metaphysical, and specifically Brahman. This state of nothingness and union is described as eternal bliss. Brahman is described as eternally unchanging, yet has the potential for change. I would say that this state of non-change is eternal by definition? And thus time is once again irrelevant.

As far as the other dimensions are concerned – well don't even get me started!

Again, geometry dictates the rules here, yet if we reason – why do we associate the three planes of existence with separate dimensions that are manifest, (by fortunate happenstance?), rather than accept them as connected and united in our perception of this singular dimension of existence?

I know the maths needs to be reconciled, yet is maths, (and thus geometry), merely a consequence of our perceptions and understanding of logic and of change, (in position and velocity), or do these things also exist as separate phenomena? In fact, do any of the physical classical laws exist beyond the human mind and human perception?

Now see what you have done !
You have taken the focus of this argument way beyond the debate over merely time!

Thanks for the link.

 Wink
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You are neither earth, water, fire, air or even ether.
For liberation know yourself as consisting of consciousness,
the witness of these.
[The Song of Ashtavakra (Ashtavakra Samhita) Chapter 1.3]
Gareth Southwell
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« Reply #3 on: 28/09/09 @ 08:55 »

Well, it's all relevant to the discussion of time, I think - just a bit daunting!

As regards bliss/absolute non-change, then it seems that there is no difference between such a universe and death/non-existence - wouldn't you say?

Regarding geometry, I think you are right. Why should we consider the three dimensions to cohere into one explanation? I think it's probably more accurate to think of each dimension as an abstraction from unified experience. So, we experience three (at least), which we 'unpack'. Perhaps it might have been possible/be possible to unpack this unified experience in a different way - into numerous dimensions, or less. I'm not saying this isn't possible, but I just wonder whether, having defined dimensions as features of the physical in the first place, we then go on to talk of them as non-spatial, or temporal, or spatial-in-a-different-way, or whatever. (Actually, this is interesting - perhaps we can start a different thread on this?) I have a book on this, actually, which I should read.

As for time, I do still hang on to the idea that it is connected with the sequence of thoughts - but I suppose it is possible to imagine experience structured in a different way. What about this for a thought experiment: you are a disembodied being; you exist somewhere that has no physical events that follow on from one another (and that would give you a sense of time); do you still have a sense of time? Perhaps we could explore this?

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CygnusX1
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« Reply #4 on: 28/09/09 @ 21:15 »

Indeed, the state of the bliss/absolute non-change is precisely described in Hinduism as a state of nothingness, (and the belief is, this is where you disappear to every night during deep blissful sleep). Yet Brahman is much more than merely nothingness it is everything-ness, and the all-encompassing potential (a difficult concept to contemplate).

May it be likened to death? Well I believe so, in which case we are all saved in our final hour, and eternal bliss and our saviour is a certainty? (Yet it is your state of mind at the point of death that is most important, as it is with the Abrahamic faiths – Atonement or denial? Acceptance or fear? And where does this leave rebirth and reincarnation? – You may well ask, have a think and decide.

Also checkout what Sri Ramana Maharshi says regarding final freedom, (moksha), death, and the enlightened knowledgeable Jnani, who still appears as manifest even when enlightened, both to himself and to others, (Ajnani). The Yogi may find enlightenment in life through self-knowledge, yet only in death does he return to Brahman and escape the cycle of Samsara.


Regarding geometry..

Perhaps this is merely a problem regarding definitions, terms and semantics?

Does the term "dimension" refer to spatial co-ordinates and planes in a singular existence, or to separated and distinct phenomena that we perceive as manifest together, and that which we perceive in connectedness due only to our mind and conscious awareness? Should we use different terms to distinguish and separate what may be inferred to as distinct phenomena from our understandings of spatial co-ordinates?

As I understand, String theory infers the existence of at least ten dimensions, with spatial dimensions, length, breadth, height, (up, down, sideways?) and time described as the first four of these – how can this be? Is this really sensible? How can you reconcile geometry with separated dimensions?  - Since all these dimensions are required mutually and do not permit the definition of spatial positioning or the construction of perceived solid objects, (buildings and bridges), without all three together, or with one of these missing? (Notice I did not declare four dimensions here!).

More info regarding String Theory, "The Elegant Universe" here > http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/elegant/


Once again, to reiterate my views regarding time. Time is merely the measurement of rate of change of motion, (of velocity). Without motion and velocity time cannot exist. Yet it is useful for predictions of position and speed whilst change and motion and impermanence are manifest.

It is the "rate of change of motion" which permits the calculation and the prediction of the forthcoming position of say, a planet or a target using mathematical projection of the rate of velocity and the directional change of position, (the mathematical projection of motion). It is NOT the mathematical prediction of this position in a future time! Time is irrelevant to the calculation and the motion and the position, it is the "rate of change" that defines the calculations.

Time cannot exist without change and motion, and "Big bang theory" declares to us that at the singularity time=zero, (time does not yet exist, at the singularity without change in circumstance, without motion).


Regarding your thought experiment. You are correct that each thought must follow a causal sequence from say an emanation to a conclusion, and thus this would occur over a period of time or alternatively as a rate of change, and a neural process, (motion). It would make no difference if you existed as merely thought or mind alone, since even this metaphysical state would still imply motion, and a change of circumstance, (of thoughts and ideas). So until you can completely still the mind and eliminate all motion of thought, time would still exist.

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You are neither earth, water, fire, air or even ether.
For liberation know yourself as consisting of consciousness,
the witness of these.
[The Song of Ashtavakra (Ashtavakra Samhita) Chapter 1.3]
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