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Time Reborn

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Posted

Just came across mention of this book, and it sounds fascinating. It's only been in print for a month or so, but I figured if anyone had read it yet, they probably hang out around these parts.

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0547511728

Any thoughts? Reviews?

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Posted

Have not read it, though it looks interesting. Since Time, or rather, passing time, dropped out of physics more than a century ago, and philosophically was discredited by McTaggert, it will be interesting to read this book and see why we should take time (passing time?) seriously again.

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Posted

I believe Henri Bergson restored duration (or what you call "passing time") a philosophical credibility in his works Time & Free Will and The Creative Mind.

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Posted

Asked if he would continue the fight against Bergson, Einstein responded: “No, I do not intend to do that, unless Bergson himself provokes a polemic. But that would not help anybody.” Einstein was willing to let bygones be bygones: “Time will pass and then we can judge with more objectivity.”

:heh:

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Posted

It seems to me that the dispute between Einstein and Bergson prefigures issues in science and philosophy that are more predominant than ever.

First, as to the book in question, I'm not sure that very many people have denied that time exists at all, except for James McTaggert and, more recently, Julian Barbour. What is argued that a certain conception of time (i.e., passing) is valid. Norman Swartz discusses this issue, of denying certain conceptions of space and time, without denying that either exist, at some length in the chapter on time and space in one of his books, and in that chapter also offers a neat disproof of McTaggert's arguments.

Broadly, what Einstein and Bergson seem to disagree about is what today, Max Tegmark calls the "bird's eye" view of reality, and the "frog's view" of it. The bird's view is mathematical, and the frog's view is experiential.

Tegmark posits that if we accept the bird's view, then the frog's view is merely illusory. Our experiences, perceptions, intuitions and so forth are simply irrelevant. They are not guides to what is true. Examples are that we perceive the world as flat, but it is not; we see the sun going around the earth, but it does not.

It seems Einstein has the bird's view, and Bergson the frog's view. By the question is, why should we give precedence to the bird's view? Isn't doing so itself a kind of frog's view idea?

The problem is that we have no idea whether science converges on truth. It certainly can and does give us models of the world that make successful predictions. But from this we cannot infer that the models describe truth. After all, the Ptolemaic model works perfectly well, too, but few would argue that it describes anything that is true.

Also, the QM that Einstein helped invent yet resisted, is in conflict with his relativity in part because it seems to demand a real-observer independent time. This issue is unresolved. Since QM and relativity are incompatible for a variety of reasons, it seems we should regard both of them, as Bradley Monton has said, as false theories. Therefore the way is open again for philosophy, as Bergson wanted, a way that probably will never be foreclosed.

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Posted

I may pick this book up at a later date; my reading list is quite extensive as it is. I find it amusing though that many of the negative reviews on Amazon are negative for the specific reason(s) that I wanted to read the book in the first place: that it is a more philosophical than empirical treatment of the subject.

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