The Philosophy of Time

By Craig Wright | 24 Nov 2022 | Education

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Abstract

Einstein noted that time is relative when considering the perspectives of different observers. Yet, I argue that it is mathematically possible to have a more Newtonian concept of time. While the perception of time differs for each individual, the underlying time related to the universe as a whole can be modelled mathematically as an individual concept. In other words, there can be a notion of universal time, independent from the perceived movement of time. The philosophy of time has been debated from the beginning of philosophical thought. With the introduction of entropy and information theory by Shannon, new aspects of the dynamics of time can be defined that provide a philosophical background to such phenomena without requiring the introduction of alternative worlds or a multi-verse.

In this dissertation, I propose to demonstrate that time is not necessarily infinitely divisible; rather, it must occur in finite slices and simultaneously act as a medium to update information throughout the universe. Though time may be relative, the change in entropy at each point provides perspective and presents not merely a system that leaves time as a dimension that matters. As such, I argue that time is effectively a series of clock cycles running a large number of processes that occur in a linked system and that the series does not depend on infinite processes or external worlds. I demonstrate that several theories based on relativity theory are problematic. Notably, the idea of a black hole is based on a collapse into an infinite singularity, yet the slow-down of time can be demonstrated to accelerate faster than the movement of relative time. This means that, under Hawking radiation, the black hole must always devolve into nothingness before collapsing into an infinite singularity. By reenvisioning time, we can unlock new concepts in both philosophy and the physical sciences. The time problem links to infinities, and incorporates some of the problems with Xeno’s paradox. The notion of a universal time allows us to model time as a fundamental condition complemented by a separate model which describes how different rates of entropy change and information development affects the universe.

Keywords:      Time, relativity, holographic universe, Shannon information, absolute time.

Introduction

The philosophy of time has been debated from before the time of ancient Greek society until now. Remarkably, Einstein noted that time is relative when viewed from an individual’s perspective, and the entropy and information theory from Shannon means that time dynamics can be studied without requiring the introduction of alternative worlds or a multi-verse. While the combination of quantum effects and relativity theory allows people to posit the existence and creation of alternative universes, it is both outside of parsimony and unnecessary.

            Einstein redefined the concept of individualistic time and space by creating the two postulates associated with special relativity. The prior anthropomorphic conceptualisation of time and space viewed humanity as the centre of the galaxy; through Einstein’s theory, anyone or anything could be the centre of the universe. In such a manner, time can be measured in a four-dimensional space-time construct with reference to the constant speed of light and the body experiencing time. Such relativistic referencing removes the absolute notion of time. Yet, a more Galilean approach to time is also possible: taking the universe as an external entity, we no longer need to centre ourselves to produce a referential time construct. While arguments can follow that lead to the uncertainty principle being true by definition, they apply only in the sense that “instantaneous velocity” isn’t a well-defined concept. As Aristotle demonstrated, and as Newton extended, the measurement of velocity (or momentum) requires two measurements of position and time.

            As will be explored in this paper, the slowing of entropy can be modelled universally as an absolute. Such an approach is possible by taking the perspective of any suitably distant observer and creating a means to calculate changes in space-time that lead to the same causal events. Despite the arguments presented in Einstein’s relativity work, the notion of relativistic time and the development of singularities create both a paradox and a contradiction in the relativistic approach. By returning to a unified absolute clock tick that measures the rate of entropy separately at each universal point throughout space, it becomes possible to revitalise an absolute definition of time that aligns with the information in the entropy theories of Shannon.

The Literature of Time

Time is a highly contested and misunderstood part of reality that few of us think about, and very few of us understand when we do. Nevertheless, humanity has adapted to fit within the temporal conditions of our existence.[1] Such adaptations include psychological processes that allow us to divide temporal experiences into component categories and to separate causality.[2] Such psychological processes vary by culture, personality type, and even psychopathologies, yet they all contribute toward a subjective understanding of time that belies time’s objective nature in the physical world.

            Some authors have noted that while time underlies human behaviour and the operations of many human functions, the analysis of time can be explicitly separated into spatial representations or implicitly based on its effects on processing and monitoring activities.[3] Despite this, people question the properties of time and indeed ask whether it is real. Some authors have argued that time is not a physical reality.[4] Others have noted the paradoxical nature of an unreal form of time, even though many Eastern philosophies traditionally discount the reality of time.[5]

            In the 17th century, Galileo changed the referential system from being human-centred to an external whole. The concept of calibrated time was extended through this, and a referential measurement of simultaneously occurring events could be made.[6] In addition, using metronomes to create musical beats that captured half-second intervals[7] led to developing devices that could measure time. Simultaneously, Newton and Leibniz developed mathematical concepts which applied to both infinitesimally small and infinitesimally large periods. The trend continued into the counterintuitive concept of time dilation, a consequence of Einstein’s special relativity theory.

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[1] Paul Fraisse, The Psychology of Time (Oxford, England: Harper & Row, 1963).

[2] William Friedman, About Time: Inventing the Fourth Dimension (Cambridge, MA, US: The MIT Press, 1990).

[3] Jeffrey L. Elman, ‘Finding Structure in Time’, Cognitive Science 14, no. 2 (1990): 179–211, https://doi.org/10.1207/s15516709cog1402_1.

[4] George E. Moore, ‘The Conception of Reality’, Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 18 (1917): 101–20.

[5] John M. E. McTaggart, ‘The Unreality of Time’, Mind 17, no. 68 (1908): 457–74.

[6] Jean D. Moss, and William A. Wallace, Rhetoric & Dialectic in the Time of Galileo. CUA Press, 2003. p. 276.

[7] Gerald J. Whitrow, ‘The Measurement of Time: Its Role in Scientific Thought since Galileo’, Interdisciplinary Science Reviews 16, no. 4 (1 December 1991): 367–73, https://doi.org/10.1179/isr.1991.16.4.367.



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