What is time?

Discussion in 'General Philosophy' started by Speakpigeon, Apr 1, 2019.

  1. Speakpigeon Valued Senior Member

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    What is time?

    What it is which we measure with a clock.

    As I see it, it all comes down to our impression that natural events occur with an intrinsic regularity, first and foremost the movement of the Sun around the Earth. This leads us to assume the metaphysical construct of time. By metaphysical here, I mean something we think is physical but that we cannot perceive as such, like we do pain, colours and shape for example. We can't measure time if by time we mean this sort of metaphysical construct.

    That being said, man is the measure of all things. How could we have any notion of the temporal regularity of events if we didn't have in fact some kind of perception of time, or at least of something like time, something which is usually called "subjective time". Obviously, subjective time isn't too reliable since the notion itself suggests it is affected by psychological factors. Yet, there is little doubt that subjective time is our reference for assessing that natural events occur regularly.

    Does any of this proves time exists as such? Not really. We can conceive of natural processes as having their own local rate of occurrence. Natural process occur essentially at the microscopic level. So, we can assume the rate of occurrence at the microscopic level to be foundational to time. "SI defines the second as 9,192,631,770 cycles of the radiation that corresponds to the transition between two electron spin energy levels of the ground state of the 133Cs atom (Wiki)". This seems to give ontological consistence to time.

    Yet, if we accept that the human mind is essentially a natural process, then it is very likely that our sense of time is based on the same sort of microscopic events as used in measuring time. It seems reasonable then to assume a common factor, which may well be time itself, but that could just as well be something else, something unlike what we usually think of as time, for example a sort of microstructure of reality affecting similarly our brain processes and electronic transitions in caesium atoms. You may want to call such a microstructure, of whatever would play the same role, as time itself. Maybe scientists uncovering this microstructure will say they have discovered time or the nature of time. Yet, it would certainly be something very different from what most people seem to have in mind when they think of time.

    A crucial aspect to this idea is that such a microstructure makes our idea of time completely redundant. Reality would be utterly void of time. Instead, the microstructure itself would somehow trigger all events at the microscopic scale, providing a sort of universal regularity to natural processes. We can think of this as a variation on the notion of block universe. Here, instead of a growing block of events, we would have an unchanging block of events. It's a bit of a disturbing perspective but it is a logical possibility.

    In this perspective, a clock follows the microstructure just as our brain does. Measuring time with a clock would be essentially providing a more convenient sequencing of our perception of the microstructure. A kind of measure, not of the microstructure itself, since we don't really care about it given that we don't even know it exists, but a measure more like a way to cadence and synchronise the various activities of all human beings. A mere convenience, somewhat like the bells of the local church to tell people when to do things. In this perspective, time, objective time, the thing supposedly measured by clocks, is a social construct, from which is derived time as a scientific concept.

    Clocks don't measure time. They tell time.
    EB
     
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  3. Speakpigeon Valued Senior Member

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    If time was the occurrence of an event, or the succession of events, there would be no reason for similar processes to take the same amount of time. Instead, if you think events occur in time, in some sort of preexisting time, then events take a certain time to unfold according to their nature.
    Unless there is a unique sort of fundamental event in nature.
    If so, then the time for any macroscopic event, or process, to unfold would be a function of the fundamental events it is made of.
    In fact, I can't see any other explanation.
    This would explain clocks without having to resort to the metaphysical concept of time, a concept no one will ever prove.
    Thus, time is an illusion. It is the appearance to us of the succession of fundamental events, all identical.
    Thus, all processes are clocks. Two broadly identical contraptions will tick at the same pace because they are two different but comparable sequences of the same fundamental event. They are nearly identical clocks. Our own brain can tell time because it is itself a sequence of fundamental events, because it is itself a clock.
    We can do things in no time. Literally.
    Your welcome.
    EB
     
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  5. arfa brane call me arf Valued Senior Member

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    My take on the nature of time is that it emerges because particles interact.

    We know that when any pair of particles 'interacts', something more than physical locality exists (that is, a place where the interaction occurs).
    We call this "something else" entanglement, and we also know that to see any measurement of entangled states, we need a low energy background, otherwise random exchanges of entangled particles with their environment (thermalization), essentially swamps any signal from entangled particles--the wavefunction is said to collapse because the environment 'measures' the states.

    But otherwise a pair of particles remain entangled until this measurement occurs; my take on where time emerges is in this ability to store or delay entanglement information that the universe appears to have--time is effectively the information we don't or can't measure in spacetime. That is, time appears because there is a lot more missing information than that we can ever store (i.e. remember), in any way.

    As to clocks; computer clocks today operate in the nanosecond range. But a lot more is happening at the thermal scale every nanosecond--for every clock tick (one bit of information) there are probably petabytes of thermal information being exchanged with the computer's environment. In other words, my theory goes, to register one clock bit, you have to not register N thermal bits, where N is very large.
     
    Last edited: Apr 2, 2019
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  7. river

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    Space

    Entanglement was shown to exist at very low distances of 2-3km. Not yet the Universe.
     
  8. arfa brane call me arf Valued Senior Member

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    Sorry, I don't get this.

    Entanglement "happens"; just because we can determine this in a lab doesn't mean it only happens in labs, or in controlled experiments over 2-3km (I think that's a bit larger nowadays).

    So that, it isn't a reasonable conclusion, or argument, that entanglement needs to be determined across the entire universe before we can say it happens everywhere in the universe. That would be along the lines of saying unless we take the temperature of the universe everywhere we can't say what it is, or what temperature really is, or something . . .
     
  9. river

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    Agreed

    But to extrapolate entanglement into the Universe is an enormous step , without any proof .

    Lets go 100km between particles , and see what happens ? Does the entanglement , between both particles , still exist ? If so , why ? If not , why ?
     
  10. arfa brane call me arf Valued Senior Member

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    You agree, but you also disagree?

    Well, I suppose that makes some kind of sense. But why is extrapolating entanglement beyond a lab an "enormous step"? Why assume that it's only something we can manufacture in a lab setting, and doesn't occur otherwise? What would the assumption be based on? The non-locality of the rest of the universe perhaps?
     
  11. origin In a democracy you deserve the leaders you elect. Valued Senior Member

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    Time is 3:15 pm.
     
  12. Speakpigeon Valued Senior Member

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    Wrong again. It's 9:21pm.
    Er- no, it's 9:22pm.
    See?
    EB
     
  13. Sarkus Hippomonstrosesquippedalo phobe Valued Senior Member

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  14. TheFrogger Valued Senior Member

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    To, "have time", simply means you haven't died yet. You are still alive. Each moment has the potential to exist for ETERNITY.
     
  15. Speakpigeon Valued Senior Member

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    Yeah, potentially. Not, like, actually.
    Sort of.
    But it's a derail. I'm not talking about "have time". I'm talking about time.
    EB
     
  16. TheFrogger Valued Senior Member

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    Time is a logical progression where something that existed, "before" is placed earlier along the timeline, and that which exists AFTER the present, is placed to the future of the timeline.
     
  17. river

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    Why does this make sense ?
     
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  18. fess Registered Senior Member

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    Time is change. Without change, the concept of time is meaningless. Actually, There is no time. There are only instances of the universe, each one a slight change from every other
     
  19. TheFrogger Valued Senior Member

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    Would you like to add something River? What are you struggling with in my statement?? Did a part of my post get sliced off???

    Please Register or Log in to view the hidden image!



    Which part do you not understand? I'll see if I can help you...
     
    Last edited: Apr 9, 2019
  20. TheFrogger Valued Senior Member

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    Time is WITHIN each and every living being. Should we reverse time for one being (x), we may watch others pass through, and, "change time" at each moment, while the ob-served moment (y) will be as it always has been.

    --->>>x<<<---
    --------y---------

    ...and so God's non-intervention stance remains: God takes no part in society, as he may undo his action after the being has passed through the observed moment.

    Why is non-intervention so relevant? With the eternality of the human-race, we may never know when someone has returned with an important message. And so THE FIRST must do nothing, and allow society to flourish.

    Please Register or Log in to view the hidden image!

     
  21. Speakpigeon Valued Senior Member

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    Without something like what we think of as time, while you may well have different instances of the universe, there would be no reason that these different instances be connected to each other so that each one instance would have to somehow "follow" from another instance so that we could have a sense of the succession of different moments. Reality would like a set of unrelated universes, hardly the basis for our subjective impression of time.
    EB
     
  22. C C Consular Corps - "the backbone of diplomacy" Valued Senior Member

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    Well, those numerous substrate events in the brain build-up in terms of their relationships and procedural chunk-sequences to be what we experience as a specious "this moment" or immediate state of affairs.

    Due to that dependence upon accumulated neural processes, the subjective human "now" is of irregular microseconds duration instead of those vastly "shorter" measurements of subatomic changes.

    Accordingly an objective, universal "now" (if there could be such a thing) would be slotted anywhere from attoseconds to yoctoseconds (depending upon what subatomic events one deemed necessary for a supposed global "present" to accommodate). With Planck-time being the conceptual limit of meaningfulness in terms of temporal units.

    Obviously the specious human "now", consisting beneath its phenomenal appearance as a chunk-sequence of electrochemical and micro-temporal changes, wouldn't "fit" into whatever standard chosen for an objective present. (That would be far more than the figurative contrast of an elephant to a mite in terms of duration.) Our "now" is covering or riding over those countless micro alterations.

    Suggesting that presentism ("only now exists" -- a past objective moment is destroyed and the next future one lacks being) is just another ersatz belief of everyday experience. (Which is to say, the feeling that everything is extrospectively and introspectively blinking in and out of existence -- objectively changing -- is just another emergent psychological quale.) At least in the context of scientific realism, which removed the conventional secondary properties from its objective world all the way back to the days of Galileo (Primary/secondary quality distinction). What we call perceived changes replacing each other might instead be adjacent differences along an extra-dimensionally extended field. (Or something less mathematically juvenile than the simplified hypersolid depiction of a block-universe.)

    However, if a person's metaphysical orientation involves less scientism and is more along the line that only the world of appearances is real (arguably a form of idealism) -- with physics' documentation of the cosmos just being an internal story or logic that experience intersubjectively adheres to -- then presentism could be the case. With the human "now" duration perhaps even being its universal standard for an interval/moment of the extrospective cosmos before being annihilated by its ensuing replacement.

    OTOH, David Hume's retrospectively labeled "pan-phenomenalism" would keep rudiments of a block-universe conception alive, what with its cognitive transition from one bundle of qualitative impressions to the next set involving the latter already existing. Leibniz's monads arguably contained a similar either phenomenal or intellectual continuum with consciousness/understanding being what "moved" along it, yielding the sense of the continuum having a flow to it (should a particular monad be the rare one possessing such cognitive abilities). The monads were windowless in terms of interaction, but mentally synchronized with each other terms of their internal "movie" of conscious/perceived events. (Again, if they were higher-level monads which featured the roving intentionality of an understanding/intellect.)
     
    Last edited: May 5, 2019
  23. TheFrogger Valued Senior Member

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    Hi there. "Now" exists in the present, but also has the potential to continue into the future. Any, "will" decided now, will become in the future.
     

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