• Metaphysician Undercover
    9k
    As far as I am abreast of this subject it is still very much open for debate.m-theory

    As I said, until it can be demonstrated that a past event can be prevented, or produced, like a future one can be, then the evidence, and consequent inductive principle is overwhelming. We have to start any logical proceeding from some fundamental assumptions. If we cannot assume something which all evidence indicates is the case, what can we assume?

    Without any evidence that the past and future are not substantially different, as all the evidence indicates that they are, any such debate seems pointless. That the past and future "could be" essentially the same, is an unsupported myth.
  • m-theory
    1.1k
    As I said, until it can be demonstrated that a past event can be prevented, or produced, like a future one can be, then the evidence, and consequent inductive principle is overwhelming. We have to start any logical proceeding from some fundamental assumptions. If we cannot assume something which all evidence indicates is the case, what can we assume?

    Without any evidence that the past and future are not substantially different, as all the evidence indicates that they are, any such debate seems pointless. That the past and future "could be" essentially the same, is an unsupported myth.
    Metaphysician Undercover

    I don't think presentism is a myth, I think it is a conjecture about the nature of time.

    To me it the evidence does not seem to be conclusive one way or the other.

    Sure it is possible that objects exist in the past, in the present, and in the future and all sates of nature are unchanging.
    It is also possible that the only things that exist are present things that move through the dimension of time.and states of nature are changing.

    Intuitively the evidence suggest that eternalism is wrong because humans experience change as something that is quite real.

    But as we learn about the laws of nature it might be that this is just some trick of the mind and in reality all of time is extended.

    It is not as cut and dry as you suggest I am afraid.
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    9k
    It is not as cut and dry as you suggest I am afraid.m-theory

    I am not suggesting that it's a cut and dry issue, actually I am suggesting something quite contrary, that things are more complex than you might think.

    But I think, that in order to produce a clear understanding of temporal existence, we need to start from the most simple, and most evidently true premise that we can devise. This I believe, is the fact that there is a substantial difference between past and future. What has happened, in the past, we cannot alter, but with respect to the future, we can influence what will or will not happen. That is what is most evident to us about the nature of time.

    So in defining "possibility", we have two distinct forms of that word. In relation to the past, we may not know exactly what happened, despite the fact that what has happened is fixed in time, and cannot be different than it is. This produces an epistemic possibility. With respect to the past, it is logically possible that X or Y may be the case, if we don't know which one is the case. If they exclude one another, then if X is the case then Y is not. In relation to the future, there is an ontological possibility, because neither A nor B is the case, if the time referred to has not yet arrived. The human agent may cause A to occur, or B to occur, and these may be equally possible, as with the flip of the coin.

    The point though, is that each of these two types of "possibilities" only exist in relation to the intentional being. In relation to the past, there is possibility with respect to the intentional being's knowledge. In relation to the future, there is possibility with respect to what the intentional being can do. Remove the intentional being, and there is no such possibility of either type, though we could assume that the world would continue to exist

    It may appear easier to understand the world by removing this fundamental principle, that there is a substantial difference between future and past, but such a move would be a mistake, since the principle is evidently true. If this means reassessing some of the principles of physics, then this is what we should do, in order to avoid misunderstanding.

    Intuitively the evidence suggest that eternalism is wrong because humans experience change as something that is quite real.m-theory

    What I am suggesting is not presentism, because what is accepted as the real aspects of time, are the past and future. However, since we must recognize that there is a real difference between past and future, this necessitates that there is a boundary between these two, and the boundary is what is called the present. Since it is evident that change and motion occur at the present, it is impossible that this boundary is a sharp, crisp boundary. If the boundary was sharp, then at one moment things would be as they are in the future, then at the next, as they are in the past, without any motion at the present. But this is not the case, as we obseve. Therefore we need to assume two dimensions of time, the traditional one which marks the relationship between future and past, and another dimension to allow for the activity which occurs at the present.
  • Janus
    10.7k
    Therefore we need to assume two dimensions of time, the traditional one which marks the relationship between future and past, and another dimension to allow for the activity which occurs at the present.Metaphysician Undercover

    Or, we can think that the present moment contains, or better, encompasses, both past and future; that it is 'stretched' so to speak and not a dimensionless point instant. The question is, though; is there any present moment, or any moment at all for that matter, other than the phenomenological?
  • m-theory
    1.1k
    The point though, is that each of these two types of "possibilities" only exist in relation to the intentional being. In relation to the past, there is possibility with respect to the intentional being's knowledge. In relation to the future, there is possibility with respect to what the intentional being can do. Remove the intentional being, and there is no such possibility of either type, though we could assume that the world would continue to existMetaphysician Undercover

    Sorry but this was just inserted with no justification.
    There is no reason to create an intentional being to understand nature when probability does a fine job of describing nature without the existence of an intentional being.
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    9k
    Sorry but this was just inserted with no justification.
    There is no reason to create an intentional being to understand nature when probability does a fine job of describing nature without the existence of an intentional being.
    m-theory

    Then you don't understand the point. Probability, possibility, and chance, only exist in relation to an intentional being. That is why it is necessary to bring in the intentional being.

    Epistemic possibility, logical possibility, exists only as a property of the intentional being's knowledge. Ontological possibility exists only in relation to what the intentional being can and cannot do. That the intentional being can flip a coin to produce a 50/50 probability, roll a die, create a lottery, or create a stochastic system, all of these being artificial creations of randomness, provides no evidence that such a thing as randomness could exist naturally. Therefore any claim that probability is something natural is what is unjustified.

    Or, we can think that the present moment contains, or better, encompasses, both past and future; that it is 'stretched' so to speak and not a dimensionless point instant.John
    You could think that way, but it distracts from the principal point, that the future is substantially different from the past. Then you have to attempt to unite these two incompatible things, future and past. I think it is more productive to think of the present as a sort of division between future and past.
  • Janus
    10.7k
    You could think that way, but it distracts from the principal point, that the future is substantially different from the past. Then you have to attempt to unite these two incompatible things, future and past. I think it is more productive to think of the present as a sort of division between future and past.Metaphysician Undercover

    But the present does contain elements of both the already-established (past) and the to-be-established (future). By thinking of the present as a "division" you are artificially cutting into the flow of time or events; and also trying to think the present as 'pure' which can only suggest a kind of infinitesimal point instant. I don't think that way of thinking about it is either comprehensive enough to capture the quality of the living present or even really intelligible at all, other than in the most abstract 'mathematical' kind of way.
  • m-theory
    1.1k
    Then you don't understand the point. Probability, possibility, and chance, only exist in relation to an intentional being. That is why it is necessary to bring in the intentional being.Metaphysician Undercover
    No this is simply wrong...unless you mean to suggest that sub atomic particles are intentional beings.
    If so I can't make sense of that view.
    Sorry.
    Epistemic possibility, logical possibility, exists only as a property of the intentional being's knowledge. Ontological possibility exists only in relation to what the intentional being can and cannot do. That the intentional being can flip a coin to produce a 50/50 probability, roll a die, create a lottery, or create a stochastic system, all of these being artificial creations of randomness, provides no evidence that such a thing as randomness could exist naturally. Therefore any claim that probability is something natural is what is unjustified.Metaphysician Undercover

    Again sub atomic particles don't have knowledge.
    I can't make sense of the notion that they do.

    Ontological possibility simply means that the same laws of physics can have different outcomes.
    Sometimes you can get heads and sometimes you can get tails.
    The laws of physics are not violated because both outcomes are ontologically possible...just not at the same time.
    This type of ontological possibility is fundamental at the quantum scale.

    Quantum mechanics is probabilistic by definition not interpretation.
    That is to say the best model of nature we have so far was designed under the assumption that ontological possibility is real regardless if an observer has some intention or not.

    That this model works so well is justification enough that the assumption is valid.
  • Janus
    10.7k
    Again sub atomic particles don't have knowledge.m-theory

    They 'know' how to behave apparently, but it is implausible that they could know that they know. But, this is also true, it is commonly thought, of most or even all animals.

    Perhaps to know that you know, or at least think that you know, requires symbolic language; the kind of self-reflection that it provides. The same could be said, I think, about knowing facts, in the discursive sense at least, and also being able to conceive of ostensive facts, and the idea that things may not be as they seem.
  • m-theory
    1.1k
    They 'know' how to behave apparently, but it is implausible that they could know that they know. But, this is also true, it is commonly thought, of most or even all animals.

    Perhaps to know that you know, or at least think that you know, requires symbolic language; the kind of self-reflection that it provides. The same could be said, I think, about knowing facts, in the discursive sense at least, and also being able to conceive of ostensive facts, and the idea that things may not be as they seem.
    John

    I mean to say that I cannot make sense of the notion that nature is an intentional being.

    What does it mean to say reality or nature is intentional?

    Saying this certainly does not improve our understanding of nature or reality.
    That is to say we cannot make better models of reality and nature under that assumption.
  • Janus
    10.7k


    If intensional is thought of as intending; would intending then be thought of as knowing you are intending?
  • m-theory
    1.1k

    I think intention is knowing that there are different outcomes and having a preference among those outcomes.
    So if nature was intentional it would have a preferred outcome for things like sub atomic behavior and coin tosses.

    If we say that nature does have intention this does not help our models because there is no indication why one outcome is preferred oppose to another.
    If we say that nature has intentions then we are forced to admit we cannot fathom from the evidence what those intentions may be.

    Any given speculation as to what those intentions were would be equally as valid as the next unless you were able to predict outcomes more accurately than current models.
    Only then would you be able to claim that your assumption that nature has intentions is validated.
  • Janus
    10.7k


    Yes, I agree, I don't think nature is intentional in the sense that it plans particular outcomes, but perhaps it can be thought to be intentional in that it might 'favour' certain tendencies, like, for example the arising of complexity and consciousness, and self-consciousness, and maybe later something else beyond consciousness in any way we can conceive it. I think it's just a conjecture though, and not something that could ever be conclusively decided to be so, or not be so, on the basis of empirical observations. The only 'guide' we have (however trustworthy we might think it is), in regard to this kind of question is our own self-experience and intuitions.
  • m-theory
    1.1k

    It may be that nature does favor certain tendencies.
    But until we can use this assumption to make better models it is not a necessary assumption.
    If we could predict nature on the assumption that it has favored tendencies that evidence would make it unreasonable to deny the assumption.

    As far as I am abreast there is no model that makes better predictions using that assumption so I am not compelled by that assumption.
  • Nils Loc
    932
    Everything is determined by the past. Life can't happen any other way than it does. There is no free will. Chance is a myth.

    Case closed.

    >:)
  • Janus
    10.7k


    I would say that tendencies are unquestionably observed; I don't really see how the question of whether they are intended or not could have any bearing on the predictive efficacy of our modeling of those observed tendencies.
  • m-theory
    1.1k

    lol

    If this were true consciousness would not have evolved.

    There is no survival advantage in believing in different outcomes that don't exist.

    However if possibility is real there is a tremendous survival advantage in being able to understand that possibilities exist.

    Case not closed even if you are right.

    If the universe was determined consciousness would be unnecessary and in fact should not have come to exist.
    The very interesting question of why it does would leave the case open for discussion.
  • Janus
    10.7k


    For you it apparently is...

    ;)
  • m-theory
    1.1k

    Tenancies are observed as compared to non-tendencies.
    Intention would mean there is a reason why somethings are tendencies while others are not.
    We still have admit we don't know why some things tend to happen while others do not.
  • Nils Loc
    932
    I was being facetious. I guess MU's argument is more subtle than that but I still don't really grasp it.
  • m-theory
    1.1k

    I don't either to be honest.

    I think he may mean something like was mentioned in this thread.

    If so then I cannot comment on it because I have not researched it at all.
  • Janus
    10.7k


    True, but we cannot make predictions on lack of tendency. All I was saying was that it is the tendencies themselves that are used to create predictive models; and that I can't see how whether the tendencies are intentional or not (in some way, whether involved something like the will of God or something like instinct) would affect their predictive power, per se.
  • Janus
    10.7k


    I don't think I entirely get MU's arguments most of the time either.
    :-}
  • m-theory
    1.1k

    True. We do have to face the fact that in reality some things are more likely to happen than other things. And it may be that is by design but knowing why that is the design is no simple matter to prove if that is what you believe.
  • tom
    1.5k
    True. We do have to face the fact that in reality some things are more likely to happen than other things. And it may be that is by design but knowing why that is the design is no simple matter to prove if that is what you believe.m-theory


    You can't derive an ought from an is. You can't derive a "tends-to" from a "does".
  • m-theory
    1.1k

    I was thinking something more like "tends to" as in "does more so than does not."
  • tom
    1.5k
    I was thinking something more like "tends to" as in "does more so than does not."m-theory

    All you need to do is derive a "tends-to" from a "does". Go ahead!
  • m-theory
    1.1k

    It does seem like I would tend to do that in this example..
    .
  • tom
    1.5k
    It does seem like I would tend to do that in this example..
    .
    m-theory

    Why not do it then. Derive a "tends-to" from a "does". You will be famous!
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    9k
    But the present does contain elements of both the already-established (past) and the to-be-established (future). By thinking of the present as a "division" you are artificially cutting into the flow of time or events; and also trying to think the present as 'pure' which can only suggest a kind of infinitesimal point instant. I don't think that way of thinking about it is either comprehensive enough to capture the quality of the living present or even really intelligible at all, other than in the most abstract 'mathematical' kind of way.John

    Why would you say that thinking of the present as a division between future and past involves "cutting into the flow of time"? It is not even established that there is such a thing as a "flow" of time. I suggested the division between past and future, as a fundamental principle, because it is what we can conclude as true, from empirical evidence. Notice that "flow" is not supported by empirical evidence, it is derived from deductive logic. It is not the same time now, as it was a while ago, such a change requires flow, therefore time must be flowing. What I think is that if you want to introduce a "flow" to account for this change, we must do so in a way which remains consistent with the first principle, that the past is distinct from the future.

    We do not need to conceive of the present as a pure point of division, such as a non-dimensional separation. Modern science has given us many different perspectives, from huge galaxies, to sub-atomic particles. The division between past and future need not be the same from each of these perspectives, just like if we're talking in centuries, years, or in nanoseconds, we have a different perspective of that division. Still, I think it is more useful to devise a clear division from each of the different spatial perspectives, rather than to say that there is one extremely vague division, allowing that future and past overlap each other within this vague "present". Future and past being properly opposed, it would defeat logic to allow them to coexist at the present. So we need to do something such as allow that the division is different depending on the perspective, to account for the apparent vagueness of the division. The human being for instance uses five senses, and the division between past and future may be slightly different from each of these different perspectives. From the human being's perspective then, as a whole, the division is vague.

    No this is simply wrong...unless you mean to suggest that sub atomic particles are intentional beings.m-theory
    Do you believe that a sub-atomic particle, in its natural state of existence, without human interference, would be behaving in a random way? If you do believe this, how would you proceed to demonstrate that it is true?

    However if possibility is real there is a tremendous survival advantage in being able to understand that possibilities exist.m-theory

    That there are possibilities does not necessarily entail that there is randomness. Randomness must be created, and this requires intention. That is my argument, not that nature is intentional, but that nature does not consist of randomness. Randomness though is intentional. I believe there are ontological possibilities within nature, but the fact that possibilities can be understood through probability demonstrates that possibility does not logically imply randomness. If natural possibilities were random, they could not be understood through probability, they'd be random. Randomness does exist naturally though, it is created intentionally, through the human being's understanding of probability. Human beings create circumstances with equal probabilities, and this produces a random outcome.
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