• Number2018
    I agree with you, there are so many ways of thinking, not just one!
    It is a matter of choice - what you find more relevant. I will read your paper.
  • John Gill
    Just joining the discussion. I'm a retired math professor interested in the nature of time.
  • Metaphysician Undercover

    OK, welcome to the club. Have you read the thread?
  • John Gill
    Not yet. It will take awhile! Thanks.
  • Metaphysician Undercover

    I offered a brief starting point. Time as a concept is derived from our apprehension of a separation, division, between past and future.
  • ovdtogt
    Memory and desire gives us our sense of Time.
  • John Gill
    Here is a mathematical note I wrote a while back that demonstrates how a math person might view the passage of time. It's meant to be amusing as well.


  • prothero
    I don't believe in time. Time is an illusion, an abstraction from the events, the change, the becoming of the world.
    I believe in change, in process, in events, in the creative becoming of the world. Can't find time in physics. Can't find time in experience, just the relative ordering of events as seen from a specific point of view. Time is just the relative rate of change, nothing more and that is why philosophers and physicists keep searching and finding not.
  • Possibility
    I barely scraped through calculus in high school, and I’m way out of practise, so I’ll admit that most of that went over my head.

    But I’d be interested to hear your thoughts on Carlo Rovelli’s book ‘The Order of Time’, if you’ve read it...
  • John Gill
    I haven't read that, but thanks for the suggestion. I'm going to start a new thread in the next day or so on theories of history that relate to these existing time topics. Very easy to understand, although I have created mathematical analogies which are of no consequence. :roll:
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    I don't believe in time.prothero

    Do you believe that there is a difference between past and future? If you belief in a real difference between past and future, how can you make that compatible with the non-belief in time?

    Can't find time in experience, just the relative ordering of events as seen from a specific point of view.prothero

    How can you not find time in experience? Isn't this so-called "specific point of view", which underlies experience obvious evidence of time? Would you expect to be able to bring events from your past, and put them into the future, so that you might avoid the bad experiences, or take possible events from the future and put them into the past, so that you might ensure good experiences? The "specific point of view" which you refer to is a brute fact of reality, and clear evidence that time is, as well..
  • 3017amen

    I wish you would have wrote that in Bb minor, then maybe I would have understood it...LOL

    Welcome John! Looking forward to your thread on the abstract's of time... .
  • sandman
    My notes from forum exchanges on Special Relativity, and it's role in 'time'.
    What is time?

    The operational definition of assigning a time to an event as mentioned by A. Einstein in his 1905 paper is essentially what it is, and how it's been done since humans appeared.
    It is a correspondence convention, i.e., assigning events of interest to standard clock events, a measure and ordering of activity, with 'time' always increasing/accumulating.
    It is an accounting scheme developed out of practical necessity, for human activities like agriculture, business, travel, science, etc. The unit of measure for time initially referred to relative positions of astronomical objects, stars, sun, and moon, which implies earth rotations and earth orbits. The year equates to the periodic motion of the earth relative to the sun, the month, the moon relative to the earth, and the day, the earth rotation relative to the stars. All units of time are by definition, involving spatial motion or distance. The clock further divides the day into smaller units of measure. The reference in the 1905 paper of the watch hand to a position on the watch face involves nothing more than counting hand cycles (hand motion of specific distances representing subdivisions of a day). Current scientific research requires clocks that generate smaller and more precise periods than those of the past. The second is defined as n wave lengths of a specific frequency of light. Note "n wave lengths" is a distance, but labeled as "time".

    If we use a light based clock to time the speed of an object along a known distance x, what are we actually doing?
    We are comparing the simultaneous motion of an object to the motion of light for a duration (number of ticks). The result is a ratio x/s = vt/ct = v/c or speed. It should be obvious that the ticks serve to correlate the positions of the object with the positions of the light signal, for simultaneous comparisons. If you use Minkowski space-time diagrams the vertical scale is not 'time', but ct, light path distance, i.e. they plot speed. This allows a simple comparison of equivalent entities, without consideration of the nature of those entities.
    In summation: A clock provides a beat or rhythm via a periodic process, to coordinate and measure events.

    quotes by the author of SR
    From 'The Meaning of Relativity', Albert Einstein, 1956:
    page 1.
    "The experiences of an individual appear to us arranged in a series of events; in this series the single events which we remember appear to be ordered according to the criteria of "earlier" and "later", which cannot be analyzed further. There exists, therefore, for the individual, an I-time, or subjective time."
    page 31.
    "The non-divisibility of the four-dimensional continuum of events does not at all, however, involve the equivalence of the space coordinates with the time coordinate."
    page 32.
    "Finally, with Minkowski, we introduce in place of the real time co-ordinate l=ct, the imaginary time co-ordinate..."

    time and perception
    Subjective time requires memory, which allows a comparison of a current state to a previous state for any changes, which lends itself to an interpretation of time flowing. Patients with brain damage to specific areas involved in maintaining a personal chronology, lose their ability to estimate elapsed time, short or long term. Consider the fact that people waking from a comatose state, have no memory of how much elapsed time, whether hrs, days, or even years.
    Consider one of the greatest misnomers ever used, 'motion pictures' or 'movies', where a person observes a sequence of still photos and the mind melds them to produce moving objects where there is no motion. These cases show time as part of perception. Special Relativity then predicts alteration of measurement and perception via motion.

    It was Minkowski who advocated the mathematical manipulation of the expression for the invariant interval from an equality to a generalized form of four variables, producing space-time. I refer to the Minkowski version of SR as a 'lines on paper' theory. Time is represented as a line, removing any attributes that would distinguish its identity from other variables, a line is a line.

    Math equations that express a behavior as a function of time, are misleading when the time is interpreted as a causative factor. The time of an event must be assigned after the event occurs, i.e. after awareness! If a nova is observed in 2010, and is 100 ly distant, it didn't happen because it was 1910 on earth. It was the physical processes already in place that reacted to an unstable state. A person dies, not because it's his 'time', but because his biological system reaches a state that can't be maintained.

    Which brings us to the real issue (for me) perpetuating the millenia of debating 'time'.
    No one wants to be informed "atomic clock at NIST has a hole in it and time is running out". Time implies longevity. People gain some sense of security if they think there is an invisible entity behind the scenes arranging and scheduling more events.
  • John Gill
    "Math equations that express a behavior as a function of time, are misleading when the time is interpreted as a causative factor. The time of an event must be assigned after the event occurs, i.e. after awareness!"

    Not quite sure of what you are getting at. Newtonian physics gives distance as a function of time, but this is purely descriptive and time is not interpreted as causative. Probably just me, so ignore. I haven't read through all the posts on the subject.
  • John Gill
    I pulled it up and looked at it again, and found a misprint. But don't worry, I don't require readers to find them as well! It's actually pretty trivial stuff compared to most of modern math.
Add a Comment

Welcome to The Philosophy Forum!

Get involved in philosophical discussions about knowledge, truth, language, consciousness, science, politics, religion, logic and mathematics, art, history, and lots more. No ads, no clutter, and very little agreement — just fascinating conversations.