• Metaphysician Undercover
    6k
    Surely it is self-evident that there is a difference between future and past. However, we cannot really claim to experience the future, and though we say we've experienced the past, it is not as the past that we've experienced it. So the question is what type of knowledge allows us to say that there is a difference between future and past, or is there really no difference between them and what appears as extremely self-evident is just a deep delusion?
  • Galuchat
    657
    Surely it is self-evident that there is a difference between future and past. However, we cannot really claim to experience the future, and though we say we've experienced the past, it is not as the past that we've experienced it.Metaphysician Undercover

    I agree.

    So the question is what type of knowledge allows us to say that there is a difference between future and past...Metaphysician Undercover

    Empirical (experiential) knowledge (factual semantic information).

    ...or is there really no difference between them and what appears as extremely self-evident is just a deep delusion?Metaphysician Undercover

    The concept of time (including: past, present, future, beginning, end, instant/moment, simultaneity, serial, parallel, etc.) is embedded in language as mental modelling system, hence; human thought. It is part of the Human Umwelt.

    Finite time (unidirectional duration) is measurable and divisible. It is a self-evident fact (perceived particular).
  • Terrapin Station
    12.4k
    If there are changes/motion that happened, versus changes/motion that are happening, versus changes/motions that have yet to happen as an illusion, it seems as if there are changes/motion that happened, versus changes/motion that are happening, versus changes/motions that have yet to happen, doesn't it?

    In other words, we can't say that there's not the phenomenon of of an oasis in the desert if that occurs as an illusion. The phenomenon would at least obtain as an illusion. We could say that the phenomenon doesn't correlate to something else, but in this case, we can't deny that there are changes/motion that happened versus . . . wholesale, because that would at least be the case insofar as the illusion goes.
  • Galuchat
    657
    In other words, we can't say that there's not the phenomenon of of an oasis in the desert if that occurs as an illusion.Terrapin Station

    If it "occurs as an illusion" (a conscious perception resulting in the misinterpretation of reality), the oasis is not a fact, it is a mirage. And in that case, it would be delusional to believe the mirage is an oasis.

    Illusions, imagery, hallucinations, psuedohallucinations, and dreams are types of misperception, hence; not objective (fact-based).
  • sime
    401
    It is certainly true, that from a pure meaning-as-use perspective the distinction between the past and the future is much harder to distinguish than it is from an axiomatic meaning-as-reference perspective (which effectively insists upon an a-priori and axiomatic past-future distinction).

    We also anticipate both the future (e.g is this oasis I see a mirage?), as well as the past (e.g. will my current archaeological dig verify the massacre that allegedly took place here in 1942?). Of course in hindsight, yesteryear's predictions that supposedly refer to today are now seen retrospectively as mere instances of retro-futurism that in actuality only ever referred to what occurred when yesteryears so-called "prediction" was made ( how can yesterday's predictions even be wrong?)

    We cannot definition-ally distinguish past-contingent propositions from future-contingent propositions on the basis of experiential content, unless we are prepared to bite the bullet and call a certain appearance "the past", such as the contents of a memory or photograph. But once we reject this as a mistake, as did Ayer, we realize we are then unable to provide an experiential distinction between past and future, even while we continue to insist on it.

    There is of course, a big difference between an eaten Hamburger and a Hamburger sitting in front of us; if an object is called 'destroyed', then there does not exist a direct and local reference to the object that we can point at. There is instead a potentially infinite and interlinked fabric of facts called "the evidence of the destroyed object" together with our investigatory sense of anticipation. Hence an empiricist might be able to equate the past with our current sense of inferential expectation together with today's appearances taken holistically as an inseparably entangled whole. But this of course is too vague to constitute an empirical "theory" of any description.

    Nevertheless, at least we can still speak of our expectations as being fulfilled, as for instance when walking up a hill to inspect the view, or when digging in the earth for relics. We can also partially order our historical knowledge in such a way as to minimize the statistical dependence of the occurrence of so-called "earlier" events on the occurrence of so-called "later" events. Perhaps it is possible to go neo-Kantian and argue that today's perceptual judgments necessitate an axiomatic past-future distinction in order to speak of "types" of objects and events. I don't know about this though.
  • Terrapin Station
    12.4k
    f it "occurs as an illusion" (a conscious perception resulting in the misinterpretation of reality), the oasis is not a fact, it is a mirage. And in that case, it would be delusional to believe the mirage is an oasis.Galuchat

    What I wrote is "we can't say there's not the phenomenon of an oasis."

    Are you saying there's not the phenomenon of an oasis?
  • PoeticUniverse
    592
    what type of knowledge allows us to say that there is a difference between future and pastMetaphysician Undercover
    .
    There is currently no way to tell presentism apart from eternalism.
  • Janus
    8.1k
    The past, as the determinate, is embedded in memory, whereas the future, as the indeterminate, is merely imagined.
  • Mww
    994
    So the question is what type of knowledge allows us to say that there is a difference between future and pastMetaphysician Undercover

    It isn’t a type of knowledge; it is an understanding. From a past to a future, the regressive series of conditions (from any now to any before now**) are given, therefore necessary, but the progressive series of conditions (from any now to any after now**) are merely presupposed as possible, therefore contingent.

    If one were to insist on a type of knowledge regarding experience with respect to time, it can only be a priori, because no direct a posteriori knowledge is at all possible for either past or future.

    ** and because it’s you, because of your name, the former is antecedentia, the latter is consequentia.
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    6k
    Empirical (experiential) knowledge (semantic information).Galuchat

    I don't think empirical knowledge can justify the claim of a difference between past and future, for the reasons outlined in the op. We experience neither past nor future. Could you explain what you mean by "semantic information"?

    The past, as the determinate, is embedded in memory, whereas the future, as the indeterminate, is merely imagined.Janus

    This might be a place to start. What makes the memory of an event different from the anticipation of an event. Don' refer to one event having already occurred, and the other not, because that would be circular, as we are referring to memory and anticipation to justify the claim that there is a difference between one event already having occurred and the other not yet
  • Janus
    8.1k
    I'm not sure you are coming at this from the same angle as I am. I am not claiming that memory is infallible or anything like that. I am just saying that we experience remembering past events, which we obviously don't in the case of future events. So, past events are determinate or determinable for us, whereas future events are not. The point is that we are oriented experientially in a different way to past events than we are to future events, and it is on the basis of that difference in orientation that we make the distinction between past and future.
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    6k

    If I understand you then, you think that we have a particular orientation, and this orientation justifies the claim that there is a difference between past and future. To be oriented means to be pointed in a specific direction. What direction do you think we're pointed toward, the past or the future? If it's neither, then how can you call this an orientation?
  • PoeticUniverse
    592
    What direction do you think we're pointed toward, the past or the future? If it's neither, then how can you call this an orientation?Metaphysician Undercover

    What we feel may not be how it really is. In the block universe of eternalism, the future already exists and we are somehow traversing the 4D block. Or, there is presentism, with the future not yet made, although the 'now will make the next 'now' and the previous 'now' will be gone forever.

    Either way, we feel as if it is always 'now' and that the series 'nows' also represents the past going to the future, since the World progresses; however, our conscious 'now' is not really as the physical 'now' but of the very recent past, since it took time to derive and paint the qualia scene, plus another slight delay from the speed of light. Of course, practically, it's all fast enough to be of use, but, technically, we live in the past.
  • Janus
    8.1k
    I didn't say we are oriented towards the past or the future; in the sense of being oriented to one and not the other. We are oriented towards both but in different ways. The recognition, whether reflectively or merely "instinctively", of that difference and the logic inherent in it just is the basis upon which we make the distinction between them.
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    6k
    I didn't say we are oriented towards the past or the future; in the sense of being oriented to one and not the other. We are oriented towards both but in different ways.Janus

    I would say that's contradictory. One cannot be oriented towards two opposing things, that's like saying you're oriented toward the east and toward the west, at the same time. And, you cannot validate this by saying that it's in different ways, because the orientation is in relation to only one thing, the passing of time. This claim of "different ways" would require showing that there is a difference between past and future, to support the "different ways", but that there is a difference between past and future is what we are trying to justify in the first place. So we have something like, you're coming from the east, and walking toward the west, and you're saying that you're oriented toward both. But that's not really the case, because you're really only oriented toward the west, as that is the way that you're headed.

    In the case of future and past, empirical knowledge is based in past experience, while moral knowledge is based in what ought to be done in the future. If we are headed into the future, then we orient ourselves through moral knowledge and not empirical knowledge. Saying that we use both, empirical knowledge and moral knowledge in our orientation doesn't make any sense unless one can establish a meaningful relationship between the past and the future, through which one type of knowledge can be converted into the other. Otherwise it would be like trying to establish where you are going by looking at where you have come from. It doesn't make sense to look back at the east to determine where you are going in the west, unless you have some principles to transpose the past points of being in the east, into future points of being in the west..
  • charles ferraro
    85
    Can it be argued that the past and future modes of time can only be experienced by the person's imagination in the perpetually vanishing present mode of time; thereby seeming to indicate some sort of ontological priority of the present mode over the others?
  • Terrapin Station
    12.4k
    What makes the memory of an event different from the anticipation of an event.Metaphysician Undercover

    Are you honestly asking this? Your mind works so that you can't make out any distinction between memories of things that happened and imagining what might or will happen?
  • unenlightened
    3.9k
    what type of knowledge allows us to say that there is a difference between future and pastMetaphysician Undercover

    There seems to be past - present - future, as memory, sensation, and imagination. I suppose you privilege the present as all-encompassing, in that memory and imagined futures are also 'sensed' as 'present'

    But one does not count prediction as knowledge; all factual knowledge is of the past; all prediction, even, is an extrapolation from the past. It is the blankness of the post below this one that marks it out as 'future'. Whose post it will be, and what it will say, is unknown until it becomes known at which point the post has been made and it is the past.

    What makes the memory of an event different from the anticipation of an event.Metaphysician Undercover
    I am never afraid of the past.
  • Galuchat
    657
    We cannot definition-ally distinguish past-contingent propositions from future-contingent propositions on the basis of experiential content, unless we are prepared to bite the bullet and call a certain appearance "the past", such as the contents of a memory or photograph. But once we reject this as a mistake, as did Ayer, we realize we are then unable to provide an experiential distinction between past and future, even while we continue to insist on it.sime

    I would be interested in knowing more about Ayer's rejection of memory as a means of distinguishing between past and future. Could you elaborate, or cite a reference?

    It seems to me that experience (which happens in the present) is more than capable of distinguishing between before and after (e.g., cause and effect), and designating the measurable change: time (per Aristotle).
  • Janus
    8.1k
    I would say that's contradictory. One cannot be oriented towards two opposing things, that's like saying you're oriented toward the east and toward the west, at the same time.Metaphysician Undercover

    Have I said that you could be oriented to both the past and the future "at the same time"? It's irrelevant to the argument.
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    6k
    Can it be argued that the past and future modes of time can only be experienced by the person's imagination in the perpetually vanishing present mode of time; thereby seeming to indicate some sort of ontological priority of the present mode over the others?charles ferraro

    I think that if we say there is a difference between past and future, this necessarily gives ontological priority to the present. Don't you? Wouldn't such a difference be dependent on the existence of the present?

    Are you honestly asking this? Your mind works so that you can't make out any distinction between memories of things that happened and imagining what might or will happen?Terrapin Station

    I did not ask whether one can or cannot distinguish between memories and anticipations, I asked what makes one different from the other. And, I implied that saying one is of past events and the other of future events would be begging the question, because reference to memory and anticipation was used to support the claim that there is a difference between past and future.

    There seems to be past - present - future, as memory, sensation, and imagination. I suppose you privilege the present as all-encompassing, in that memory and imagined futures are also 'sensed' as 'present'unenlightened

    Yes, I actually do privilege the present. That's because without the present, as the thing which separates or divides the future from the past, there could be no future or past. Also, I tend to think that it is impossible that the present could be a dimensionless dividing point, or else we couldn't exist in the present (as we are dimensional). So I believe that the present actually contains within it, some of the past, and some of the future, and this is why we have both memories and anticipations at the same time.

    I am never afraid of the past.unenlightened

    That's a good answer, but what if your memory started to fail you? If I started having trouble remembering things this would make me afraid. But maybe this would just be a matter of being afraid of my future in demential state.

    Have I said that you could be oriented to both the past and the future "at the same time"? It's irrelevant to the argument.Janus

    If it's at different times, then what would separate one time from another time? What would constitute turning from being oriented to the past to being oriented to the future, and back and forth? It seems to me that such a back and forth would be a disorientation.

    I don't think you can say that something is irrelevant to the argument until there is actually an argument. Did you present an argument?
  • Janus
    8.1k
    If it's at different times, then what would separate one time from another time? What would constitute turning from being oriented to the past to being oriented to the future, and back and forth? It seems to me that such a back and forth would be a disorientation.

    I don't think you can say that something is irrelevant to the argument until there is actually an argument. Did you present an argument?
    Metaphysician Undercover

    I presented a suggestion which you can take as an argument, that the experienced difference between our phenomenological orientations to past and future events, and the ways in which we can imagine logically elaborating that difference, give rise to the very recognition that there is past and future. How else would we arrive at such an idea?

    In other words, we recognize past and future and quite easily understand the difference, in terms of our experience, between them. I'm not sure what more you could be searching for. Are you asking whether there is "really" "absolutely" a past and future? If so, I would echo what someone else said earlier; which is that we have no way of telling whether presentism or eternailsm or indeed time at all is ontologically (in the absolute sense, if indeed that makes sense) the case, or real. But we do know very well that the distinction between past and future obtains phenomenologically
  • charles ferraro
    85
    Do degrees of reality attach to the modes of time?
    From one perspective I can argue that time-past events and time-future events are less real than time-present events because (excuse the pun!) I cannot experience the former in real time.
    But from another perspective I can argue that even though I experience time-present events in real time they are in a state of constant flux and, thus, equally as unreal as the time-past and time-future events. In other words, can one question whether any temporal events are real?
  • Amity
    694
    However, we cannot really claim to experience the future, and though we say we've experienced the past, it is not as the past that we've experienced it. So the question is what type of knowledge allows us to say that there is a difference between future and past, or is there really no difference between them and what appears as extremely self-evident is just a deep delusion?Metaphysician Undercover

    There seems to be past - present - future, as memory, sensation, and imagination. I suppose you privilege the present as all-encompassing, in that memory and imagined futures are also 'sensed' as 'present'
    — unenlightened

    Yes, I actually do privilege the present. That's because without the present, as the thing which separates or divides the future from the past, there could be no future or past. Also, I tend to think that it is impossible that the present could be a dimensionless dividing point, or else we couldn't exist in the present (as we are dimensional). So I believe that the present actually contains within it, some of the past, and some of the future, and this is why we have both memories and anticipations at the same time.
    Metaphysician Undercover

    You asked what type of knowledge allows us to differentiate between future and past.
    Most people would say 'common sense' and experience. The present is seen as an immediate now, today, even though it changes and becomes the past super fast. When did you last take a breath, when is your next one. What did you have for breakfast? A future event which was anticipated - lunch - just as quickly is upon us. We can think about both past and future in the present moment.
    So, yes, it is a sensible belief that the present contains memories and anticipation, expectation and preparation.

    A practical sense of this is found in this article by Rafael Behr about Brexit.

    Just as in 1914, the Brexit buildup is making calamity feel inevitable.

    Even with a century of hindsight it is impossible to discern a point of no return, a junction at which all future paths, by whatever gradient or circuitous route, converged on disaster. If history doesn’t afford that view, how are we to know in real time when such a moment is close, or has been passed?...

    ...We are transfixed by frenzy on the stage before us: manoeuvres in anticipation of a no-confidence vote. We suppose that all possible routes are still open. Pro-Europeans must hope that there is a way back, that it is not a just a choice of gradient on the downward slide. Yet I sense fatalism creeping into formerly strident anti-Brexit voices. I glimpse shudders of dread that events are being driven not by the MPs who will vote in the coming weeks but by a critical mass of cowardice, ignorance and ideological prejudice that was reached months ago, maybe years.

    The past is harrying the present.
    Rafael Behr
  • unenlightened
    3.9k
    If I started having trouble remembering things this would make me afraid. But maybe this would just be a matter of being afraid of my future in demential state.Metaphysician Undercover

    Let me say it boldly; memory is time. There is a rare condition, associated with binge drinking mainly, in which the ability to lay down new long term memories is lost. Time for the patient stops at the onset, and ever after, they think it is the 3rd of October 1974, or whatever the date is. I think your notion of the present having some 'thickness' derives from short term memory, which again can fail to an extent, so that one 'wonders what one came upstairs for'.
    There is a related condition in which patients confabulate. Not only is memory time, it is also identity - the narrative, episodic and incomplete, that gives the orientation that locates the present as an event at the end of the known - tune in for next week's exciting episode of The Philosopher's Journey. Confabulation is the automatic attempt to make sense of sensation by giving it narrative identity. Without memory, time is disconnected from itself into meaningless sensation, and the death of the narrative self is what dementia threatens.
  • Terrapin Station
    12.4k
    I did not ask whether one can or cannot distinguish between memories and anticipations, I asked what makes one different from the other.Metaphysician Undercover

    The only way it makes sense for you to wonder what makes one different from the other is if you can't distinguish them. Otherwise you'd know what makes one different from the other. That would be how you'd distinguish them.
  • Galuchat
    657
    Could you explain what you mean by "semantic information"?Metaphysician Undercover

    Semantic information is the process of decoding a meaningful message by a mind, and the resultant decoded meaningful message (knowledge).

    The process of decoding a semantic message involves:
    Awareness
    Reflection
    Nominalisation
    Categorisation
    Conceptualisation

    Decoding a semantic message has factual (experiential) and/or logical (metacognitive) aspects.
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    6k
    I presented a suggestion which you can take as an argument, that the experienced difference between our phenomenological orientations to past and future events, and the ways in which we can imagine logically elaborating that difference, give rise to the very recognition that there is past and future. How else would we arrive at such an idea?Janus

    You have one sort of attitude toward some events, and a completely different sort of attitude toward other events, and you classify two types of events, future and past, according to this difference of attitude. Is that what you are saying? If so, the question is, how does a difference of attitude toward different events constitute a real difference between the events? I mean it's not like we can see the events, or in any way sense them, to make the judgement that they are different sorts of events, so the judgement that there are these two distinct categories of events is not an empirically based judgement. What type of judgement is this? It is based completely in a person's attitude toward the events. Is it a moral judgement? Moral judgements seem to be based in one's attitude toward the event.

    You asked what type of knowledge allows us to differentiate between future and past.
    Most people would say 'common sense' and experience.
    Amity

    In the op I explained why we cannot refer to empirical knowledge to justify the claim of a difference between past and future. Perhaps it's "common sense", but what's that?

    Let me say it boldly; memory is time.unenlightened

    I can't agree with this, because you don't give proper recognition to the temporal aspect of anticipation. I think that anticipation has a greater effect on my overall psyche than memory does, hence I tend to be an anxious person. I think we have to respect Janus' determination that there are two distinct temporal orientations, toward the past and toward the future. I do not think we can just dismiss the orientation toward the future, and focus on the orientation toward the past, to say that memory is time.

    However, having said that, there is a sense in which time only occurs at the present, as time passes. In this way, only past events are "within time", because they are within the passing of time. Anything in the future has not yet occurred, and is therefore outside of time. In this way, only remembered events are within time, and anticipated events are outside of time. Perhaps this is what you mean by memory is time, such a restricted sense of "time".

    Incidentally, I think that confabulation is something which we all practise to some degree. When I try to remember a complex event which has occurred, I have to go over it again and again in my mind, putting words to the immediate memory, which is in images. As I do this, the event takes on the character of a description rather than an imaginary scene, like the inversion of making a book into a movie. This activity, of putting words to the images is driven by intention, the purpose for memorizing the event, (which is an attitude toward the future), and this intention greatly shapes the description. That shaping of the description is confabulation.

    The only way it makes sense for you to wonder what makes one different from the other is if you can't distinguish them. Otherwise you'd know what makes one different from the other. That would be how you'd distinguish them.Terrapin Station

    That's nonsense. I point to two things, and say that they are different. I ask you what makes them different. You say that if I can see that they are different, then I know what makes them different. You are missing the difference between using your senses and using your mind. Normally, your senses tell you that things are different, and your mind tells you what makes them different. In this case, my mind is telling me that future and past are different, but it is not telling me what makes them different. However, your claim that if I can say that they are different, then I must know what makes them different, is clearly false.

    And furthermore, the issue of the op is that if we cannot say what makes them different, then the claim that they are different is not justified. That they are different might be an illusion. So your response is really nonsensical, because you are saying that if you see them as different then you know what makes them different (which is false). And then you assume that the claim that they are different is justified, without any justification, as the appearance that they are different may be an illusion.



    So how does semantic information tell us that the past is different from the future?
  • Amity
    694
    You asked what type of knowledge allows us to differentiate between future and past.
    Most people would say 'common sense' and experience.
    — Amity

    In the op I explained why we cannot refer to empirical knowledge to justify the claim of a difference between past and future. Perhaps it's "common sense", but what's that?
    Metaphysician Undercover

    Yes. I noted that. And clearly disagree.
    Common sense means never having to look up Wikipedia.
    But here it is anyway, for those who really don't know :roll:

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Common_sense
  • Terrapin Station
    12.4k
    You are missing the difference between using your senses and using your mind.Metaphysician Undercover

    ?? Seeing something via using your senses IS using your mind.

    Maybe you're referring instead to putting the difference into words or "intellectualizing" it?
  • Isaac
    1k
    So the question is what type of knowledge allows us to say that there is a difference between future and past, or is there really no difference between them and what appears as extremely self-evident is just a deep delusion?Metaphysician Undercover

    I'm not sure what kind of an answer you'd want to a question like this. I'm not even sure knowledge comes in 'types' but I'm much more sure that it neither allows nor disallows the saying of things.

    Any question of what 'really' is must have within it your means by which you propose to establish how we'd know such a thing.
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