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Some people say that time only began when the universe began. I think that is

Some people say that time only began when the universe began. I think that is because they equate time with movement. I disagree. I think that time is measured by movement but it isn't movement per se. I think that time is that ever present hypothetical or actual possibility of change. I hope that makes sense. What says you philosophers?

At least movement is relatively clear, and in principle perceivable. But what is a "hypothetical or actual possibility of change"? (Are you distinguishing two different kinds of possibility here, one hypothetical, the other actual, or does this phrase somehow refer to one thing?) ... You'd need a rather thorough account of what "possibilities" are, in particular non-actual possibilities, to make this answer be an improvement on the earlier one .... (You might read Augustine's famous treatment of time, where he explores the relationship between time and motion: in his Confessions, ch. 11 .....)

hope that's a start!

ap

At least movement is relatively clear, and in principle perceivable. But what is a "hypothetical or actual possibility of change"? (Are you distinguishing two different kinds of possibility here, one hypothetical, the other actual, or does this phrase somehow refer to one thing?) ... You'd need a rather thorough account of what "possibilities" are, in particular non-actual possibilities, to make this answer be an improvement on the earlier one .... (You might read Augustine's famous treatment of time, where he explores the relationship between time and motion: in his Confessions, ch. 11 .....) hope that's a start! ap

It is said that even a broken clock is right twice a day.

It is said that even a broken clock is right twice a day. But can we actually say that a broken clock correctly tells the time twice a day? Wouldn't that require the clock, in some way, accomplishing some process that attempts to tell the time, and being successful twice? It seems to me that a broken clock can't be said to be correct at all, since it isn't even trying. For sake of analogy, if I ask someone a trivia yes-no question, and they decide their answer by flipping a coin, are they correct if the coin happens to give them the right answer?

good question!

perhaps distingish between our being justified in using the device for its purpose from its actually succeeding in fulfilling its purpose. in your coin case you would not be justified in believing the answer the coin gives -- but the answer might (luckily) actually be correct. similarly for the clock case -- its being broken means you are not justified in using it to learn the time, but sometimes unjustifiable processes do yield the correct result (even though you're not justified in believing it) -- so on this view the clock IS right twice a day ....

hope that helps

ap

good question! perhaps distingish between our being justified in using the device for its purpose from its actually succeeding in fulfilling its purpose. in your coin case you would not be justified in believing the answer the coin gives -- but the answer might (luckily) actually be correct. similarly for the clock case -- its being broken means you are not justified in using it to learn the time, but sometimes unjustifiable processes do yield the correct result (even though you're not justified in believing it) -- so on this view the clock IS right twice a day .... hope that helps ap

When people claim that in "non-Western cultures, time is cyclical rather than

When people claim that in "non-Western cultures, time is cyclical rather than linear", what do they mean by this? Is this nothing more than another way of stating the truism that history repeats itself? It seems that even within cycles, there must be linearity of some kind - consider for example the carbon cycle, where the cycle is little more than a repeating linear loop. Throughout my life, I have only ever been growing older, and I will not suddenly be young again - or start getting younger - when I stop aging. So what does it mean to say that time is cyclical and not linear?

I have nothing to add here except to say that this question has often occurred to me -- has anyone truly believed (say) that when spring rolls around each year, it is precisely the very same "time" that it was the year before, rather than being merely a "similar" environment recurring? I suppose if something like Nietzsche's 'eternal recurrence' were the case (taken literally), then there could be some question of a genuinely recurring ie cyclical time -- but even then wouldn't it be far more plausible to hold that time remains linear even if the events occurring in time might go through cycles?

Will be curious if anyone else weighs in with an endorsement of the opposing view -- or even of the claim that any culture has endorsed such a view.

best, ap

I have nothing to add here except to say that this question has often occurred to me -- has anyone truly believed (say) that when spring rolls around each year, it is precisely the very same "time" that it was the year before, rather than being merely a "similar" environment recurring? I suppose if something like Nietzsche's 'eternal recurrence' were the case (taken literally), then there could be some question of a genuinely recurring ie cyclical time -- but even then wouldn't it be far more plausible to hold that time remains linear even if the events occurring in time might go through cycles? Will be curious if anyone else weighs in with an endorsement of the opposing view -- or even of the claim that any culture has endorsed such a view. best, ap

Why are philosophers concerned with the nature of time? Isn't this a scientific

Why are philosophers concerned with the nature of time? Isn't this a scientific subject?

Here are some questions about time that are not scientific but are philosophical. Does time flow? Does it pass? What does it pass? Does it move? If so, how fast? If speed (s) = d/t, what is d/t when s is the speed of time? What temporal distance does time travel in a unit time? Surely the unity distance. But then the speed of time is 1 sec. per sec. How can time be measured, as the past does not exist and the future does not exist and the present is merely a point - nothing to measure there! - dividing the past and future? Does time exist? What (if anything) is it made of? Is time travel possible? In a completely unchanging universe, would time pass anyway? If every true statement corresponds to a fact, how can statements about the future be true now, in the present, as there are no facts about the future now, in the present? If there were, they wouldn't be future. Does it mean anything to say that time has a direction? What does it mean? If omelets came first and then eggs afterwards, time would surely still be going forwards, whatever that means; it's just that omelets would come first and eggs afterwards. And (as Andrew points out) how - in what way - do we experience time? This last question, though, might be thought to have a wholly psychological sense. Perhaps there is no such thing as the experience of time itself, but only of things changing. Would there be any difference in our experience of the world if we did not experience time as such? In fact the conceptual problems of time are interesting partly because so little in the way of answers can be extracted from science. In "Time and Physical Geometry" (1967) Hilary Putnam took the view that science gives the answer to problems about time. Science tells us that the death of Mr. A. is earlier in your reference frame than the death of Mr. A in my reference frame. That leaves a huge philosophical problem about the place of Mr. A's death in reality. One can see how simultaneity is relative to a reference frame, but it is much harder, if not impossible, for philosophical reasons, to see how the reality of something like Mr. A's death could be taken relative to a reference frame. But this is implied by its position in the temporal order.

Good question. But why can't it be both scientific and philosophical? Much of the philosophy of time -- dating back long before serious scientific investigation on time (which I'll arbitrarily date to 17th century or so) -- involves reflection on our conscious experience of temporality -- and most of that reflection still is valuable and insightful even as science has progressed to very different understandings of the nature of time ... So there's still plenty of room to philosophize about time, about our experience of time, even INDEPENDENT of whatever's going on in science .... best, ap

People are often amazed that we exist. For example, I have heard on numerous

People are often amazed that we exist. For example, I have heard on numerous occasions people say something like: "How crazy is it that atoms have aligned in a particular way to produce you and I, in the circumstances that we're currently in, as seemingly conscious beings?" Is the answer to that: "It's not crazy, it was bound to happen at some point!" ? Isn't time so long that every possibility of life, every permutation or combination of every event is bound to occur? For example, sometime eons in the future or the past, another me could be sitting here writing this exact question, only to make a miniscule typo, and that be one of the only differences between then and now? Is the fact that I am alive and conscious as I am right now a certainty given how long time is?

You clearly hang out with interesting people. These issues are much discussed amongst proponents/critics of various forms of 'telological' or 'design' arguments. You can find in Aquinas the idea that if time stretches back to infinity then eventually every logically possible outcome occurs, which he uses to argue that not every existing being exists contingently, at least one exists necessarily. You see the response (eg in Hume against Paley's biological design argument) that for all we know the alleged design in nature occurred via a very long series of random permutations, some of which are bound to be ordered, and obviously any one which includes us would be an ordered one so there's certainty that if we are doing the investigation we shall discover the order -- Nietzsche famously argued for the 'eternal recurrence' suggesting that an infinite time not only does everything happen but that it happens over and over again an infinite amount of time ... but you're raising the question in terms of probabilities and certainties -- which is strong langauge -- if Aquinas/Nietzsche are right, this very conversation is itself an eventual certainty to occur -- but does that make it any less amazing, meaningful, reason to base beilef in (say) a designing God on? Hm.

You clearly hang out with interesting people. These issues are much discussed amongst proponents/critics of various forms of 'telological' or 'design' arguments. You can find in Aquinas the idea that if time stretches back to infinity then eventually every logically possible outcome occurs, which he uses to argue that not every existing being exists contingently, at least one exists necessarily. You see the response (eg in Hume against Paley's biological design argument) that for all we know the alleged design in nature occurred via a very long series of random permutations, some of which are bound to be ordered, and obviously any one which includes us would be an ordered one so there's certainty that if we are doing the investigation we shall discover the order -- Nietzsche famously argued for the 'eternal recurrence' suggesting that an infinite time not only does everything happen but that it happens over and over again an infinite amount of time ... but you're raising the question in terms of...