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#31530 - 08/10/09 09:52 AM Is time an abstract idea?
coberst Offline
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Registered: 07/04/07
Posts: 369
Is time an abstract idea?

Time, motion, and change are such basic philosophical concepts that we see them being considered by all philosophers throughout Western philosophical thinking. These are fundamental concepts about which philosophers theorize and they are fundamental concepts about which every DickandJane deal with constantly in their ever-day actions and thoughts.

All of these concepts are abstract ideas that are constructed of multiple metaphors resulting from literal ever-day experiences. Our society thinks of metaphors as being the venue of poets; however, metaphors are not arbitrary or culturally and historically specific. “Rather, they tend to be normal, conventional, relatively fixed and stable, non arbitrary, and widespread throughout the cultures, and languages of the world”

Most importantly we must recognize these metaphors as being abstract but also that they are grounded in specific experiences.

Philosophers have theorized as to whether time really is; is it bounded, is it continuous or divided, does it flow like a river, is time the same to everyone, and is it long or short. These are common questions for DickandJane but philosophy seems to discount most of these human quizzes as being irrelevant. Often philosophers point out paradoxes embodied within these questions.

We have a rich and diverse notion of what time is. Time is not a thing-in-itself that we conceptualize as being independent. “All of our understandings of time are relative to other concepts such as motion, space, and events …We define time by metonymy: successive iterations of a type of event stand for intervals of “time”.” Consequentially, the basic literal properties of our concept of time are consequences of properties of events: Time is directional, irreversible, segmentable, continuous, and measurable.

We do have an experience of time but that experience is always in conjunction with our real experiences of events. “It also means that our experience of time is dependent on our embodied conceptualization of time in terms of events…Experience does not always come prior to conceptualization, because conceptualization is itself embodied. Further, it means that our experience of time is grounded in other experiences, the experiences of events.”

It is virtually impossible for us to conceptualize time as a stand alone concept without metaphor. Physics defines motion, i.e. velocity, in terms of distance and time, thereby indicating motion is secondary to time and distance. However, metaphorically we appear to place time as dependent upon the primitive sense of motion. “There is an area of our visual system of our brain that is dedicated to the processing of motion.”

MOVING TIME METAPHOR

“There is a lone, stationary observer facing in a fixed direction. There is an indefinite long sequence of objects moving past the observer from front to back. The moving objects are conceptualized as having fronts in their direction of motion.”

The time has long past for that answer. The time has come. Time flies by. Summer is almost past. I can see the face of trouble. I cannot face the future. The following days will tell the story.

In this metaphor I conceptualize time as an object moving toward me. The times that are in front of me are conceptualized as the future and the times that have passed me are the past. The present time is that time that is now beside me. This is why we speak of the here and now. My position is a reference point, thus tomorrow is before me and yesterday is past me. I can see the future and the past is gone forever.

MOVING OBSERVER or TIME’S LANDSCAPE

The second major metaphor for time represents a moving observer wherein the present is the position on the path in which the observer is positioned.

In this metaphor the observer is moving through time. Time is a path that I move through. Time, i.e. the path can be long or short, time can be bounded.

There is trouble ahead. Let’s spread this project over several days. We reached summer already.

In this metaphor we construct temporal correlates with distance measurements: long, short, pass, through, over, down the road, etc.

Quotes from Philosophy in the Flesh by Lakoff and Johnson

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#31531 - 08/10/09 12:28 PM Re: Is time an abstract idea? [Re: coberst]
Zephir Offline
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Registered: 07/01/08
Posts: 498
There are many definitions of time arrow, so that question of yours depends on time definition used.

AWT uses a definition of time based on inertial space-time gradient of environment. In this definition time is real tangible object, dual to space. We can specify the number of time dimensions for each space-time gradient, for example.

In my understanding, inside our generation of observable Universe a two reciprocal time dimensions are dominant, related by 1:10{+500} duality at 1.27 cm scale.

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#31532 - 08/10/09 12:34 PM Re: Is time an abstract idea? [Re: coberst]
Zephir Offline
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Registered: 07/01/08
Posts: 498
Originally Posted By: coberst
the observer is moving through time
In AWT object is moving in time dimension, when it expands (to past) or collapses (to future) above 1.27 cm scale. For objects smaller then 1.27 cm the direction of both time arrow becomes reversed. For example evaporation or condensation is travel in time, as it requires transfer of energy.

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#31802 - 08/24/09 02:54 PM Re: Is time an abstract idea? [Re: Zephir]
Joe Duggins Offline
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Registered: 08/24/09
Posts: 4
How time functions, at least to us, is a largely subjective thing. You cannot intuitively understand a physical principle that we neither experience nor effect. Any meaningful knowlege of time's flexible directionality could only be expressed as pure math.
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#31803 - 08/24/09 05:24 PM Re: Is time an abstract idea? [Re: Joe Duggins]
coberst Offline
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Registered: 07/04/07
Posts: 369
Time is an abstract concept. It is constructed from the structures of concrete concepts.

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#31806 - 08/24/09 07:41 PM Re: Is time an abstract idea? [Re: coberst]
Zephir Offline
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Registered: 07/01/08
Posts: 498
Originally Posted By: coberst
Time is an abstract concept. It is constructed from the structures of concrete concepts.

That's right - but now we can ask, whether structures made of concrete concepts are unreal, just because they're global, i.e. composed from more than single discrete objects. Most of observable artifacts in Nature are composed of structures of more dense particles. Is church unreal just because it's composed of many bricks?

Density concentration may appear subtle, but when its sufficiently sharp, we can see it due the light dispersion. Is water surface real? It's just density gradient of water molecules, no less no more. Global structure made of concrete atoms. We can measure time interval, we can compute the number of time dimensions of particular space in reproducible way - it means, time is real concept - it describes causal density gradient of concentration of subjects. We should realize, in AWT nothing is completelly real - everything is just a probability structure, composed of many other probabilities.

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#31811 - 08/25/09 12:20 AM Re: Is time an abstract idea? [Re: Zephir]
Ellis Offline
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Registered: 01/08/07
Posts: 1490
Loc: Australia
Time measurement responds to human need. Did you know that China has one official time throughout the entire country? Very inconvenient if you aren't in Beijing!

If you live east of Perth Australia, then I am living in your future and you are living in my past. If you live in Hawaii then I am living a day earlier in the future than you are! Silly nonsense I know, but a necessary practicality, and it goes show that time is an arbitrary measurement. When we travel abroad many of us become time travellers!

I realise that this is all not really on topic and a bit flippant, but I find it fascinating that I live my life ahead of most of the rest of the world, sometimes by a great deal. As an example, I always thought Pres. Kennedy was assassinated on a Saturday, and used to wonder why so many people were at work in Dallas at the weekend!!!

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#31972 - 09/11/09 06:16 PM Re: Is time an abstract idea? [Re: coberst]
exnihilo Offline
Member

Registered: 09/11/09
Posts: 48
Hello Coberst__

You have brought forward a tantalizing subject with your inquiry of time. I wanted to respond because like so many things about fundamental theory time is a mystery brimming with paradox. To have any hope of getting a handle on time its nature "must" start with the underlying origin of the emergence of the process that makes an event possible. That is, the "world" timeline of the energy comprising mass which allows for the detection of something moving through successive positions in space it has to "begin" at the atomic level. According to theory origin of energy begins and ends with particles, so in this instance a world timeline would begin with the emergence of a particle. This is where everything in theory becomes murky and full of paradox. That is why time beomes abstract in the minds of most. But it may not be an abstract idea at all. It may have an existence that arises from the very properties that particles arise from. To even get an idea of what I am talking about one must be open to the idea that particles are not the beginning of energy, and they are not. Both particles and their "motion" must somehow be accounted for, or in other words an absolute frame of reference must be established for both. So far it is not. What it will show is that time and energy are interchangable or the equivalency principle applies to time, and that further shows time and energy are one and the same thing. Preposterous? Not if one has the appropiate perspective on energy and space and motion. Stay tuned, its on the horizon. NICE TALKING TO YOU.

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#31974 - 09/12/09 07:20 AM Re: Is time an abstract idea? [Re: exnihilo]
eccles Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 04/17/09
Posts: 149
exnihilo,

Would you say that the major paradox associated with time is this ?...in order to get a "handle" on time we need to investigate origins or "beginnings" BUT the concept of "beginning" itself presupposes the concept of "time".

BTW, the dichotomy between "abstract" and "concrete" concepts is an oxymoron. No "concept" is itself objectively observable, only (perhaps) its selective focus.

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#31976 - 09/12/09 07:40 AM Re: Is time an abstract idea? [Re: eccles]
coberst Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 07/04/07
Posts: 369
Originally Posted By: eccles
exnihilo,

Would you say that the major paradox associated with time is this ?...in order to get a "handle" on time we need to investigate origins or "beginnings" BUT the concept of "beginning" itself presupposes the concept of "time".

BTW, the dichotomy between "abstract" and "concrete" concepts is an oxymoron. No "concept" is itself objectively observable, only (perhaps) its selective focus.


One can analyze the nature of our psyche from the phenomenological and from the neurobiological aspect. SGCS (Second Generation Cognitive Science) has, in the last several decades, developed theories about both of these aspects of human activity.

“A central tenet of an embodied cognitive theory of concepts is that concrete concepts (that is, concepts for concrete objects, events, and actions) are processed using sensorimotor areas of the brain…The guiding idea here is that thinking using a concrete concept involve activating many of the same sensorimotor neural clusters that would be activated in actually perceiving something, manipulating an object, or moving one’s body.”

Such ideas as one finds in the above quote seem to me to be obvious if one considers Darwin’s theory of natural selection. If natural selection is a true theory then there must be continuity throughout the chain of being. Thus humans, like their non-human ancestors, must be expected to use these sensorimotor neural networks for concrete experience.

We generally speak about knowledge from a phenomenological perspective; recent developments in neuroscience, however limited, suggest some of the neural bases for conceptualization.

“Concepts are neural activation patterns that can either be “turned on” by some actual perceptual or motoric event in our bodies, or else activated when we merely think about something, without actually perceiving it or performing a specific action.”

Have you ever performed this mental imaging of an athletic performance just before attempting to do it?

If you have learned to type have you ever, like me, asked your self where on the key board is “y” and discovered you had to depend upon your fingers for that information?

If all concrete concepts result from sensorimotor aided experience does this mean that all concepts, either concrete or subjective, are grounded in sensorimotor aided experience?

Quotes from The Meaning of the Body: Aesthetics of Human Understanding by Mark Johnson

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#31977 - 09/12/09 08:20 AM Re: Is time an abstract idea? [Re: coberst]
eccles Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 04/17/09
Posts: 149
coberst,

What you fail to understand is that terms like "sensorimotor" pre-suppose an informational world-view based on mechanical modelling involving "inputs" and "outputs". The supposition that "cognitive events" are in some way isomorphic (metaphorical derivatives) with respect to such models is reductionist speculation, irrespective of whether "information" is actively selected. Such selectivity merely refers to more complex mechanistic models like "finite state machines", where the "states" are pre-defined "schemata" (a la Lakoff).Neural nets can be seen as "finite state machine networks" OR NOT according to the orientation of the investigator. Hammeroff and Penrose for example see "consciousness" as a result of quantum events emanating from the micro-tubules of individual neurones.Evolution doesn't come into it!


(See my comments on "observer realms" re-Maturana in the PM. Maturana rejects concepts like "information" for the understanding of "life processes" aka "cognition".).

ADDED LATER,

As for "concepts" at the frontiers of physics, these often owe their coherence to the counter-intuitive mathematical models employed. Lakoff (and Nunez)'s attempts to encompass such mathematics as "embodiment metaphors" have been scathingly dismissed. As one wag put it "I'd like to see how "embodiment" can account for the idea of a number raised to a complex exponent"! (We might note here that complex exponents are rife in wave mechanics)


Edited by eccles (09/12/09 09:18 AM)

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#31978 - 09/12/09 09:38 PM Re: Is time an abstract idea? [Re: eccles]
exnihilo Offline
Member

Registered: 09/11/09
Posts: 48
Yes!

And that is just the conunbrum, and why theory has tried to impose a beginning through the speculation of a big bang. There is nothing in theory or our concept of reality mandating a beginning. By all appearances the universe is infinite and from a certain perspective theory suggests energy is also infinite. Its impossible for science to see that at this time because relying on "speculation" of the bang prevents any infinities to be allowed in their equations which disallows the posibility of absolute understanding; and science wants that more than anything. But if one thinks in terms of the man-made structure of energy than time does become abstract. However, if time is is locked up in energy, and it is, than time becomes just as much of a reality as energy. You may ask how is one to think on any other terms? Well, that answer lies in understanding how we got to this point and the history of theory. The whole of theory is kind of like algebra; if one makes one little mistake on one side of the equation than the other side will be monumentally wrong. And if one makes a series of these mistakes over time than one gets what we have today in theory, a complete lack of understanding.

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#31979 - 09/12/09 11:55 PM Re: Is time an abstract idea? [Re: exnihilo]
eccles Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 04/17/09
Posts: 149
exnihilo,

Your "intolerence of infinities" point has psychological as well as mathematical aspects. We seem to have a wired-in disposition towards "closure" which manifests perceptually (night sky seen as flattened dome) and cognitively as a search for "ultimate causes" (monotheism and the concept of "a creator").
It seems to me that infinite regresses are unavoidable for we are imevitably bound by Godel's incompleteness theorem implying at least one assumed axiom.

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#31981 - 09/13/09 04:10 AM Re: Is time an abstract idea? [Re: eccles]
exnihilo Offline
Member

Registered: 09/11/09
Posts: 48
I do have an intolerance for infinities and your prescient noting of psychological and mathematical intolerance is right on, also your idea of wired disposition, but that is nothing new. While we indeed begin with a clean slate. I suggest to you that by our very nature and from that which we arise we are predisposed in a particular direction to circumnavigate our existence and find resolution to what drives us in that direction. Current thought takes us in the wrong direction because we insist resolution must come from what we have determined about existence, when nothing of a fundamental nature has been determined at all. I will quality this last statement in the following way.

When one visits physical theory and its history, one glaring observation can be made. From the beginning to date theory is riddled with mystery, paradox, uncertainty, and it continues to get worse. For example, particle theory is a mystery within a mystery as evidenced by conclusions drawn from it, and any noted physicist would tell you the theory is in total disarray. Energy has been fragmented into isolated parts and now the universe can't be put back together in a cohesive. No answere are forthcoming and never will be until science goes back to the drawing board. Everything we study in physics is a physical event beginning with the particle and this is where current thought stops. Everything we observe is an aggregate of something else, and when we get to particles the observations stop. A particle, or energy, is an aggregate of what?? Is this really the end-game??

So now we find ourselves lingering at the doorstep of philosaphy. Suppose I suggest to you it is a philosophical concept that may indeed be the solution if it can put the universe back together again. And further suppose energy is an essence of something more fundamental than itself? The only thing standing in the way is man himself, because he has fully accepted particles is all there is. Therefore, dark energy is beginning to get some play but even now science insist space be composed of some kind of exotic "particle"??




what a shame.

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#31982 - 09/13/09 08:31 AM Re: Is time an abstract idea? [Re: exnihilo]
eccles Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 04/17/09
Posts: 149
The philosophy of existence (ontology) has recently focused on the status of language (having been displaced by "psychology" for investigations of "cognition"...Numerous references including Heidegger, Wittgenstein, Quine and Rorty). From this focus emerges the view that it may be futile to search for trancendental absolutes, either in language itself or in "the world" to which it refers.It may be that "meaning" can only reside in "usage for particular purposes". Thus "particles" are merely "nodes of iner-relationship" within a particular scientific paradigm. Whether such a view is "philosophical" or nor is a mute point.


Edited by eccles (09/13/09 08:32 AM)

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#31985 - 09/13/09 05:31 PM Re: Is time an abstract idea? [Re: exnihilo]
Zephir Offline
Superstar

Registered: 07/01/08
Posts: 498
Originally Posted By: exnihilo
A particle, or energy, is an aggregate of what??
Of another particles.

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#31986 - 09/13/09 05:47 PM Re: Is time an abstract idea? [Re: exnihilo]
Zephir Offline
Superstar

Registered: 07/01/08
Posts: 498
Originally Posted By: exnihilo
There is nothing in theory or our concept of reality mandating a beginning.
This is why AWT doesn't considers the beginning of Universe. It simply doesn't need concept of origin (which brings only questions for another origin and it explains nothing in fact).



The picture above illustrates the light spreading in vacuum by splash ripples at the water surface. These ripples gradually decays and increase their frequency from outer perspective. From inside perspective (i.e. the perspective of observer sitting at the water surface and observing space-time formed by its waves) the perspective would became exactly as opposite. He would see expanding space in omnidirectional way and waves ending their life in background noise in remote distance. He can still interpret such observation as a Big Bang event - but the another, remote observer would see exactly the same thing at the place of first observer!

Bellow is picture of Hubble ultradeep field at the moment, when Universe was just only 5 percent of its present age. Despite of this, we still cannot see any evidence of Universe evolution there - only separated huge galaxies, which are apparently quite well developed and old.




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#31988 - 09/13/09 07:38 PM Re: Is time an abstract idea? [Re: eccles]
exnihilo Offline
Member

Registered: 09/11/09
Posts: 48
I suggested "philosophical" because once our fragmentation of energy reaches particles there is no pardigm for what may be below that as a sub-quantum level of understanding. And there is one. Consequently, we get philosophical in trying to articulate what may be beyond particles.Bohm and his team felt there might be one but I'm not sure if his work continued after his death. His thinking was doomed to failure, however, because in the end particles were considered as a main focus. Particles are not the answer to unity. Today, dark energy is beginning to get some serious attention and in a way it is pleading with the inquiry to view it as it really is, an "essence" of something for which there are no known instruments able to detect it. So this begs the question how is it possible to understand it? Well, Einstein didn't need particles to understand, he led with intuition and logic, and then found the math to explain it. Which is a tool that kind of lays on top of the universe by which we connect points to construct form, and it is given depth by layers of dimension. How are we know of that essence? Well, that too comes from intuition and logic and not from math. Math is sterile and has no power to describe an essence, only its manifestation. Nature is a beguiling creature but it is benevolent. It guides in the right direction, it even leaves clues galore to understanding, but it is not based on man's terms, it is based on nature's. The story of this as one might suspect is voluminous.

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#31989 - 09/13/09 07:40 PM Re: Is time an abstract idea? [Re: Zephir]
exnihilo Offline
Member

Registered: 09/11/09
Posts: 48
Read my response to eccles.

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#31996 - 09/14/09 09:51 AM Re: Is time an abstract idea? [Re: exnihilo]
coberst Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 07/04/07
Posts: 369
A philosophy professor told me long ago "philosophy is about radically critical self-consciousness". That is to say that the philosopher looks inward in an attempt to formulate a basis for thinking about the appearances of nature.

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