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Introduction to My Blog Series about Space and Time

Written by Jeff Drake
8 · 19 · 21

Pink Floyd:
The sun is the same in a relative way but you’re older

Shorter of breath and one day closer to death

“Time” by Pink Floyd

I’ve decided to include in my blog about the philosophy of time a collection of select introductions to the philosophers and scientists who are of note within the field known academically as the philosophy of time. I will tell you something briefly about their lives and their theories, with the understanding that some of their theories will undergo a deeper analysis in subsequent posts. I only ask that as you read about these people and their theories, try to pick out the theories that appear to make sense to you and those that appear to be utter nonsense. Remember always that appearances can be deceiving. Also, expect to have your mind bent out of shape while trying to grasp what some of these theories are telling you. You may find one or another theory you thought made common sense is not so straightforward after all. Welcome to my world.

 

I’d be surprised if their names are going to be recognized by anyone reading this post, after all, the philosophy of time is still considered to be a somewhat esoteric field of study, although that is changing, thankfully. But as the philosophy of time field grows – and it is growing yearly, with more universities teaching it and advances in the study of time by both physicists and philosophers – I expect a few of these names will become more widely known among the general populace – over time.

I decided to call these people: Time Lords[i], both because I think it’s a fun analogy, but also because the subject they are researching and philosophizing about is one of the deepest mysteries of our universe. Philosophers are always willing to walk to the edge of the cliff, look down ask the biggest questions like “What is time?” Physicists tend to avoid the risk and ask more specifically, “Why is there an arrow of time?”  Both are extremely weighty questions and if you don’t know what the arrow of time is, no worries, I will explain it in this series. People pursuing such lofty research, in my opinion, require a lofty title. ?

The philosophy of time is considered to be within the field of metaphysics, thus I want to introduce you to this term, if you aren’t aware of it already:

“Metaphysics is a major branch of philosophy. It concerns existence and the nature of things that exist. … The metaphysical idea that reality exists independently of one’s mind and yet can be known is called realism. The metaphysical idea that no mind-independent reality exists or can be known is idealism.”[i]

Does it strike you as strange that one of the most common words in the English language is so hard to define?[i] I’m talking about time, of course. Think of all the varied ways we use this word. Here are just a few:

  • We find or lose time, like a set of keys.
  • We save time or spend it, like money.
  • Time creeps, crawls, flies, flows, and stands still.
  • Time is more than enough or scarce.
  • Time weighs on us.
  • Bells toll for a “long” time or a “short” time, as if their sound could be measured with a ruler.
  • Childhood recedes, deadlines loom.

These examples beg the question as to whether we know what the hell we are talking about when we discuss time, because clearly we don’t! Why don’t we? Just what is time anyway? Can you define it? I sure can’t, at least, not yet. The most I can hope to do really, is review the top-most theories about time and pick the one that seems to make the most sense to me. If you will do the same, perhaps we may finally agree on, if not a definition, at least a common understanding. Then again, maybe not.

[i] “Time” is the most common noun used in the English language, according to research conducted by CBS News.

[i] Wikipedia.

[i] From Wikipedia: “The Time Lords are an ancient race of extraterrestrial people in the British science fiction television series Doctor Who, of which the series’ main protagonist, the Doctor, is a member. Time Lords are so named for their command of time travel technology and their non-linear perception of time.”

Let us know what you think…

Comments

2 Comments

  1. Don Head

    Jeff, you are off to a great start with that introduction. I am looking forward to what you can do with the topic. “Time” was released in March of 1973. I was a 36-year-old horologist in Germany and Roger Waters was a 29-year-old musician in London. I was completely blown away by how profound the lyrics were, still am.
    https://genius.com/Pink-floyd-time-lyrics

    Reply
  2. Mike

    Looking forward to more.

    Reply

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Author

Jeff Drake

Retired IT consultant, world-traveler, hobby photographer, and philosopher.