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RECENT POSTS IN THIS TOPIC

Alexis: on 1/27/09 at 22:06pm UTC, wrote I am sorry but I don’t really understand what you mean when you say that ...

Narendra Nath: on 1/19/09 at 7:20am UTC, wrote Dear Alex, Sorry to miss any specific rejoinder to my comments on Dec., 21...

F. Le Rouge: on 1/3/09 at 14:38pm UTC, wrote - You are true to say that Rovelli is the opposite of Parmenide and I...

Alexis de Saint-Ours: on 1/1/09 at 20:12pm UTC, wrote Dear François-Xavier, Tom, Narendra and Matthew, Thank you for your...

matthew kolasinski: on 12/27/08 at 7:06am UTC, wrote Hello Alexis, i very much enjoyed reading your essay. it helped to clarify...

Narendra Nath: on 12/21/08 at 9:28am UTC, wrote Dear Alexis, Interesting evolution of thoughts and becoming, are not both...

T H Ray: on 12/14/08 at 9:52am UTC, wrote Alexis, Excellent essay. However, I do take issue with a key...

F. Le Rouge: on 12/6/08 at 10:30am UTC, wrote General Relativity is a Theory coming from music, not light (and Einstein...


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FQXi FORUM
October 29, 2020

CATEGORY: The Nature of Time Essay Contest (2008) [back]
TOPIC: The rediscovery of time through its disappearance by Alexis de Saint-Ours [refresh]
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Alexis de Saint-Ours wrote on Dec. 2, 2008 @ 14:41 GMT
Essay Abstract

There is many misunderstandings within the relationship between time and becoming. It is common to say that things become in time but also that time flows. Is time the unchanging scene of what changes or the essence of becoming ? With the concept of background independence, General Relativity has changed our understanding of space and time. Space and time can not anymore be considered as the passive containers of localisation and becoming. What are the foundational significance and epistemological impact of background independence ? We uphold that it has changed and clarified the long-standing debate between time and becoming, but also that it gives an a posteriori answer to Bergson’s criticism of time in physics. Time has often appeared as something less concrete and more immaterial than becoming. In this perspective, time has been understood as the structure of becoming or the concept whose content is change. The disappearance of the time coordinate and the relational understanding of evolution in General Relativity and a fortiori in Quantum Gravity, modify and reconfigure this traditional relation between time and becoming.

Author Bio

I am teaching assistant and associate researcher at the University of Paris 8. My work concerns philosophy of modern and contemporary physics, philosophy of time and the philosophical status of diagrams in mathematics and physics. My doctorate, which I will defend early next year, is about “Time and Relation in Relativity and Quantum Gravity”.

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F. Le Rouge wrote on Dec. 6, 2008 @ 10:30 GMT
General Relativity is a Theory coming from music, not light (and Einstein makes comparisons with organ pipes). Sound wave gives the illusion that Time is not only conventional.

In my opinion, fight of Bergson against Descartes Empiricism is unfinished, not so far away from Descartes that Bergson himself does believe he is.

(May be you will notice than in today Anglo-Saxon culture -and Asian culture- Time cannot be really questioned, that even those who want to forget it, aware that Superstring theory for instance is pure ideology, keep the Time as a convention although.)

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T H Ray wrote on Dec. 14, 2008 @ 09:52 GMT
Alexis,

Excellent essay. However, I do take issue with a key conclusion--you write: "The disappearance of time at the Planck scale has to be understood as the absence of a time-frame but more radically as the absence of a time-order. How then is one supposed to understand evolution at the Planck level ? Obviously, things evolve but they don’t evolve in time : there is change without time, i.e pure change."

Time doesn't disappear at the Planck scale, no more than measure disappears at measure zero. There is, moreover, physical meaning in evolution punctuated by discontinuous jumps. In biological evolution (Gould-Eldredge) punctuated equilibrium informs us that "stasis is data." In the evolution of particle life, a change in energy level is differentiated from stasis as a subset of the evolutionary process and not in opposition to it.

Tom

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Narendra Nath wrote on Dec. 21, 2008 @ 09:28 GMT
Dear Alexis,

Interesting evolution of thoughts and becoming, are not both these a part of human 'awareness'. When does any human become aware of oneself, right from conception in the womb or before formal birth or after sometime later! before a child starts speaking he is definitely aware of things around. If we tie 'awareness' with 'consciousness' and say that the latter has got several...

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matthew kolasinski wrote on Dec. 27, 2008 @ 07:06 GMT
Hello Alexis,

i very much enjoyed reading your essay. it helped to clarify issues i'd been looking at regarding the perception of time in physics. i particularly appreciated the observations from Whitehead. i've read a little of his work, but hadn't yet encountered what you presented here.

your paper helped deepen my understanding of Relativity. thank you.

your paper also helped me to better understand Carlo Rovelli's paper here. thank you for that also.

i have a slight disagreement with the physics in spite of how lovely it is, but that doesn't appear to actually be so much an argument with your work and will save those comments for Carlo.

a continuing conceptual evolutionary process...

thanks again,

matt kolasinski

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Alexis de Saint-Ours wrote on Jan. 1, 2009 @ 20:12 GMT
Dear François-Xavier, Tom, Narendra and Matthew,

Thank you for your comments. In writing this essay one of my goal was the following. I have tried to show that the fact that the time-coordinate in GR has no physical significance and the relational understanding of evolution in GR that follows, both clarify in physics the relations between change and time. Moreover, I believe that Carlo Rovelli’s ideas on time are not, as it has been very often claimed, the one of a Parmenidean. To the contrary.

The main dynamical equation of Canonical Quantum Gravity is an equation that does not factor evolution in time. This characteristic has led Julian Barbour to claim that at a fundamental level, reality is of a Parmenidean nature. Julian Barbour argues that the Wheeler-DeWitt equation pictures a timeless and changeless world "and simply gives relative probabilities for all the different possible three-dimensional configurations the universe could have".

Physicists like Karel Kuchaø have vigorously denied such theories and argued in favour of the Heraclitean nature of reality: "I do not want to see things evolving. I see things evolving, and I want to explain why I see them evolving."

Karel Kuchaø’s claim is Heraclitean only on the surface since there is nothing Bergsonian or Heraclitean in trying to understand evolution by referring it to a variable t.

The fact that the time-coordinate in GR has no physical significance, the relational understanding of evolution in GR that follows, and the emergence of time in Loop Quantum Gravity from a timeless level are truly Bergsonian since for the French philosopher, time or duration’s main attribute is change.

All the very best,

Alexis

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F. Le Rouge wrote on Jan. 3, 2009 @ 14:38 GMT
- You are true to say that Rovelli is the opposite of Parmenide and I demonstrate in my own essay that Einstein is 1/Zeno of Elea.

- As I am stating on Dr Rovelli's forum, criticizing a post he wrote himself on December 12, C.R. is not understanding Aristotle's Physics at all.

- Coming back to Bergson, the problem is that he wants to give consistancy with his duration to something -Time- that has no. Fighting against Descartes, Bergson is himself catched in Algebraic web.

- Max Planck himself, due to his rather concrete approach, was not 'happy' to use Boltzmann's Algebra that splits Matter artificially. So it is more logic to see in Pythagora or Descartes, or in AEinstein the Fathers of 'Quanta' than in M. Planck or N. Bohr.

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Narendra Nath wrote on Jan. 19, 2009 @ 07:20 GMT
Dear Alex,

Sorry to miss any specific rejoinder to my comments on Dec., 21 posting.Bit by bit discussion may well lead us to conclusions that may not hold for long. Discussing gravity only in the context of black holes and introducing its quantum aspect on that basis, is not the entire story of the role the Gravity played in the evolutionn of the Universe. That is why we are facing difficulty with its unision into a single Unified Field!

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Alexis wrote on Jan. 27, 2009 @ 22:06 GMT
I am sorry but I don’t really understand what you mean when you say that Bergson is caught in algebraic web. Moreover, I totally share Carlo Rovelli’s views on Aristotle’s physics

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