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Author Topic: Is infinity an illusion?  (Read 68610 times)

Offline webplodder

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Re: Is infinity an illusion?
« Reply #325 on: 18/10/2013 16:35:38 »
Quote from: JP
Define "nothing."  Define "come from."  Keep in mind that we're outside the universe which contains all (known) space and time.

Nothing:  Complete absence of anything, known or unknown to us.



Comes from (as used here):  Is caused, created or otherwise brought into existence by.


What this seems to imply is that we can never know or define nothing since any 'idea' of nothing is itself not nothing as it is an idea. Now, as we know, an idea is really the electrochemical activity of the brain (at least we will use that as a working definition unless and until we know better) so it must be something. No doubt, there are ideas or concepts that have yet to be experienced, however, it seems to me that for any meaningful purposes nothing cannot exist. Even if you talked about a complete vacuum containing no atoms, quarks, virtual particles and the rest, you will still be left with the ideas of space and time and dimension, which are not nothing. Science cannot exist within a framework of nothing because it needs to measure things and nothing cannot be measured! A puzzling question to me is: do things already exist before we think about them or do they come into being by the processes of consciousness? The reason I pose this question is because it is always possible to ask "what went before?", but an eternal universe, with no beginning or end, doesn't seem to make much sense to me since it seems to defy cause-and-effect. If something is uncaused how then does it give rise to causality? How can causality suddenly spring from nowhere? A more logical, if more startling, conclusion would be that it is consciousness itself that defines reality because this way we only have to worry about stuff we can think about rather that what might or might not already exist. The problem about an eternal universe then disappears because it is only as 'real' as our ideas.
 

Offline dlorde

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Re: Is infinity an illusion?
« Reply #326 on: 18/10/2013 18:43:15 »
... A more logical, if more startling, conclusion would be that it is consciousness itself that defines reality because this way we only have to worry about stuff we can think about rather that what might or might not already exist. The problem about an eternal universe then disappears because it is only as 'real' as our ideas.
That sounds too much like solipsism. I don't see that it helps at all; apart from the philosophical cul-de-sac of solipsism, you still have to account for consciousness itself, and you've now removed any causal material basis for it. You also have the problem of how we can discover new things and be surprised by them if they're defined by our consciousness...
 

Offline Bill S

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Re: Is infinity an illusion?
« Reply #327 on: 18/10/2013 20:00:35 »
Quote from: JP
since science deals with measurable which are necessarily tied to "somethings"

Does science deal with infinities?

Are infinities measurable? 

Quote
If you think "nothing" is scientifically useful, I suspect the burden of proof is on you that it can be so before we start using it to make predictions about the universe.

I am certainly not saying that “nothing” is scientifically useful.  In fact I am trying to investigate what might be the effect on science – and everything else – if there had ever been nothing.  So far no one has convinced me that, had there ever been nothing, there would now be scientists to discuss what might or might not be scientifically useful. 
 

Offline Bill S

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Re: Is infinity an illusion?
« Reply #328 on: 18/10/2013 20:12:55 »
Quote from: Webplodder
What this seems to imply is that we can never know or define nothing since any 'idea' of nothing is itself not nothing as it is an idea

Of course an idea is something; but having an idea of "nothing" does not make it something, any more than having an idea of Mount Everest upside down would actually invert that geological feature.
 

Offline webplodder

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Re: Is infinity an illusion?
« Reply #329 on: 18/10/2013 20:59:53 »
Quote
That sounds too much like solipsism. I don't see that it helps at all; apart from the philosophical cul-de-sac of solipsism, you still have to account for consciousness itself, and you've now removed any causal material basis for it. You also have the problem of how we can discover new things and be surprised by them if they're defined by our consciousness...

But how can we similarly account for any causal basis for an eternal universe? The concept of an eternal universe removes any causal chain leading to what we see today because, by definition, there can never be any original cause. The only way out is to reject such a notion and accept that 'classical' ideas about time and space are merely illusions - illusions created by the mind. Is this not itself "a new thing?"

If it turns out that consciousness is the only basis of reality then it cannot obey the same rules of cause-and-effect that we see in material objects, despite giving rise to it.
« Last Edit: 19/10/2013 09:32:07 by webplodder »
 

Offline webplodder

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Re: Is infinity an illusion?
« Reply #330 on: 18/10/2013 21:03:32 »
Quote from: Webplodder
What this seems to imply is that we can never know or define nothing since any 'idea' of nothing is itself not nothing as it is an idea

Of course an idea is something; but having an idea of "nothing" does not make it something, any more than having an idea of Mount Everest upside down would actually invert that geological feature.

Is it not a truism that any scientific theory one can name began only as an idea? All of reality is, in the final analysis, an idea. Even using the word " nothing" is, in a sense, producing "something" that attempts to describe an idea.
« Last Edit: 19/10/2013 09:38:43 by webplodder »
 

Offline JP

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Re: Is infinity an illusion?
« Reply #331 on: 18/10/2013 21:25:14 »
Let me address your points in reverse order:

I am certainly not saying that “nothing” is scientifically useful.  In fact I am trying to investigate what might be the effect on science – and everything else – if there had ever been nothing. 

I'll go one further, then. "Nothing" in the sense you're using it is a scientifically vacuous term: it has no useful meaning.  It in no way relates to any measurements we can or ever will make.  This is different in one important respect from the concept of infinity.  Regardless of whether infinity can exist or not in nature, we can approximate certain things as infinite if they are simply very large in order to simplify our calculations, so it serves some purpose in physics.  We can never approximate anything as "absolute nothing" since that term is meaningless to physicists.

Quote
So far no one has convinced me that, had there ever been nothing, there would now be scientists to discuss what might or might not be scientifically useful. 
This is a loaded statement: one doesn't need to convince you of this, since the statement "had there ever been nothing, there would now be scientists to discuss what might or might not be scientifically useful" is meaningless in a scientific sense.  We can't convince you of this because we can't talk about nothing and what might arise from it in a meaningful way.  This is very similar to someone saying "No one has convinced me that god didn't make the universe."  Sure, you can hold that opinion, and a god defined in the right way can never be disproven by science, so it's a scientifically useless statement.


Quote from: JP
since science deals with measurable which are necessarily tied to "somethings"

Does science deal with infinities?

Are infinities measurable? 
First, I'd like to point out that we could have the case where your argument holds no water and infinity isn't physical.  I'm not arguing that infinity exists.  I'm arguing against the logical fallacies being brought up in the thread to provide reason to believe that it doesn't exist.  My claim is that these arguments, in particular yours about something being unable to come from nothing, have no meaning and can't be used to tell us about the existence or nonexistence of physical infinity.

Second, science does deal with infinities, in the sense I've pointed out several times: as approximations to very large things.  This is very important because it at least gives us some reason to think a physical infinity (if it exists) might have some bearing on reality (unlike "absolute nothing").  Are they measurable is an open question.  Clearly we are finite constructs, so I doubt we can ever measure infinity directly.  The critical point is that those scientists who do or don't believe it is physical are making arguments based on what we can measure to test their ideas.  The no-infinity camp is looking for consequences if space is discretized (so no infinitesimals) or the universe is finite.  Similarly, the infinite-universe camp is looking for measurable consequences as well.


-------

By the way, I'm intending this as friendly debate--when I reread it, I saw that "scientifically meaningless" might come across sounding overly critical, but it's not a bad idea to have.  I just think it is an idea that ends up leading nowhere useful when you try to develop testable, scientific models based on it.

And I to tend to agree with you that in the end, physical infinity is probably not real, but I don't think anyone has figured out a way to test for its existence one way or the other yet!  I feel that it's important as a scientist to distinguish between what you feel is true and what you can back up with scientific rigor as true.
« Last Edit: 18/10/2013 22:21:09 by JP »
 

Offline Bill S

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Re: Is infinity an illusion?
« Reply #332 on: 19/10/2013 16:16:35 »
Quote from: JP
I'll go one further, then. "Nothing" in the sense you're using it is a scientifically vacuous term: it has no useful meaning.  It in no way relates to any measurements we can or ever will make.

Is this tantamount to saying “if we can’t measure it, it doesn’t exist”?  That would be a bit dogmatic for my taste, but I would be very happy with the idea that “nothing”, or perhaps I should say “the state of nothingness”, cannot exist. 

OK, someone is going to say: “You can’t have a state of nothingness, because a state is something.”  However, I’m more interested in the discussion than the semantics.  I acknowledge the difficulty of discussing infinity when our language is based in the finite, and discussing nothingness when our existence is essentially something-based.  I think it’s worth trying, though.

Quote
we can approximate certain things as infinite if they are simply very large in order to simplify our calculations

As I have said before, I have no problem with this as long as we accept that these are approximations that cannot actually be infinite.     

The way in which scientists use “nothing”, e.g. “a universe from nothing” seems very much like using “nothing” as an approximation for “something ethereal”.
 

Offline Bill S

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Re: Is infinity an illusion?
« Reply #333 on: 19/10/2013 16:30:59 »
Quote from: JP
This is a loaded statement: one doesn't need to convince you of this, since the statement "had there ever been nothing, there would now be scientists to discuss what might or might not be scientifically useful" is meaningless in a scientific sense.

If "nothing"  is meaningless in a scientific sense, does this mean that science maintains that there must always have been something, or is “eternal something” scientifically meaningless as well?

NB. I’m not being deliberately awkward here, but if I feel something is within my ability to understand, it is not in my nature to let go of it until I come as near to understanding as I can.  This is probably why, years ago on a geology trip to Arran, I became known as “Bloody Bill”.  I’ve not changed much.  :)

 

Offline Bill S

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Re: Is infinity an illusion?
« Reply #334 on: 19/10/2013 16:38:06 »
Quote from: JP
And I to tend to agree with you that in the end, physical infinity is probably not real

Are we at cross purposes here?  I am certainly not saying that physical infinity is unreal.  In fact, logically, I see no way to escape its reality.  This is one reason for my persistence; I need to know if/how my logic might be flawed. 
 

Offline webplodder

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Re: Is infinity an illusion?
« Reply #335 on: 19/10/2013 17:47:13 »
Quote from: JP
This is a loaded statement: one doesn't need to convince you of this, since the statement "had there ever been nothing, there would now be scientists to discuss what might or might not be scientifically useful" is meaningless in a scientific sense.

If "nothing"  is meaningless in a scientific sense, does this mean that science maintains that there must always have been something, or is “eternal something” scientifically meaningless as well?

NB. I’m not being deliberately awkward here, but if I feel something is within my ability to understand, it is not in my nature to let go of it until I come as near to understanding as I can.  This is probably why, years ago on a geology trip to Arran, I became known as “Bloody Bill”.  I’ve not changed much.  :)



I'm probably way off beam here but I have an inkling we might eventually be forced to accept a model of the universe and reality that is both infinite AND finite, both eternal AND otherwise depending on how we wish to explain phenomena. This does sound crazy but bear in mind it is the job of science to provide supportable evidence to account for what is observed, not to make religious proclamations about who or what made the universe and why we are here. We only have to turn to the strange behaviour of quantum mechanics to realise things are far from what our common sense would have us believe. This may seem like giving up on any possibility of answering the really big questions but to seek scientific answers to perplexing questions leaves us in such a position.
 

Offline JP

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Re: Is infinity an illusion?
« Reply #336 on: 19/10/2013 19:23:43 »
Bill, to address your points:

1) We don't have to directly measure something to render it scientific, but we have to have a model which makes testable predictions and depends on that "something."  For example (and without any basis in fact here), let's say we find out that there's a constant that will have one value if the universe if infinite and another if it is finite.  We could measure that parameter to answer the question "is the universe infinite?" without having to measure the size of the universe directly. 

1a) Therefore, to answer whether there was ever "absolute nothing" we'd have to have a model that discriminates in terms of measurables between a scenario in which there was at one point "absolute nothing" and one in which there was not. 

1b) My claim is that neither you, nor anyone else can come up with such a model.  The arguments you've given so far which are along the lines of "something cannot come from nothing" is basing a model on opinion with no connection to physics--at least until you define what processes are available for things to "arise" and define precisely "absolute nothing" in a form that plugs usefully into that model.  "Arising from" in the context of the universe not yet existing is hard enough, but "absolute nothing" is a metaphysical concept without physical utility.  I don't think it's worth going into "nothing" again in this thread.  It was pretty clear from the thread about "absolute nothing" that it's a nebulous metaphysical concept that no one could really nail down except by saying it was the absence of everything. 

2) I agree that "the universe from nothing" is very poorly chosen phrasing that confuses laypersons.  When physicists say "nothing," they mean something specific, for example vacuum, which is certainly "something," if perhaps a very empty something.  The impetus to sell books can make scientists jazz up their titles for laypersons a bit more than should probably be done.

3) I think we both agree that "infinity" is useful mathematically, and that we both agree that we do not yet know if it's real or not in a physical sense (the size of the universe, for example). 

4) Your question:
Quote
If "nothing"  is meaningless in a scientific sense, does this mean that science maintains that there must always have been something, or is “eternal something” scientifically meaningless as well?
I think your first problem is "eternal," which assumes time always existed and therefore makes this a bit circular.  I suspect science is always going to deal with "somethings" though, since everything eventually has to tie back to measurable quantities and this always requires defining models.  The minute we define a model about anything, it becomes a "something."  So scientific answers probably will always avoid "absolute nothing" because it can't plug into a model in any useful way.  This places limits on what science can describe, but we already know that to be the case.  We can always define a god such that science can't answer questions of its existence, for example.  Absolute nothing is a similar concept.

4b) Let's say we do come up with an ultimate theory that explains everything in existence.  Let's say also that it describes that the "initial" (again, we're limited by terms dealing with time) state of things was that nothing in existence was there--it was a blank slate from which some processes occurred to generate everything.  Even then, this blank slate is not absolute nothing, since it has the potential to generate everything, which is a property.  "Absolute nothing" could not have properties.

5) Logically, infinity doesn't have to exist.  Let's say we prove we can never go beyond the universe in any experiments and we also find the universe is finite and that space and time consist of discrete units on a fundamental level.  Then physics will never have a real infinity present in it.  We can speculate philosophically or religiously about what is outside the universe, and whether infinities could exist there, but it's not a scientific question since we can't ever address it. 

6) It strikes me as I write this, that part of the problem is that you're looking for absolute answers, whereas physics is only capable of generating answers to a certain set of questions that can be scientifically framed.  A lot of ideas of infinity or absolute nothing are simply outside of this set of questions.
 

Offline grizelda

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Re: Is infinity an illusion?
« Reply #337 on: 19/10/2013 19:36:59 »
I once had a theory that the universe reconfigured itself randomly every planck instant, and our experience was those instants which made that experience valid, all other instants not figuring in consciousness, i.e. nothing. Since most random reconfigurations of the universe would not work for us, there would be an eternity between instants which figured in our experience. So our experience would be finite but spread out over infinity.
 

lean bean

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Re: Is infinity an illusion?
« Reply #338 on: 20/10/2013 10:34:21 »
Are we at cross purposes here?  I am certainly not saying that physical infinity is unreal.  In fact, logically, I see no way to escape its reality.
Bill, is this where I came in...http://www.astro.ucla.edu/~wright/infpoint.html
Quote
The Universe was not concentrated into a point at the time of the Big Bang. But the observable Universe was concentrated into a point.
Here is a cosmologist  Prof.(Ned) Wright not requiring an infinitesimally small beginning.

About the 'infinitesimally small' thing...
I maybe be wrong ,but I thought the extrapolation of equations backwards, only make ’sense’ back to the end of the Planck era…10^-43 sec after bb.  So, before 10^-43 sec I would ask,where’s the evidence to say it started infinitesimally small?

Ps, it is I, lean bean :)

« Last Edit: 20/10/2013 11:19:33 by beany »
 

Offline Pmb

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Re: Is infinity an illusion?
« Reply #339 on: 21/10/2013 07:50:52 »
Quote from: JP
1b) My claim is that neither you, nor anyone else can come up with such a model.  The arguments you've given so far which are along the lines of "something cannot come from nothing" is basing a model on opinion with no connection to physics--at least until you define what processes are available for things to "arise" and define precisely "absolute nothing" in a form that plugs usefully into that model. 
This is the best point that I’ve seen anybody make in this entire thread. It’s a shame that more people never took the lesson that quantum mechanics taught us much more seriously. QM taught us that its dangerous to attempt to use our physical intuition in areas where we have no experience. We have no experience with times that short and distances that small. We never have and we never will. Therefore using the intuition we’ve developed billions of years after the big bang on a scale of human dimensions (give or take factors of many tens) is not using very good logic.

Thanks JP. :)
 

Offline webplodder

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Re: Is infinity an illusion?
« Reply #340 on: 22/10/2013 13:46:51 »
I believe time is really just an illusion caused by our conscious experiences in order to allow us to exist as organisms. Fundamentally, time has no meaning and, therefore, when we examine our material universe we are faced with perplexing questions about how old the universe is and what gave rise to it and what gave rise to that, ad infinitum. It is assumed that our sense experiences are reflecting the true nature of reality but in making such an assumption we inevitably run into problems about causality which can have no meaning in an eternal multiverse. Some people put forth the view that time, space and causality were introduced at the time of the big bang but this is little better because we are then immediately faced with the question of how causality can be uncaused ; it is little better than saying God did it! Although very difficult, we have to ditch the idea of time and space and try to embrace a model of reality that does not follow regular rules but is actually very schizophrenic in nature and that the parameters we place on our experiences are just artificial illusions, being simply special cases of a much greater truth.
« Last Edit: 22/10/2013 15:41:11 by webplodder »
 

Offline dlorde

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Re: Is infinity an illusion?
« Reply #341 on: 22/10/2013 14:10:15 »
I believe time is really just an illusion caused by our conscious experiences in order to allow us to exist as organisms.

This implies that time doesn't exist (which needs a thread to itself), and that if we weren't conscious, we wouldn't exist as organisms - which doesn't sound plausible, given the multitudes of organisms that appear to exist quite happily despite not being conscious...
« Last Edit: 22/10/2013 14:13:33 by dlorde »
 

Offline webplodder

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Re: Is infinity an illusion?
« Reply #342 on: 22/10/2013 15:38:56 »
I believe time is really just an illusion caused by our conscious experiences in order to allow us to exist as organisms.

This implies that time doesn't exist (which needs a thread to itself), and that if we weren't conscious, we wouldn't exist as organisms - which doesn't sound plausible, given the multitudes of organisms that appear to exist quite happily despite not being conscious...

You seem to be making a distinction between people being conscious and other organisms as not being conscious. Why should it be all or nothing? Surely we can see that animals such as chimps and other primates possess awareness and consciousness, though not to the same degree as us, therefore, they too experience the passing of time as a unidirectional experience. In my view, every organism possesses SOME consciousness because it is through being able to be conscious that organisms can adapt to their environment. We all evolved on this planet and so had to find solutions to the problems of survival which has favoured those species who hit upon the correct solutions, i.e., things like sight, hearing, smell, touch and so on. Even an amoeba has to have the ability to feed and sense its surroundings to some extent and this, I believe, is how consciousness developed.
 

Offline Pmb

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Re: Is infinity an illusion?
« Reply #343 on: 22/10/2013 17:38:10 »
Quote from: webplodder
I believe time is really just an illusion caused by our conscious experiences in order to allow us to exist as organisms.
I strongly disagree. When physicists use the term time they have something very specific in mind. Time is a measurable phenomenon and is defined according to the change in things that are not related to different locations in space. E.g. think of a room with four boxes in it, one box sitting on the floor in each corner of the room. Now think of the same room and the same boxes but where the boxes are no longer in the corner but are stacked on top of each other in the middle of the room. This is a obviously a measurable phenomenon. We define time to denote the two configurations. We say that the rooms only differ in “time.”

Quote from: webplodder
Fundamentally, time has no meaning and, ..
Why would you say that? It’s clearly a well defined term whose meaning is also well defined. So in what sense are you claiming that it has no meaning?

If you want a very clear and precise definition of the concept please see
http://users.wfu.edu/brehme/time.htm

It’s very well done. The author was a GR expert in his day. He’s retired now.

Quote from: webplodder
It is assumed that our sense experiences are reflecting the true nature of reality but in making such an assumption we inevitably run into problems about causality which can have no meaning in an eternal multiverse.
I believe that you’re confusing physical time with personal time.
 

Offline Pmb

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Re: Is infinity an illusion?
« Reply #344 on: 22/10/2013 17:50:49 »
The Foundational Questions Institute[/i] as a category for this under their website which is located at http://www.fqxi.org/community/forum/category/10

Consider the tact that someone else took on this subject, i.e. Space does not exist, so time can. by Fotini Markopoulou
Quote
I argue that the problem of time is a paradox,
stemming from an unstated faulty premise. Our faulty assumption is that space is real. I propose that what does not fundamentally exist is not time but space, geometry and gravity. The quantum theory of gravity will be spaceless, not timeless. If we are willing to throw out space, we can keep time and the trade is worth it.
Yikes! I've heard it all now.
 

Offline dlorde

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Re: Is infinity an illusion?
« Reply #345 on: 22/10/2013 18:00:17 »
You seem to be making a distinction between people being conscious and other organisms as not being conscious.
No, not really. Plenty of other organisms are conscious; I was pointing out that the capability for conscious experience is not of existential importance, as demonstrated by trillions of organisms not capable of conscious experience.

Quote
Why should it be all or nothing? Surely we can see that animals such as chimps and other primates possess awareness and consciousness, though not to the same degree as us, therefore, they too experience the passing of time as a unidirectional experience.
Yes, of course.

Quote
In my view, every organism possesses SOME consciousness because it is through being able to be conscious that organisms can adapt to their environment.
That looks like an equivocation of 'consciousness'; you were talking about time being an illusion caused by conscious experience; which suggests a nervous system capable of mapping & interpreting. But simple responsiveness is rather different.

But that's OK, I'm just trying to discover what you meant by our conscious experiences causing the illusion of time to allow us to exist as organisms.

If conscious experience causes the illusion of time which is necessary to exist as an organism, then all existing organisms must cause the illusion of time. Which suggests that bacteria, plants, fungi, etc., have conscious experience that can cause the illusion of time.  I'm not sure that's what you meant, so I was hoping you'd clarify.
« Last Edit: 22/10/2013 18:02:46 by dlorde »
 

Offline Bill S

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Re: Is infinity an illusion?
« Reply #346 on: 22/10/2013 18:24:34 »
my absence does not mean I have lost interest, or that I don't appreciate the efforts of others.  Time is short - as usual - but last Sunday I managed to take part in a geology field trip in Suffolk, and hope to fit in another next weekend.  Splashing around in the mud will always take pride of place over the computer keyboard.  Having said that, there are always the notes to write up. 

As someone once, famously, said:  "I'll be back."
 

Offline webplodder

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Re: Is infinity an illusion?
« Reply #347 on: 24/10/2013 12:35:45 »
Quote from: webplodder
I believe time is really just an illusion caused by our conscious experiences in order to allow us to exist as organisms.
I strongly disagree. When physicists use the term time they have something very specific in mind. Time is a measurable phenomenon and is defined according to the change in things that are not related to different locations in space. E.g. think of a room with four boxes in it, one box sitting on the floor in each corner of the room. Now think of the same room and the same boxes but where the boxes are no longer in the corner but are stacked on top of each other in the middle of the room. This is a obviously a measurable phenomenon. We define time to denote the two configurations. We say that the rooms only differ in “time.”


Yes, but my problem with this approach is that although this model of time seems to work well within specific frames of reference, when you try to apply it to an eternal universe it does not seem to work. What do I mean? Well, we ask the question: what caused the Big Bang, ok? Now, let us assume we manage to come up with a workable theory about that (which may or may not be correct). Sooner or later, we have to confront another question about what gave rise to that particular model and this process has the potential to go on forever, never reaching any final solution. What this means is that we can never find any original cause, so we then have the problem of trying to answer how causality can arise from an apparently causeless universe! I don't think we can because it seems to destroy the legitimacy of causality since it is based on an irrationality (i.e. an eternal universe) and the underpinning of this difficulty is the concept of time itself as being a forward flowing aspect of reality. In view of this it seems inevitable to me that we need to adopt a new model of reality which avoids such a huge contradiction where time and, therefore, space are fundamentally unseperated and where time does not "flow" but is actually static and it is only our conscious attention to the incredibly complex interwoven fabric of the universe that seems to make time real. So, what it comes down to is when we think about time it is not that a thing called "time" really exists but as a result of the mechanisms of consciousness which can switch its attention, leading to the illusion of time.
 

Offline webplodder

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Re: Is infinity an illusion?
« Reply #348 on: 24/10/2013 13:05:06 »
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If conscious experience causes the illusion of time which is necessary to exist as an organism, then all existing organisms must cause the illusion of time. Which suggests that bacteria, plants, fungi, etc., have conscious experience that can cause the illusion of time.  I'm not sure that's what you meant, so I was hoping you'd clarify.


Exactly, that is my point.

Allow me to approach this from a different direction. A piece of wood, for example, it not alive and so does not possess any consciousness. Since a piece of wood is not conscious it has zero ability to experience the passing if time and has zero ability to be aware of its environment, let alone the universe in which we live. It is only the possession of consciousness that permits its owner to experience the passing if time and history and, indeed, the concept of cause-and-effect. So, I suppose I'm reaching the conclusion that the essential difference between a human being and a piece if wood is complexity! It is complexity that allows us to be observers but that is not to imply we are passive observers but dynamic observers in that we collate, arrange, organise and analyse the myriad instances of our consciousness enables us to make. The same argument can be made for the difference between a piece of wood and a bacterium, say, because although a bacterium is nothing like a human being it is even less like a piece of wood!
 

Offline dlorde

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Re: Is infinity an illusion?
« Reply #349 on: 24/10/2013 13:34:22 »
The same argument can be made for the difference between a piece of wood and a bacterium, say, because although a bacterium is nothing like a human being it is even less like a piece of wood!
I'm aware of the varying complexities of wood, bacteria, and humans. But it's not just complexity that's relevant. A dead person is far more complex, yes, and dynamic, than a bacterium. But which has conscious experience (if either) ?

So, to repeat the question, are you saying that bacteria, fungi, plants, etc., all have conscious experience and can use it to generate the illusion of time?

If so, can you explain precisely what you mean by 'conscious experience' ?
 

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Re: Is infinity an illusion?
« Reply #349 on: 24/10/2013 13:34:22 »

 

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