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June 08, 2011

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Dr Anthony P. Stone

In my model "1 second per second" has no meaning, because the underlying time ("God's time") has no measure. See the section 'Time' on my website.

Valdi Ingthorsson

Assuming that you are concerned with the original worry about the suitability of the metaphor of ”flow” when characterising time, an early version of which is found in J.J.C. Smart’s ’The River of Time’ (1949), then I am not sure I see the relevance of your solution or argument. In fact, by admitting that what you call ‘qualitative’ time is ineffable, you seem to agree with Smart. The problem of making sense of the rate of the alleged ‘flow’ of time is not to find some context in which it makes sense to utter the sentence ”1 second per second”, because the problem is not about the meaning of words, or about whether it makes sense to speak of other things than time itself as having a rate. A clock, or anything which can be compared in some sense to time itself, has a rate because a clock is not time itself. Your solution is to find a setting where the two uses of ’second’ refer to different things, whereof one is not time itself. However, the original problem is whether the idea that time itself ‘flows’ makes any sense at all. That problem doesn’t go away by distinguishing between what the clock hands of moving and stationary clocks show, or even between time measured by clocks and—which you assume to be the real thing—‘qualitative’ flow. It is the sense of the idea of a rate of time itself, not of clocks, that is at stake. By admitting that qualitative/absolute time is ineffable, you seem to be implicitly admitting that it is not possible to make sense of the rate of time’s ‘flow’, and that was Smart’s point. I don’t take Smart to argue that ‘flow’ doesn’t refer to anything at all, just that it should not be taken to refer to anything that is in any significant way analogous to motion. We are urged to look elsewhere for a clarification of ‘flow’ than to some kind of rate of temporal motion.

PM

Dr. Stone, once you allow God you can "explain" anything you want.

Ingthorsson,"... the original problem is whether the idea that time itself ‘flows’ makes any sense at all." No, I assumed it makes sense.

"By admitting that qualitative/absolute time is ineffable, you seem to be implicitly admitting that it is not possible to make sense of the rate of time’s ‘flow’, and that was Smart’s point." By "ineffable" I only meant that it is a thing that exists for at most a proper subset of the objects in the ontology simultaneously.

Valdi

Pmerriam, you may well have assumed it makes sense, I don't dispute that. But, as I said, I assumed that you were addressing the well known controversy about the alleged absurdity of claiming that time flows by 1 second per second. If you assume it makes sense, and you are not addressing the problem raised by Smart, then what is the problem you are addressing?

Your second comment is a little to short for me to follow comletely. It may just be a terminological matter. Ineffable means 'inexpressible' (or 'forbidden to express', which isn't relevant here), so if time is ineffable becuase it only exists for a proper subset of the objects in the ontology simultaneously, then in what way is time 'inexpressible'? One guess would be that you are thnking of the popular idea that expressions acquire their meaning and truth value in virtue of what they refer to. If this is assumed then only those expressions that refer to those objects in the proper subset you have in mind (because they are the only ones that exist at a time), have a meaning and a truth value (in virtue of referring to something). This naturally leads to the idea that because only those expressions that do refer to the objects in the subset have a meaning (properly speaking), then it is not possible to express anything about time as a whole, and that in turn makes it difficult to really say anything about allegedly important features of time, such as being earlier than x, later than y etc. because we are always going to be one referent short for the expression to have a meaning and truth value in virtue of its reference. Obviously, it would make a lot of difference to the sense of this argument if meaning is grounded in something else than reference. Personally, I find this a reason to be sceptical about the idea that meaning is reference in this sense.

Paul

Valdi:

"It is the sense of the idea of a rate of time itself, not of clocks, that is at stake. By admitting that qualitative/absolute time is ineffable, you seem to be implicitly admitting that it is not possible to make sense of the rate of time’s ‘flow’, and that was Smart’s point."

I don't see what's wrong with 'time flows at 1 qualitative/absolute second per qualitative/absolute second' (or, "1 supersecond per supersecond). In fact I take this to be what Newton meant by "passes equably without relation to anything external" in his famous definition. I was trying to make sense of this in a relativistic context. Supposing it's true (as I do), how do we reconcile it with differing clock-rates of differing frames of reference in relativity?

I proposed ( http://reflectionsontime-pmer.blogspot.com/ ) that each frame has it's own 1. comesurate durations (correlations among various of its clocks) *and* 2. it's own qualitative/absolute temporal flow. These are all physically comparable to each other except the qualitative flows associated with each (actualized) frame of reference. The qualitative/absolute flows are not physically comparable with each other in the ontology of the theory. As I understand him, Kit Fine (2005) expresses the same idea when he talks about non-standard realism, the ueber-universe, fragmented reality etc... There is information that exists only relative to some particular instantiated perspective. It was taken by Fine (and at least one other person, ref. pending) that reality is fragmented along the lines of special relativity (I argue it is along the lines of quantum mechanics). Because it's fragmented this way the absolute/qualitative temporal flow can exist equably for each object, even though different frame's clocks can be correlated at a rate other than "1 clock-second per clock-second". I've called the elements of reality that are particular to objects, *ontology ineffable*. There is a picture on the blog.

It's probably not the best name, but it seemed motivated at the time.

Paul

I mean "ontologically ineffable".

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