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March 27, 2013


David Pensgard

Time is perceived as if it were a dimension. This is reflected in our use of spatial language to refer to the past and future. This leads one to wonder if the experience and metaphysics match up in some way. Kant, of course, thinks that time is simply the way we organize and represent non-temporal (noumenal) reality; this would mean that any dimension-like properties of time are purely subjective. But, it seems to me that any approach other than Kant's requires some kind of similarity between the experience of time and the cause of the experience. Minimally, this similarity would involve some kind of order to explain experiential seriality. This underlying order need not be dimensional (spatial); it need only be some form of order that can be interpreted or experienced in a dimensional way. And, of course, adding cause-effect relationships and accounting for an open future add complexity to the question.

Jack James

Very well said!
We organise times reality, as dimensional properties. Is this the best way of comprehending time if we are to seek its true reality? (assuming it is possible) I am not sure. A 'physical' interaction that entails ordered passing, might be better suited.

David Pensgard

Thank you, James! It often seems that avoiding subjectivity is a great way to maintain rigor and to pursue the highest degree of justification in our conclusions. Subjectivity can seem to be the opposite of what we're looking for.

However, if time is inherently subjective or if time irreducibly possesses a subjective element, then such an approach actually presupposes a fatal error from the start. So, ruling out subjetive aspects to time from the start may steer our analyses prematurely.

At this point in my own studies, I see much promise on the subjective side; notably, Kant and Husserl. Both of these philosophers were actually attempting to ground natural science more firmly, so I think that our original instinct, to avoid subjectivism for the sake of a firmer justification, need not be discarded.

Of course, if you prefer to have a discussion about physics and four-dimensionalism, then I'm happy to bow out.

Thanks for the opportunity to say a few words!


I completely agree with your comments there David.
Thanks for your clarification, much appreciated.
Kind regards

Dayalanand  Roy

"Is Time really a dimension?"
This question can be truly answered only after learning what is time in reality. Just as space is nothing, it is only an absence of objects or the place occupied by the objects (that is, we cannot conceive space if there is no object in the universe); similarly Time is nothing,it is only an absence of events between certain events ( we ask how much time elapsed between two events) or the duration of events ( this also means that we cannot conceive Time if there are no events in the universe). Thus one thing is clear-no event means no Time. Time in itself is nothing. Time emerges from events. And anything, that is nothing in itself, cannot have dimensions. The dimension we see associated with time is actually the dimension of events. The concept of dimensionality of time emerges from mostly irreversible events-eg. our aging, our growing kids, our death etc. But we never think of reversible phenomena while thinking of time.Since our dead aunt is not going to become alive again,we say that time is one dimensional. But what shall we say of the water, that has just melted from ice, is frozen back again into ice. Thus, irreversibility or reversibility is the property of events, based on thermodynamic laws, not of time. NOTHINGNESS CANNOT HAVE A DIMENSION.
Dayalanand Roy

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