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The Specious Present


Guest Davka
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So Hilbert thinks he's got something with his hotel paradox, huh? Well, the Specious Present paradox goes him one better: it's a proof for Universal Nihilism!

 

Nihilism is the view that nothing exists. There are different kinds of nihilism; one can be a moral nihilist, for instance, holding that morality does not exist, or a religious nihilist, holding that God does not exist. The problem of the specious present supports a universal nihilism, the view that nothing whatsoever exists.

 

In order for something to exist it must have duration, it must exist for a certain amount of time. To say that something exists for no time at all, that at the very moment that it comes into existence it also passes out of it, is to say that it doesn’t exist at all. Unicorns exist for no time at all; so do square circles. Things that exist for no time at all don’t exist. In order for something to exist it must have duration.

 

The past and the future do not exist; they are not there, in the world. Perhaps the past once existed, and perhaps its effects can still be seen in the world today, but the past doesn’t exist now; if it exists now, then where is it? And perhaps the future will exist one day, but it doesn’t exist yet; again, if it exists now, then where is it? The past and the future clearly do not exist; the universe consists only of the gap between them, the present.

 

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I think this is a funny bit of reasoning, but it doesn’t seem to me like a very useful philosophy.

 

One of the problems with it, as I see it, is that we cannot doubt the existence of our selves without contradiction. For who is there to do the doubting?

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I think this is a funny bit of reasoning, but it doesn’t seem to me like a very useful philosophy.

 

One of the problems with it, as I see it, is that we cannot doubt the existence of our selves without contradiction. For who is there to do the doubting?

Hello Descartes! :HaHa:

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I think this is a funny bit of reasoning, but it doesn’t seem to me like a very useful philosophy.

 

One of the problems with it, as I see it, is that we cannot doubt the existence of our selves without contradiction. For who is there to do the doubting?

Everyone knows that philosophers will prostitute themselves just to make a point - and now you come along, putting Descartes before the whores?

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:HaHa: Yeah well, I think Descartes found a wonderful thing there, a solid truth from which we can soundly move on to other truths.
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Good 'ol philosophy!

 

But does science really back this up (especially when it comes to some of the higher physics stuff)? It's been awhile since I was in a science class, so I don't honestly remember...

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Good 'ol philosophy!

 

But does science really back this up (especially when it comes to some of the higher physics stuff)? It's been awhile since I was in a science class, so I don't honestly remember...

 

Science does seem to support the idea that linear time is an illusion. And mathematics will tell you that the present has no duration. So the answer is - sorta. But remember, mathematics can also be used to prove that it is impossible to cross the street.

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Well I know about the whole time thing about time, but aren't there particles that as far as we know anyways, don't "disappear" over time? Or am I remembering wrong?

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Well I know about the whole time thing about time, but aren't there particles that as far as we know anyways, don't "disappear" over time? Or am I remembering wrong?

I'm not sure about that. I think they actually go in and out of existence. Particles are "swirls" of energy, and eventually (if one of the theories are right), the universe will eventually erode and even the particles break up into pure energy. (IIRC)

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I have come to suspect that we do not really understand time very well at all. So if we reason from a misunderstanding of it then our conclusions will likely be mistaken. That’s what I think is going on with the argument presented in the OP.

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LR,

 

I totally agree.

 

Here we are, finite beings, living for a few years, having to study for years and years and yet never fully understand a fraction of the things we do have books and knowledge--as humanity--about, trying to understand the infinite and the universe. Talk about hubris.

 

I keep on coming back to the idea of the box. We are, as humanity, stuck inside a box. We can figure out that there most likely is an outside to the box, but we can never get there. And yet, a bunch of lunatics use arguments to convince everyone else that the outside surface of the box happens to be navy blue, with a couple of orange and green stripes.

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I have come to suspect that we do not really understand time very well at all. So if we reason from a misunderstanding of it then our conclusions will likely be mistaken. That’s what I think is going on with the argument presented in the OP.

 

 

I'm not sure we ever will be able to really understand time very well. I remember an interesting analogy I read years ago: Imagine a paralyzed person, strapped to a railway flatbed car face down. There's a hole drilled in the car that he can see through with one eye. Someone has placed a tube at the bottom of the hole that extends nearly to the ground, so that the only thing this person can see is a tiny bit of track directly beneath his position.

 

The car is moving forward, and has been as long as this person can remember. He knows that there is more than the bit of track he can see, because he remembers different bits of track. From this he extrapolates that there must be more track yet to come. And from this, he is trying to build an accurate picture of the railroad track, the train, and the surrounding countryside.

 

This is the nature of the "box" that Hans described. We're trying to guess what color is on the outside, and we don't even know what shape the damned thing is!

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This is the nature of the "box" that Hans described. We're trying to guess what color is on the outside, and we don't even know what shape the damned thing is!

It's a box, damit! Hence, it's a cube. :Doh:

 

 

:HaHa:

 

That reminds me of the "God is male" discussions. "The Bible says 'he,' so God must be male."

 

 

Btw, doesn't the Bible strongly suggest that God has existed from eternal (infinite) past? If William Craig is right and infinite past cannot exist, wouldn't the conclusion at least be that the Bible must be wrong, or that the Creator is not the Bible God? And if God planned and knew from eternal past what was going to happen to me, wouldn't that suggest that his thoughts and plans must have had a first cause? Something must have set God on the track, at a starting point. (Thoughts are contingent. Contingency seems to indicate a temporal framework. etc... Hence, God's thoughts must have a First Thought. That's the Big Daddy God. Lets pray to him/her/it instead.)

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:HaHa: Yeah well, I think Descartes found a wonderful thing there, a solid truth from which we can soundly move on to other truths.

Personally, I think Descartes had it backwards. It should be, I am therefore I think. He had the cart before the horse. :) (HA! I just got what Davka said!)

 

Anyway, this could be tied into the notion of beings and things that are made up of self-contained particles of enduring matter. This is the materialist and dualist way of looking at nature. The nondual or process philosophy doesn't see particles as the fundamental entities of the world. They see each enduring (appearance) thing as a process of rapidly occuring series of events. They don't see the atom as timeless but an ordered structure of occasions.

 

This "I am" isn't to be confused with particles and matter, but with energy that remains pretty much the same throughout time. This is what Descartes did with thinking that his "I am-ness" is an enduring existent. He committed the fallacy of misplaced concreteness. Descartes was a dualist.

 

This is a new philosophy to me and I have been posting it all over the board! Don't you just hate it when someone learns something new and that's all they ever talk about? :lmao: I am fascinated by it because it jives with my belief structure.

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I totally agree.

I am encouraged when we agree Hans. I think you are a knowledgeable and intelligent guy. It makes me feel that I am in good company.

 

I'm not sure we ever will be able to really understand time very well.

I am more optimistic than this Davka. I think given the appropriate questions our understanding of time will grow.

 

Descartes was a dualist.

Let me hasten to say NotBlinded that I believe Descartes, as most people, was right about some things and wrong about others. I believe he was absolutely correct when he said, “Cogito ergo sum.” I think every thought, every emotion, every flight of our imagination bears witness to us that we exist. However I do not agree with his dualism. And I think he was mistaken about the machine metaphor, that organisms are machines.

 

By the way, I prefer to say “we are” instead of “I am”. I think the latter contains a bit too much ego. We are. We exist. (Thus I am Legion. :HaHa: )

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Let me hasten to say NotBlinded that I believe Descartes, as most people, was right about some things and wrong about others. I believe he was absolutely correct when he said, “Cogito ergo sum.” I think every thought, every emotion, every flight of our imagination bears witness to us that we exist. However I do not agree with his dualism. And I think he was mistaken about the machine metaphor, that organisms are machines.

 

By the way, I prefer to say “we are” instead of “I am”. I think the latter contains a bit too much ego. We are. We exist. (Thus I am Legion. :HaHa: )

:3:

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As for time, I think part of our misunderstanding stems from the fact that we don't view it as a physical force - but since time is affected by physical forces (ie gravity) then it must have physical properties that we just have yet to learn about - or maybe someone far more intelligent in sciences is already there, but I'm an art major, most of that stuff is beyond me till they put it in layman's terms lol!

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GONZ9729CustomImage1539775.gif Yeah well, I think Descartes found a wonderful thing there, a solid truth from which we can soundly move on to other truths.

Personally, I think Descartes had it backwards. It should be, I am therefore I think. He had the cart before the horse. smile.gif (HA! I just got what Davka said!)

 

Anyway, this could be tied into the notion of beings and things that are made up of self-contained particles of enduring matter. This is the materialist and dualist way of looking at nature. The nondual or process philosophy doesn't see particles as the fundamental entities of the world. They see each enduring (appearance) thing as a process of rapidly occuring series of events. They don't see the atom as timeless but an ordered structure of occasions.

 

This "I am" isn't to be confused with particles and matter, but with energy that remains pretty much the same throughout time. This is what Descartes did with thinking that his "I am-ness" is an enduring existent. He committed the fallacy of misplaced concreteness. Descartes was a dualist.

 

This is a new philosophy to me and I have been posting it all over the board! Don't you just hate it when someone learns something new and that's all they ever talk about? lmao_99.gif I am fascinated by it because it jives with my belief structure.

 

 

Good stuff!

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