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Which Eternity?

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Which Eternity?

Rand held her axiom Existence exists to include that the universe as a whole “cannot be created or annihilated, that it cannot come into or go out of existence” (1973, 25).[1] One would naturally suppose Rand was thinking that immunity from creation or annihilation means the universe has existed an endless time in the past and will exist an endless time in the future. Plausible as that picture appears, might the axiom Existence exists not strictly entail the endless duration of Existence? Might it entail only that at no time was there nothing at all or that at no time was there no time, yet not also entail that the duration of the existence of Existence extends into a past that is infinite?[2] Might the boundary of the past be finite, and at the first, the universe have its present mass-energy (as in classical GR back to the Initial Singularity) and be passing time, yet since it was the first of time, there be no "before" that first, and it simply not be sensible to talk of a "becoming" from a "before" the first?

In our philosophical reflection, should we prejudge the physics of whether the universe of mass-energy and its spacetime extend into an infinite or only a finite past? Should that issue be left to scientific cosmology to settle? Nearby issues such as whether time, space, or spacetime in any way have causal powers and whether there are more primitive physical elements from which spacetime arises should not be prejudged by philosophy, I say. Rather, those issues should be left open for scientific cosmology to settle. I think, however, that philosophy can and should go beyond observing that there was no time and will be no time at which there was nothing, go on to the conclusion that Existence is eternal, meaning endless in past and future.

If no Existence at all, then no character-identity at all. Had Existence come into existence, it would have to do so in a specific way, yet that way would be some character-identity, which requires some existents and is an existent, and by hypothesis there were no existents. Coming to be without a way, as Parmenides realized, is nothing.[3] Moreover: Coming to be is itself an existent. Coming to be of the all that is Existence would be coming to be of any coming-to-be at all. That cannot be sensible unless there were some background existence lacking any coming-to-be. But by hypothesis there was no existent of any sort—thence no existent lacking coming-to-be—before the coming into existence of Existence.[4] Therefore, Existence has no beginning. Then too, absent power of coming-to-be of its entire self, Existence cannot come to be not. That is, Existence has no end. 

Rand did not accept the idea that the universe as a whole is in time. She thought that time was one of those things applying to things within the universe but not on up to the entire universe itself. One might sensibly say, in Rand’s view: Existence, the entirety of all existents, is eternal in the sense that it is outside of time, but not in the sense that it exists endlessly.[5] That is erroneous. As my life advanced in time, so did the Milky Way advance in time, Andromeda too and on up to the whole universe. That is how our modern physics has it also. The universe has a certain age since such-and-such event, most importantly, since the event of the Initial Singularity (or Planck-scale of the spacetime around that classically projected event). Existence as a whole endures through definite time, and that is not to say that time or alteration can exist without other sorts of existents.

Notes

[1] Cf. Aristotle, Cael. 279b4–84b5; Broadie 2009; Sorabji 1983, 205–9, 245–49.

[2] Cf. Lennox 1985, 68.

[3] “What coming to be of it will you seek? / In what way, whence, did [it] grow? Neither from what-is-not shall I allow / You to say or think; for it is not to be said or thought / That [it] is not. And what need could have impelled it to grow / Later or sooner, if it began from nothing?” Gallop 1984, Fragment 8, lines 6–10.

[4] Matter is mass-energy having nonzero rest mass. Only matter and its changes can be a clock. Were the universe to contain no matter, only pure energy, there would be nothing registering the advance of time. So far as I know from modern physics, time would yet advance while a pure-, all-energy of the universe and its changes (say, internal propagations at vacuum light speed) existed. A universe purely energy, of course, would be an existent.

The current picture from scientific cosmology is that the quantity of mass-energy in the universe today is the same there has been all the way back to the Initial Singularity. Particles of ordinary matter, the neutrinos (they have nonzero rest mass), emerged after the first ten-thousandths of a second following the onset of expansion of the universe from the Initial Singularity. Dark matter, having rest mass, may have been present before the neutrinos. I gather that at the present state of scientific knowledge the remote future (years from now about 10 to the 100th power, whereas the present day is only about 10 to the 9th power from the Initial Singularity) of our ever-expanding universe will contain only or very nearly only massless particles such as photons and gravitons (Penrose 2011, 139–49).

[5] Branden 1962; c. 1968, 82­–83, 101–2; Rand 1990 App. 273; Binswanger 2014, 26. Cf. Peikoff 1991, 16; Gotthelf 2000, 48.

References

Anagnostopoulos, G., editor, 2009. A Companion to Aristotle. Chichester: Wiley-Blackwell.

Aristotle c.348–322. B.C. The Complete Works of Aristotle. J. Barnes, editor (1984). Princeton: Princeton University Press.

Branden, N. 1962. The “First Cause” Argument. The Objectivist Newsletter 1(5):19.

——. c.1968. The Basic Principles of Objectivism. In The Vision of Ayn Rand 2009. Gilbert: Cobden Press.

Binswanger, H. 2014. How We Know. New York: TOF Publications.

Broadie, S. 2009. Heavenly Bodies and First Causes. In Anagnostopoulous 2009.

Gallop, D. 1984. Parmenides of Elea – Fragments. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.

Gotthelf, A., editor, 1985. Aristotle on Nature and Living Things. Pittsburgh: Mathesis.

Gotthelf, A. 2000. On Ayn Rand. Belmont: Wadsworth.

Lennox, J. G. 1985. Are Aristotelian Species Eternal? In Gotthelf 1985.

Peikoff, L. 1991. Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand. New York: Dutton.

Penrose, R. 2011. Cycles of Time. New York: Knopf.

Rand, A. 1973. The Metaphysical versus the Man-Made. In Philosophy: Who Needs It. New York: Signet.

——1990. Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology. Expanded 2nd ed. H. Binswanger and L. Peikoff, editors. New York: Meridian.

Sorabji, R. 1983. Time, Creation, and the Continuum. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.

Edited by Boydstun

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11 hours ago, Boydstun said:

Existence as a whole endures through definite time, and that is not to say that time or alteration can exist without other sorts of existents.

I'm going to write a response to this thread as there are parts that I agree with it and others that I don't. Just wanted to note for now that the last clause isn't true if all "other sorts of existents" are the product of the ever changing geometry of spacetime at the Plank scale. Also, there was no "Initial Singularity" nor is any singularity possible ever, anywhere.

A hint towards what I mean until I take the time to write it all up is that it's no coincidence that GR predicts a singularity prior to The Hot Big Bang and at the center of Black Hole; nor that our "Universe" and BH's both have event horizon's. There's a very related reason that the AdS-CFT correspondence shows via the Holographic Principle that QFT on the boundary of AdS spacetime corresponds to GR in the bulk.

Edited by EC

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On ‎1‎/‎20‎/‎2019 at 8:57 AM, Boydstun said:

and it simply not be sensible to talk of a "becoming" from a "before" the first?

Yes, that would invoke time where one argues it is absent: "becoming" presupposes change which is time.

If there was a "first" and no before, that implies no change into "first" from anything... but this starts to sound like "first" always was... (not even caused by the causeless since cause is becoming is time)... is there a problem if time is relative, and a measure of change of things that are... the no change and no time are a sort of eternity... but it is only an asymptote towards no change (but never reaching it) is in a sense both endless and finite...  (no change would literally mean no time... so an infinity of no change is no time at all...)

I think the problem is trying to think of time in terms of time...  I wish I could word it better... time cannot form its own definition, and as such it must be defined with reference to other things that do not remain the same... and the measure of the non-sameness defines time.

I think in the end time is relative and is defined based on real processes of existents... and measure of time going backward should be with reference to those processes.

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Concerning Rand’s view, I see from posting this little piece on the blog of Irfan Khawaja I’ve caused some unnecessary confusion by my order of presentation. In my first paragraph, only the first sentence was the view of Rand. The rest of her view does not come until the fourth paragraph. She did not follow the natural progression from “no creation or annihilation of all that exists” to “the totality of existence is endless in time, past or future.” Rather, as in my fourth, final paragraph, Rand simply denied that time is something that could apply to existence as a whole.

The first presentation of her view in print, so far as I know, was in that 1962 article by Nathaniel Branden. He was also presenting that view---time is inapplicable to existence as a whole---in his lecture series The Basic Principles of Objectivism. He brings up the issue in offering a rebuttal of the First Cause argument for the existence of God in the ex nihilo Creation context, that context being commonplace in the culture. Branden and subsequent Objectivist expositors of Rand’s position continued to address the question of the finite or infinite extent of time through which the universe exists (the universe being what they meant by all that exists, including mind as part of the universe) as affiliated with the idea of an external cause of the existence of the universe. In their Objectivist view, the whole did not require and could not have a cause, the idea of cause is inapplicable to this ultimate whole, and the idea of time is also inapplicable to this whole. They would say (Peikoff in his 1976 lecture series The Philosophy of Objectivism) that it is sensible to say that the whole of existence is eternal if meaning by that that whole is outside of time, but not sensible to say it is eternal in the sense of existing through time without end or beginning. Being outside of time, of course, would also mean that the whole of existence could not have a beginning or end in time.

These proponents of Objectivism were like Ayn Rand in their education. They were thinking about these issues in the history of classical philosophy, such as the history set out in the Sorabji book I cited. That really won’t suffice. It was not until the 1960’s, if I recall correctly, that the idea of black holes (infinitely dense but finite mass) and an Initial Singularity took hold in physics. Black holes are singularities too. When physicists come to implications of physical infinities from the mathematical devices that are otherwise successful in describing physical realities, they look for things that prevent such infinities in physical reality. The infinities had been in the mathematical equations for spacetime implicit in Einstein’s field equations for general relativity (1916), but for a few decades, if I’m recalling the history of black-hole theory correctly, it was held that a specific physical factor would prevent gravitational collapse of matter and energy into the spacetime singularity we now call a black hole. But by the 1960’s physicists had shown that the preventing factor did not prevent after all, and theory of black holes and of a Big Bang singularity were off and running. And with enough decades and expense since then, the tests and spectacular accuracy of Einstein’s GR have been in our headlines.

Physics and me with it certainly reject the idea that the universe as a whole is outside of time. The time being marked by the coo coo clock behind me and the time being marked in the corner of my computer screen, is the time there is and the only time there is (contra Heidegger). It is physically real pure-time slices on the physically real local spacetime. Following the GR equations for the universe as a whole back in time, all of spacetime was a point with absolutely zero extent. Time appears in that picture to come into existence at the Big Bang, and it comes into existence with mass-energy afoot and having the same amount of mass-energy as there is in the universe today. But physics has had, since facing up to that startling picture, a new intervening factor for that Initial Singularity, though only down at the so called Planck scale of spacetime (one over ten to the 35th power, as I recall), a tremendously small smallness about that projected absolute initial point inferred from the classical GR equations: quantum field theory yet needing to be fathomed in that situation. So they say the quest of physics for what happens way-close-about the Initial Singularity is not yet done.

My new thought, explored in my post, is that I’ll go ahead and argue, as I did, from the philosopher’s chair, that ‘final physics’ will find the mass-energy (ever some nonzero amount) of the universe has existed forever and will exist forever.

I’m looking forward to the further remarks from Eric on this topic, with his physics background. And I appreciate any thoughts on this on very general philosophical grounds as well.

SL, your conception of the necessary attachment of time to processes is in tune with modern physics so far as I know. The overly poetic presentation of the modern-physics standpoint in Carlo Rovelli’s The Order of Time (2018) may dispute that, it seems to contain a lot of talk-pedestrian exaggeration, but I’ve not gotten to really study this little book yet. Concerning language about time, I’m studying at this time, the book by Olley Pearson Rationality, Time, and Self (2018), which includes assimilation of tense logic. I might be able to parlay some of this later for this thread.

I’d be careful not to slip from thinking of time as being relational to processes and alterations to thinking of the temporal relation as being only something from our constitution for perception and intellectual understanding, for making the world orderly and intelligible for us. Kant made that subject-side move, and Leibniz took relations to require mind. Wrong and wrong. Time is physical, even if relational. We measure it, our bodies register it, and there’s all too little of it.

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1 hour ago, Boydstun said:

Time appears in that picture to come into existence at the Big Bang, and it comes into existence with mass-energy afoot and having the same amount of mass-energy as there is in the universe today

Which is why that picture is somewhat askew... most scientists say it but do not fully understand what they mean by "Time.. comes into existence"  From what, from where and from when?

1 hour ago, Boydstun said:

My new thought, explored in my post, is that I’ll go ahead and argue, as I did, from the philosopher’s chair, that ‘final physics’ will find the mass-energy (ever some nonzero amount) of the universe has existed forever and will exist forever.

Given conservation laws this is a perfectly rational conclusion/prediction which is to be commended.

1 hour ago, Boydstun said:

I’m looking forward to the further remarks from Eric on this topic, with his physics background. And I appreciate any thoughts on this on very general philosophical grounds as well.

I have a Masters degree in theoretical particle physics... critical philosophical thought is not something which was encouraged in University... imagination and freedom to play and conjecture with math were however very much encouraged... uncritical extrapolations of QM were also very popular... "QM tells us there is a finite possibility (although incredibly small) that a basketball could tunnel through a brick wall"   I was never happy with all the handwaving and the absence of any concrete proofs for such an assertion... which assertion completely ignores the nature and structure of basket balls and brick walls.

 

2 hours ago, Boydstun said:

I’d be careful not to slip from thinking of time as being relational to processes and alterations to thinking of the temporal relation as being only something from our constitution for perception and intellectual understanding, for making the world orderly and intelligible for us. Kant made that subject-side move, and Leibniz took relations to require mind. Wrong and wrong. Time is physical, even if relational. We measure it, our bodies register it, and there’s all too little of it.

Agreed.  Certainly thinking of time as consciously subjective rather than objective and possibly relative, would be a mistake.  I do wonder about reification of time as a thing, as an ever present Cartesian background, even locally, is simply wrong.  The oscillating neutrino or the decaying muon is not a boat on a river, whose flow is independent of and dictates the motion of the boat... there is only the neutrino or the muon an fact that it changes... now we also see that those changes are relative to each other... fewer muons in motion decay compared to the number of muons which are stationary (relative to our reference frame)... we can see and measure relative time... but is there a river flowing past the muons at different rates?  Such a concept is both superfluous, and a logical fallacy (something akin to begging the question or concept stealing... the river flowing metaphor has as it's referent a thing, namely water, which is in motion over time, and thus is ill suited to represent any explanation of time itself) 

The fact that things change IS time... time does however have magnitude and is relational because we can compare processes under different relative conditions... but just as there is no ether (absolute space) there is no "time-ether" either.

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On 1/20/2019 at 8:57 AM, Boydstun said:

One might sensibly say, in Rand’s view: Existence, the entirety of all existents, is eternal in the sense that it is outside of time, but not in the sense that it exists endlessly.[5] That is erroneous.

Is not the view actually put in the positive sense, that it is claimed time is only inside the universe?  Time is an attribute of what exists.  Outside of the whole of existence there is nothing.  Nothing can have no attributes.  Nothing can be claimed about what is not-existence.

All of that is merely laying out foundations of straight thinking in metaphysics to rule out some mysticism.   I would not read Rand as making wild claims about the ultimate fate of the universe, whether it exists endlessly or not or in what form.

 

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I'll just state without the requisite proofs or citations, (I was going to originally reply with citations and everything the OP had, but don't really have the time, lol ) that I think it's likely that our "universe" (scare quotes, because that should apply to all that exists not the sliver we are confined to of the observable universe) is the result of a blackhole forming in a "another universe" and every blackhole in ours produces another "universe", and so on both ways. Blackholes all the way down. This also produces actual physical explanations for things supposedly without explanations currently. 

It makes no sense to claim for instance that our observable universe "popped" into existence nowhere and is expanding into nothing like currently claimed. But a blackhole containing "our universe" coming into existence in a pre-existing larger universe makes actually makes physical sense without requiring mental gymnastics. If you accept this paradigm something like Dark Energy immediately has a physical meaning, the Dark Energy that is currently causing the accelerated expansion of our "universe" would be the result of the inflow of gas and expansion of the blackhole in which "our universe" resides. Another presumed occurrence, eternal inflation with supposedly "different universe's popping into existence and again supposedly creating their own spacetime while supposedly expanding into a zero" also makes actual physical sense with this paradigm, when you consider that nothing strange is actually happening. New blackholes are simply created in pre-existing "universes" and what separates an "old universe" from a "new universe" (actually all just parts of an entire true universe) is the event horizon of the newly formed blackhole.

These event horizons are incredibly important. Superstring theories posit many extra-dimensions for instance that seem as unreal (especially to an Objectivist) as a universe supposedly popping ex-nihilo out of nothing, for no reason, then expanding into this supposed nothingness. But the event horizons provide a "border" between "two universes", two 4 dimensional spacetimes that actively interact with one another (hey we suddenly have 8 interacting dimensions of spacetime) and another 2 from the event horizon sphere wrapping the internal spacetime. Hey, we're up to ten purely physical degrees of freedom now. Anyway, I could go on, but this is a good introduction for now anyway.

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.

Thanks for the further info and reflections, SL. I agree we should not go with the Newtonian type of view of time as flowing by on its own, independently of activities of matter (and energy). Newton thought of space that independent way too, and space he took as coeternal with God, not as something created by God. (The distinctions of various kinds of eternity did not begin with Objectivists, viz., with Leonard Peikoff in that lecture Q&A.) I don’t recall if Newton conformed to the standard theology that time was created by God when God created the world. (I know Newton had some nonstandard “Christian” views. Jesus was not the son of God. One biographer quipped: “God did not need more than one son.”)

Hi Grames,

Rand was indeed focused on a minimum claim, which comes up in refuting the fairly standard mystical view that there is a being, namely God, who is unchanging and who created the world and time from nothing and who is not Itself in time. In the course of her argument against such a First Cause of the all that is existence, Rand held forth Existence as a whole as being outside of time. So there can be no rational talk on her view of whether the universe has always existed or only for a finite time. Both are ruled out by the fact that time simply does not apply to the whole of existence at all.

Her later expositers try to paint hers as a rather non-constraining position within which scientific cosmology (which mostly has built up since she was living) could rationally go wherever the experimentally successful and observationally successful modeling of the universe may go. That is incorrect. Her position rules out rational consideration of whether the universe has existed forever and whether it will exist forever into the future.

Here are some of the statements she made or approved:

NB – “The concept of time applies to events and entities within the universe, but not to the universe as a whole.” (1962)

AR – “We can’t ascribe space or time or a lot of other things to the universe as a whole.” (1969/1970)

Edited by Boydstun

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31 minutes ago, Boydstun said:

Her position rules out rational consideration of whether the universe has existed forever and whether it will exist forever into the future

Does it "rule it out" or strictly define what one means (could possibly mean?) by such things as "exist(ed)" and "forever" (and "future")?

I have a great deal of respect for many scientists who instinctively rely on a form of Rand's razor ("Concepts are not to be multiplied beyond necessity"), but I have encountered so many who completely ignore it or have no such internal regulator.

Edited by StrictlyLogical

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A few predictions from what I talked about above. T-Duality predicts the event horizon of our local universe from any given point in local spacetime will be 1/Plank length. Supersymmetry is unbroken at the event horizon but broken on either side of it. Either spacetime "side" will appear curled to the other side with a radius of the Plank length; which is why the AdS/CFT correspondence describes an anti-de Sitter space rather than our "universe's" de Sitter space. Besides the supersymmetric particles, no particle of "Dark Matter" will ever be discovered because Dark Matter is not a particle; it's the aggregate tension of a critical amount of mass interacting at the separating event horizon; the string-tension itself displayed at the galactic level via the AdS/CFT correspondence.

Edited by EC

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2 hours ago, Boydstun said:

AR – “We can’t ascribe space or time or a lot of other things to the universe as a whole.” (1969/1970)

Yes, but why? The concept of the "multiverse", or the true concept of all that exists--the universe, is the process where the universe does everything that is physically possible, including the exact inverse of every given possible process such that the entire whole effectively cancels the entire energy out. It's of this this whole, which is far beyond what a naive interpretation of Rand's Razor says is possible that this describes and makes logical sense. It's only in that light that the concept of a dimensionless universe where concepts of space and time don't apply is possible. Everything that is physically permitted happens in the multiverse (actual universe) such that the product of the energy density of all possible possibilities equals exactly zero. This is NOT Reification of Zero, it's the process that allow physical reality to exist with a slight positive energy. Existence exists, but there has to be a reason why it does; it's not sufficient to just state that it does. Existence must exist for a reason.

Edited by EC

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2 hours ago, EC said:

Existence exists, but there has to be a reason why it does; it's not sufficient to just state that it does. Existence must exist for a reason.

It was in the Analytic-Synthetic Dichotomy to be found:

The climax of the "miraculous" view of existence is represented by those existentialists who echo Heidegger, demanding: "Why is there any being at all and not rather nothing?"—i.e., why does existence exist? This is the projection of a zero as an alternative to existence, with the demand that one explain why existence exists and not the zero.

Granted the claim of the "miraculous" view is not stated explicitly in your lines leading up to it, but Heidegger's demand resonates in the cited portion. The denial that it is "NOT Reification of the Zero" brushes aside just 'what' is the alternative to existence.

 

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11 hours ago, dream_weaver said:

It was in the Analytic-Synthetic Dichotomy to be found:

The climax of the "miraculous" view of existence is represented by those existentialists who echo Heidegger, demanding: "Why is there any being at all and not rather nothing?"—i.e., why does existence exist? This is the projection of a zero as an alternative to existence, with the demand that one explain why existence exists and not the zero.

Granted the claim of the "miraculous" view is not stated explicitly in your lines leading up to it, but Heidegger's demand resonates in the cited portion. The denial that it is "NOT Reification of the Zero" brushes aside just 'what' is the alternative to existence.

 

 

Upon confronting it, some find the FACT, that there simply is no unbelievable mystery, TO BE the greatest unbelievable mystery of all.

Edited by StrictlyLogical

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18 hours ago, EC said:

I'll just state without the requisite proofs or citations, (I was going to originally reply with citations and everything the OP had, but don't really have the time, lol ) that I think it's likely that our "universe" (scare quotes, because that should apply to all that exists not the sliver we are confined to of the observable universe) is the result of a blackhole forming in a "another universe" and every blackhole in ours produces another "universe", and so on both ways. Blackholes all the way down. This also produces actual physical explanations for things supposedly without explanations currently. 

I'm familiar with this theory, in the fashion in which a layman can claim familiarity.   How does Hawking radiation fit into this?  And since actual black holes can have both matter and energy inflows and outflows, and further that the size of a black hole (event horizon radius) depends on its mass,  what does that mean for conservation laws?

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16 hours ago, EC said:

Yes, but why? The concept of the "multiverse", or the true concept of all that exists--the universe, is the process where the universe does everything that is physically possible, including the exact inverse of every given possible process such that the entire whole effectively cancels the entire energy out. It's of this this whole, which is far beyond what a naive interpretation of Rand's Razor says is possible that this describes and makes logical sense. It's only in that light that the concept of a dimensionless universe where concepts of space and time don't apply is possible. Everything that is physically permitted happens in the multiverse (actual universe) such that the product of the energy density of all possible possibilities equals exactly zero. This is NOT Reification of Zero, it's the process that allow physical reality to exist with a slight positive energy. Existence exists, but there has to be a reason why it does; it's not sufficient to just state that it does. Existence must exist for a reason.

At the end there, did you just backslide into using 'Existence' to refer to only the observable universe?  Because that's the only way this makes sense to me.

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18 hours ago, EC said:

It makes no sense to claim for instance that our observable universe ... is expanding into nothing like currently claimed.

Is that the claim?  Does the claim require a nothing or a something for the observable universe to expand into?  Or is the claim simply that the observable universe is getting bigger?

As I understand it, the observable universe is not supposed to have a boundary and its expansion consists not of acquiring more space or of any sort of moving "into", but rather of existing space stretching out.

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3 minutes ago, Doug Morris said:

Is that the claim?  Does the claim require a nothing or a something for the observable universe to expand into?  Or is the claim simply that the observable universe is getting bigger?

As I understand it, the observable universe is not supposed to have a boundary and its expansion consists not of acquiring more space or of any sort of moving "into", but rather of existing space stretching out.

This is also my understanding, the expansion is actually an entirely internal relation of parts of the observable universe to other parts.

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19 hours ago, Boydstun said:

Hi Grames,

Rand was indeed focused on a minimum claim, which comes up in refuting the fairly standard mystical view that there is a being, namely God, who is unchanging and who created the world and time from nothing and who is not Itself in time. In the course of her argument against such a First Cause of the all that is existence, Rand held forth Existence as a whole as being outside of time. So there can be no rational talk on her view of whether the universe has always existed or only for a finite time. Both are ruled out by the fact that time simply does not apply to the whole of existence at all.

Her later expositers try to paint hers as a rather non-constraining position within which scientific cosmology (which mostly has built up since she was living) could rationally go wherever the experimentally successful and observationally successful modeling of the universe may go. That is incorrect. Her position rules out rational consideration of whether the universe has existed forever and whether it will exist forever into the future.

Here are some of the statements she made or approved:

NB – “The concept of time applies to events and entities within the universe, but not to the universe as a whole. (1962)

AR – “We can’t ascribe space or time or a lot of other things to the universe as a whole.” (1969/1970)

To clear up some potential points of confusion for this post and hopefully others in the thread, I will take Rand's use of the capitalized word Existence as referring to the entirety of what exists, known and unknown, knowable or unknowable and synonymous with the expansive version of Universe.  I avoid using "multiverse" and refer to the limited subset of Existence which forms our experience as "the observable Universe".  Some theories posit multiple alternate observable universes, albeit they would not be observable by us here.  I've also read pieces that used "bubbles" or "local bubbles" to refer to those alternate observable universes, and an entirely different word is good for preventing confusion generated by too many 'verses being flung about.

So the first question I have for you Boydstun, is what did you take as Rand's referent for Existence?   And next, what scope do you ultimately want to address, the observable universe ("our bubble") or the full Universe?  

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Grames,

I too capitalize the term existence to indicate I'm referring to the entirety of existents. When referring to the existence of this or that, of course, it's lower case. My full convention, which I call out in my book, is this: I use lower case when talking about existence in general or existence per se or existence as such. I use Existence to refer to existence as such at the whole of it. 

I use Existence, as did Rand also, to mean the totality of existents, and like Rand, the Universe. I mean the full Universe, regardless of whether its particulars are fairly directly observable (the light of this computer screen) or not so directly (such as the mass of the earth exactly three billion years ago is detectible fairly). There is much in the past I count as part of Existence, though it is not observable at all by now, such as the weight to the nearest ounce of each of my 32 great-great-great grand parents at the time of their very last heartbeat. Then too, and this also is merely in the classical regime, which day will be the day of my death cannot presently be determinately computed because that reality in the future is not yet a determinate reality---siding here with Peirce and Aristotle, contra Rand and Leibniz. Future indeterminates are also part of Existence.

Edited by Boydstun

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6 hours ago, Boydstun said:

en too, and this also is merely in the classical regime, which day will be the day of my death cannot presently be determinately computed because that reality in the future is not yet a determinate reality---siding here with Peirce and Aristotle, contra Rand and Leibniz. Future indeterminates are also part of Existence.

Speaking for myself, I do not regard the past or the future as part of Existence.  All that ever exists anywhere and everywhere is the present.  (Local space-time curvature differs from place to place so it is not the same present everywhere, and vast distances create additional obstacles to measuring the relative timing of distant events.)  Thus even if the day of one's future death could be computed it would not be real nor counted as part of Existence until it happened.  Then that day and the deceased would pass out of Existence together as both then belong to the past.  Another way to express my thought is that neither the past nor the future is a location in space-time. In summary, neither future determinates nor future indeterminates are a part of Existence.

Did Rand claim future determinates were part of Existence and if so can you point out where?  And what were Peirce and Aristotle up to when considering this aspect of ontology?  Aristotle was against determinism but if the future in any sense already exists this would seem to contradict that stance by implication?  

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Grames, it's a fact that from now all the way to tomorrow there will be photons. You seem to confine Existence to only the present. Only to actualities in the present? What about potentials of the present actualities? Would you count them as part of Existence? Rand did count those potentials as part of Existence, though she did not write about it (ITOE Appendix). Aristotle thought it true now that a sea battle either will happen tomorrow or not happen tomorrow. That disjunction would be a fact now about tomorrow. I don't know if he would count all facts as part of what we are calling Existence, though I don't think he was confining Existence to present actualities. How do you conceive present traces and indicators of the past, such as the rings of a tree trunk? Surely they are indicators of part of Existence, indeed past actualities.

Edited by Boydstun

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3 hours ago, Boydstun said:

Grames, it's a fact that from now all the way to tomorrow there will be photons. You seem to confine Existence to only the present. Only to actualities in the present? What about potentials of the present actualities? Would you count them as part of Existence? Rand did count those potentials as part of Existence, though she did not write about it (ITOE Appendix). Aristotle thought it true now that a sea battle either will happen tomorrow or not happen tomorrow. That disjunction would be a fact now about tomorrow. I don't know if he would count all facts as part of what we are calling Existence, though I don't think he was confining Existence to present actualities. How do you conceive present traces and indicators of the past, such as the rings of a tree trunk? Surely they are indicators of part of Existence, indeed past actualities.

Sorry to interject, and I cannot speak for Grames,  but everything which exists, exists now.  That does not in any way detract from the fact that things existed "in the past" or that things (or states or configurations of things) will exist "in the future".  I know it sounds like a semantic game, but it is not.  The fact that we can remember and/or deduce the past from the present, or predict (to varying rates of success) future events from the present, does not serve enough to "equate" the fundamentally different categories of NOW versus "PAST" and "FUTURE". [ I do understand there is some nuance involved in talking about the fundamental differences without invoking the ancient fallacies that "change requires destruction and creation" (or there can be no change?) or "you cant stand in the same river twice"]

So what is the status of traces of the "past"?  Whether rings of a tree, or photographic remains from the 19th century, or actual memories in our brains, there exist states and configurations of things as they exist now, which are a result of causation which occurred in the "past" and involved existents as they were in the "past".  But the existents are no longer as they were in the "past"... forms, chemicals, arrangements of matter change... although some preservation of states (or a clear connection of present states to those of the past) is necessary to deduce the past (chemicals in a photographic plate which have preserved their states which were caused by interaction with light at the moment the photograph was taken)   [Aside: I accept the oddness that since time is always in motion, even the act of recalling the distant past involves processes which themselves involve time... to see an image of my childhood home, my visual cortex and associated systems are provided with something which has been stored for years, but the experience I have of seeing it in my mind, is already milliseconds old.. since the time of recall to the time of "display/experience" is not instantaneous....] 

In that sense things only ARE, but we see from what they ARE what they (or perhaps what other things) WERE.

What about the status of the "future"?  The "future" IS not, but it WILL be.  What it will be is inexorably through causality linked to all that is now, so we have the luxury of being somewhat able to predict and project, what to expect existence to be in future, by thinking about it.  That a ball will arc through the air into your baseball glove according to a parabola, and you can place yourself to catch it is a wonderful thing.  But "time" is simply a measure of the changes in the things which exist... it is not that there is a ball and time and you somehow have figured out the relationship between the two, there is, was and only ever will be the ball.  The FACT is that the ball, its attributes (position momentum weight size) and its arrangement in relation to the Earth its nature and the fact of gravity, all mean that there will be a causal chain of events which is not random.  The facts of things that ARE do exist, and they will affect the future, but those facts of things as they are now, exist now.

Again in that sense, things only ARE, but we can see from what they ARE what they MIGHT (or WILL) be.

 

Although we can remember the "past" and predict the "future", although the "past" affected the present and the present will affect the "future", there IS only NOW.  Moreover, since time is merely the fact that THINGS change, and "time" is not a thing in itself, there literally is no PAST or FUTURE.  They do not EXIST now...  All we should mean when we refer to various "points" in time are the THINGS as THEY WERE (or WILL BE) AT those times.  Referring to a disjointed floating time is technically meaningless.  There is no December 2, 2020 as such, but we CAN speak of THINGS AS THEY WILL BE on December 2, 2020.

It's the same as the concept "number", one is no more correct to refer to a disembodied "past" or "future" (rather than referring to the past states of things or the future states of things) than to refer to "six" absent specifying six "what"? [As in "I saw Six running in the lobby today" ... "Six?  You saw Six what running in the lobby?" ... "No just Six, I saw it running in the lobby" ... "Incredible... utterly fantastic numbers are not things... there are only numbers of things (and by measurement omission ... numbers of "anythings")]

 

For clarity, I do not think you are wrong to see the "past" and the "future" in things that ARE, but the notions "past" and "future" can only ever mean what things were and what things will be, and the act of seeing those "in the things that are" is merely an identification of identity and causality as the prime "movers" of "change", not an identification of a literal past or future "in" the present.

Edited by StrictlyLogical

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.

SL, our quickest perceptions of objects or events is one or two hundred milliseconds in duration. We have some quicker processes of perceptual discriminations occurring (requiring) only about ten milliseconds. There is nothing physically significant in the demarcation of past and future existence about those particular intervals of “the present” of our experience. In our “instant” of perceptual consciousness (or of any consciousness) of a physical object, there are atomic transitions taking place in the object down at the level of 10-to-the-minus-18 seconds and nuclear transitions taking place in those atoms down at the level of 10-to-the-minus-23 seconds. In an instant of observation is an ocean of objective time.

Transitions, actions, and processes are part of existence. They are existents, and the entities to which they pertain are existents. An episode of alterations is part of existence no matter the rate of its transition or epoch of its occurrence. I'd not confine existence or Existence to a particular point or particular limited interval in its duration. No dividing line of past and future existents should be treated as containing all that exists. And if we say only that that dividing line is all that exists at that dividing time, that's true, but it does not preclude existence at all times being included in the all that is Existence.

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