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Thoughts on an article on the concept "universe"? by Alex S.

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To posit a "boundary" is to posit a border which divides a thing (or things) from something else. But if there is something on the other side of this 'universal boundary', then IT would necessarily be included in the concept "universe". And if there is NOT something beyond the boundary - ie - nothingness - then you have a violation of the law of identity. In either case, the concept "boundary" violates the laws of logic when applied to the concept universe.

y -

Your post was nothing more than condescending gobldy-gook. Your assertions do not make a thing true. And your violations of the laws of identity and assertions of the primacy of consciousness (combined with appeals to authority and arguments from intimidation) do nothing to change these FUNDAMENTAL facts.

I am not going to pursue this with you further - especially in this thread. I have said my piece about your flawed philosophic basis for the conclusions you (and others) draw. I cannot FORCE you to accept logic. Like the horse, I can only bring you to the stream. It is YOU who have to do the drinking (and right now, you are SEVERLY dehydrated because you reject the need for logic).

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RadCap, believe it or not, I am honestly trying to be rational to the best of my abilities. Perhaps I am not being completely successful, but that is not the same as being intellectually dishonest. I thought I understood Objectivism, but perhaps I do not. And yes, I may have come to Objectivism with subjectivist or libertarian leanings that need to be corrected. If so, I would appreciate explanations, not attacks.

It seems that you accept only 2 kinds of people on this site: "students of Objectivism," who are expected to only ask questions and accept the answers given, and "Objectivists" such as yourself whose every word is to be considered unquestionable. Well, guess what? There are plenty of people just like me who are doing their best to be rational and to understand Objectivism, but are not yet as perfect as you are. Your attitude helps explain why so many people who are sympathetic to Objectivism are so turned off by the Objectivist movement and many actual Objectivists.

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When you state EXPLICITLY that you disagree with objectivism (as opposed to not UNDERSTANDING it), you place yourself in a different catagory than you are now trying to present for yourself. No matter how much you NOW seek to gloss over, blank out, or whitewash such facts, it does not change them nor change your positions. Neither do your attempts to smear or resort to ridicule. They merely adds to the already impressive list of logical fallacies you have employed here.

I am finished with you. Do not address any further correspondence to me. I am now simply awaiting response from the admins as to your dispostion.

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RedCap,

You state that something undefined definitely exists. Is that not a fallacy?

When has the nonexistence of ether been disproven. The Michelson-Morley experiment disproved its existence, but what about its nonexistence?

I labeled your understanding as mysticism, not A is A.

You are right that I have not read all of AR+P. I am only a year into the philosophy.

I don't accept the Primacy of Consciousness philosophy, although apparently you do. Observable fact: there isn't anything in empty space. Your contention: the law of identity says there must be, therefore there is. Doesn't reality come first?!

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When you state EXPLICITLY that you disagree with objectivism (as opposed to not UNDERSTANDING it), you place yourself in a different catagory than you are now trying to present for yourself.  .

For the record and for anyone else who is reading this, I did not say that I disagreed with Objectivism. I said that "I do not 100% agree with everything Rand said and cannot derive her entire philosophy from first principles" Even if I had said that I disagreed with Objectivism, surely one of the functions of this forum is to answer the questions of people who have studied Objectivism but are not completely convinced by it. If a prerequisite of being on this forum is to already be a 100% convinced Objectivist, then perhaps that should be stated on the home page somewhere. I thought this was a place to discuss Objectivist ideas. My mistake. If I want just read the official Objectivist view on an issue, I can get that from OPAR and Rand's works.

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RedCap,

You state that something undefined definitely exists.  Is that not a fallacy?

When has the nonexistence of ether been disproven.  The Michelson-Morley experiment disproved its existence, but what about its nonexistence?

I labeled your understanding as mysticism, not A is A.

You are right that I have not read all of AR+P.  I am only a year into the philosophy.

I don't accept the Primacy of Consciousness philosophy, although apparently you do.  Observable fact: there isn't anything in empty space.  Your contention: the law of identity says there must be, therefore there is.  Doesn't reality come first?!

The Law of Identity is the Law of Reality.

From that last question of yours it is most evident that you do not even have a simple grasp of the Objectivist concept of existence, identity and consciousness.

"Existence is Identity." -- Ayn Rand

An empty space in which absolutely nothing exists is a BLATANT contradiction--a total violation of the two most fundamental laws of reality:

Existence exists. A is A.

It is contradictory to state that "there is nothing in a vacuum," because that is equivalent to the statement "nothing exists in a vacuum," which is equivalent to "nonexistence exists in a vacuum."

Still need me to repeat myself?

There is no nothing; i.e., nonexistence does not exist; i.e., existence exists.

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I've read that article before, and I found it even more interesting the second time around. I still have to digest some of the ideas in it and see if they work out, but there's one thing I'd like to toss up for discussion.

Silverman says that the universe is finite. He also says that in order for something to be finite, it must be finite with respect to something. But he doesn't say what the universe is finite with respect to -- just that it *has* to be finite, since it exists. So what's finite about it? (I'm not in any way implying that the universe is infinite. It's not, that'd be a violation of identity. But Silverman has knocked down a lot of his options...)

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"You state that something undefined definitely exists. Is that not a fallacy?"

I state that something exists, I further state that the thing's nature has yet to be identified. This is not a fallacy. If you believe it to be a fallacy, you need to explain WHAT fallacy it is and HOW it qualifies AS that fallacy.

Furthermore AS I ALREADY POINTED OUT (and you ignored) - logic does NOT require me TO identify the thing or things. ALL I need to do is point out that your claims CONTRADICT the law of identity. After that, I need do NOTHING. The logic ball is ENTIRELY in your court then.

As to the rest, your interpretation of your observations (or lack thereof) is NOT reality. All you have done, like the ancient greek in my analogy, is seen nothing between us and declared it a void. In BOTH instances, that is FAR from reality. And BOTH instances require the REJECTION of the law of identity to make the interpretation of the observations. AGAIN - AS I POINTED OUT (and you ignored) - logic DEMANDS you do ONLY one of two things:

1. PROVE the law of identity is invalid (which AS I STATED ALREADY is an impossibility)

OR

2. REJECT the conclusions you have drawn WHICH contradict that law.

Of course, as I suspected, you have done NEITHER. You have REJECTED the requirements of logic. As such, you have rejected reason and ANY basis for rational discussion. THAT is why I say you embrace the primacy of consciousness. BECAUSE the primacy of existence is about THAT WHICH EXISTS (and thus necessarily about that which possesses identity), you then CANNOT lay claim to the primacy of existence by making statements about the existence of nothingness - of NON-EXISTENCE. That DIRECTLY violates the primacy of existence - ie is a CONTRADICTION of it. But you are fond of those, so like I said, this one is no surprise.

IF you seek to carry on a rational discussion on this (or ANY) subject, I STRONGLY suggest a reading of the sources I mentioned above (and take a class on logic as well. Peikoff has one if you need). Until then, NOTHING you say can be considered WHATSOEVER - because YOU have placed what you say BEYOND the dictates of logic and thus reason.

Oh - and not that it matters now, but the nick is rAdcap

--

Tom -

Just one thing I would adjust about your last sentence:

There is no nothing; i.e., nonexistence does not exist; i.e., ONLY existence exists.

;)

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DAC: just to add to my previous comments, I realized you're committing a moderately well-known logical fallacy: the Fallacy of Composition. This is the fallacy of ascribing attributes of a thing's parts to the thing as a whole. Maybe reading up on this error will alleviate some of your confusion. (I'm sure a quick Google search will give you volumes.)

MinorityOfOne: That's pretty much my question too. I'm not sure that finite/infinite apply--possibly for the same reasons that so many other concepts don't apply. It might be better to say the universe is not infinite, not that it's finite.

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TR,

A = A

S(x^2)dx = S(x^2)dx

(t1,x1,y1,z1) = (t1,x1,y1,z1)

4 = 4

"A thing is itself"

"A rose is a rose is a rose"

An ether must exist - Quad Eras Demonstratum, QED, finito

If science violates the law of identity, then it must display a contradiction with reality. Given that the ether's possibility of existence has been conclusively disproved, and no amount of A is A chanting will bring it back, where is the contradiction?

"If it exists, it exists as something with a particular knowable uncontradictory identity."

"Nonexistence does not exist" is self-referential. "Nonexistence of a exists within the framework A" is perfectly rational.

I am still waiting for anyone to explain the Michelson-Morley experiment in Objectivism's language.

RC,

"Something exists there, we know that because we think we have a rule that says it; however, since we can't define that something, and it has no identity, we don't know any of its properties. For all intents and purposes, it has no properties save that it does not interact at all with anything else in existence for the simple reason that no matter how scientists have tried, they simply have not been able to detect that something. The ancient Greeks could blow on their void and they could sail with it, but we can't do any of that; but no matter." That, or it is you who is mistaken.

I have not drawn any conclusions which differ from what mainstream science has discovered about reality. Rejecting that would be tantamount to rejecting reality in favor of A is A deductions.

And by the way, since you are so adament in opposing physics, would you like to explain the famous double-slit experiment, and how it really does not violate the law of causality? (According to modern science, it doesn't, but you reject modern science, and according to your unaided eyes it does.)

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He seems to be using 'finite' in different contexts, in one he uses it to mean finite as synonomous with identity (EDIT: I don't recall objectivism using 'finite' in this context. Why use finite when you can just say identity) and then uses finite as a limitation on attributes, this was confusing when I first read it.

Maybe the problem was with the word 'sum' I will have to think about this... Sum implies all the characteristics of every entity are included in the concept universe, just like every entity is. At the very least I found the Silverman essay not entirely clear.

He also claims that the universe possesses neither infinite size or finite size, he says size does not apply (yet, the universe is 'finite'). For example, what is the difference between 'no size' and 'infinite size'... The end result is the same in reality, neither can exist... I am trying to eliminate what I call 'Word Art' and arrive at the essential meaning without contradiction (or the very least questions).

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Silverman says that the universe is finite.  He also says that in order for something to be finite, it must be finite with respect to something.  But he doesn't say what the universe is finite with respect to -- just that it *has* to be finite, since it exists.  So what's finite about it?...

Also, what attributes does the 'universe' possess other than identity? Since it cannot have the characteristics of its parts, it possesses identity with no particular characteristics (as noted by mattbateman, I am still digesting this)... This does not seem to far off from infinity (infinity in this context is defined as an alleged entity that possess a non-measureable quantity of a particular characteristic. i.e.- No characteristic at all). How does this differ from the above statements of the universe from Silverman? On one hand you have a universe that has identity but has no characteristics and on the other, a universe that has identity, but has infinite characteristics (impossible)... It goes back to my question asked in my last post... What is the difference between a universe with 'no size' and a universe with 'infinite size'... The end result is the same in reality, neither can exist...

My understanding of identity and existence is that to exist is to exist as something particular and possess characteristics. Does silverman ever say what are the characteristics of the universe, other than it has identity (which I don't believe is a characteristic, but a corrollary of existence)?

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y

I already stated I will not sanction your irrationality any further. Trying to taunt or bait me will not change that determination because it does not change the nature of YOUR discourse. It REMAINS irrational. It remains ANTI-philosophy.

I would explain more, but since you reject philosophy in favor of science not based ON philosophy (ie without any laws or basis) there is, as I have stated numerous times now, no means of rational discourse with you.

In the future, I recommend you read the subject matter that was suggested above (ESPECIALLY since the ANSWERS to the questions are provided there - ie the double slit experiment. As has been stated, and should be obvious to any rational individual, a forum is NOT a school. One CANNOT teach you *here* what you do not know. We can ONLY point you in the right direction. Your refusal to go in that direction and your petulant and ANTI-logical demands to be taught *here* instead only solidify the case AGAINST you).

So - until you DO apprise yourself of these materials, your words are not even hot air.

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At least as he is using the term, "sum" is pretty piss-poor. Normally, a sum is the added total of a bounded set. Since he's arguing that the universe is unbounded, he's obviously got a different meaning in mind... and I haven't a clue what it is.

Here's the problem regarding finiteness. As a really general term, it basically means that "whatever characteristics a thing has, it has them in a specific amount." (At least, that's how I think of it.) The alternative is that it *doesn't* have them in a specific amount, which is a violation of the law of identity. Silverman seems like he's dodging this, but not very successfully: he says the universe is finite, but doesn't say what characteristics it has. (And eliminates just about all the possibilities.)

I've got one idea about this, but I want to toss it around in my head a bit more and see if it makes sense. I thought it did a minute ago, but it got a bit fuzzy while I was writing. (Plus, I've got a midterm in two and a half hours to study for) ;)

Matt Bateman, if you're going to argue that finiteness doesn't apply to the universe, you'll also have to argue that the concept of quantity doesn't apply to the universe. Ok -- if it's unbounded, how would it? But we're still hitting a dead end. Seems like every concept you try to apply to the universe leads to a contradiction, and it's precisely because the universe is unbounded.

"Unbounded" leads to something suspiciously like the "some, but any" principle. I'll have to think it through further, but I'm worried that Silverman is trying to turn the universe into one big abstraction. If so, and if it's because of "unboundedness", then that idea needs to be dropped. I don't live in an abstraction.

DAC, by the way, the fallacy of composition doesn't say that a thing *can't* have the characteristics of its constituent parts. It can; it just doesn't have to. "X is made of Y's; all Y's are A; therefore, X is A" is not a logical inference, but that doesn't mean the negation of the conclusion follows from the premises either.

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I'm thinking out loud here more than providing a good answer.

I think recognition of the fact that "universe" is a synonym for "existence" might be the key to understanding whats going on here.

It is correct to say that a particular existent is its attributes and its identity.

But existence as such--the axiom "existence"--what can you say about that? It's an axiom, so not much. "Existence exists." "Existence is identity." You can say much more about particular existents (aspects of existence), but the concept itself is irreducable and undefinable.

There's an analogy to consciousness here: you can divide consciousness into various aspects (thinking, feeling), but the concept itself is irreducable and undefinable. You can specify and analyze in detail the nature of aspects of consciousness, but you can't analyze awareness as such.

So the analogy would be...

Consciousness : Aspects of consciousness :: Existence : Existents

Please shoot this explanation full of holes... I am way far from sold on it. Things to think about: Does identity imply characteritics? What does "characteristic" mean? I, too, am worried that we end up with "universe" as something of a disconnected abstraction--though I'm not sure that this worry is justified, either.

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Down, RadCap! Down boy!

Y_Feld has made some screw-ups. However, I just reread through all his posts here and I see no reason to think he's being intellectually dishonest. You've pointed out some of the problems in his posts, but you either haven't grasped his context or haven't made allowances for it such that he could understand *why* they're problems. Because of this, your posts are coming across as dogmatic and rude. If I may offer a suggestion, in the future you might want to just drop conversations with people who exasperate you rather than allowing them to escalate to the level of name-calling.

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Does identity imply characteritics?
I believe it does... identity is existing as something in particular, and that something must have characteristics...

What does "characteristic" mean?

I understand it to be synonymous with 'attributes'

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I found that Dr. Harry Binswanger had, on his list, made some comments about this very paper. I am posting those comments here to see if it helps the conversation at all. (If there is an objection, by him or others to this posting, I will of course delete it immediately):

--

I have not studied Mr. Silverman's essay thoroughly, but I have read it

once and gone over it lightly a second time.

I agree with Mr. Silverman's general intent: to show that the paradoxes

that arise regarding the size of the universe and the number of entities in

it are based on the wrong assumption that the universe has a size or is the

kind of thing whose contents can be quantified.

I also agree with his parallel between time and space--the universe is not

in time or in space, and just as it is wrong to say "an infinite time has

passed before now" so it is wrong to say "an infinite number of entities

exist extending out from here." (And, by the same token, it is wrong to say

that time or distance is finite.)

He is right that the same principles that solve the "time problem" solve

the "size problem."

I don't think I agree, however, with a few of his formulations or

arguments. At the risk of seeming over-critical, I will cover my

disagreements briefly. (By the way, he attributes a phrase to me that I did

not originate and is a standard Objectivist formulation: "The universe is

not in time; time is in the universe.")

1. A small point: He writes:

"If everything that exists must be finite, then *everything that exists*

(i.e., existence) *must be finite*."

That could be read as committing the fallacy of composition. It does not

follow from the finiteness of each thing that the totality of all things

must be finite. But I think his argument is actually: If to exist is to be

finite, then since the universe exists, it must be finite.

2. He writes:

"Thus, the two questions, 'Have a finite number of events transpired

throughout the entire history of the universe?' and 'Are there a finite

number of entities in the universe?' are essentially the same:"

I agree that far, but then he says:

"they both steal the concept of number from the concept of quantity."

I don't see the issue as stealing the concept of "number," and I don't

follow his argument about the relation of number to quantity as being

relevant here. My point would be: there is no such thing as "the entire

history of the universe." And the parallel for number would be: there is no

such thing as "the entire extent of the universe."

Why not?

For one thing, since the universe is not "in time," it is at least very

unclear that there is one "now" for the whole universe. Ayn Rand held that

time was "local"--i.e., a single time does not apply to the whole universe.

At least that's what she said to me in conversation--maybe it was only a

hypothesis on her part, I didn't ask her how certain she was of that.

If there is no one "now" for the whole universe, how do we talk about the

number of things in the universe? This is another aspect of the general

fact, that Mr. Silverman points out, that the universe is not a "bounded"

set of things. In this case, the lack of bounds is temporal.

(You might argue that since the ultimate constituents of the universe do

not come into existence or go out of existence, we can get around this

temporal problem by counting just the ultimate constituents. But I don't

think this is possible either--I don't know how you'd ever be able to

determine if you'd counted them all once and only once. And what if there

are ultimately only four kinds of ultimate constituents, which

interpenetrate or are goo-like? We can't assume that the ultimate

constituents are physical objects in the perceptual-level sense.)

The second reason why I think that size and number of components do not

apply to the universe is the issue of spatial boundedness. Here I would go

farther, or deeper, than Mr. Silverman. The ideas of space and of

*direction* only apply *within* the universe. For this reason, as I've

argued in lectures, it makes no sense to talk about going *out*

indefinitely "in a straight line" from somewhere. "Out"--in relation to

what? "In a straight line"--as determined how?

If a super-fast spaceship moves out from the earth, we cannot forget that

the earth moves. Eventually, the earth disintegrates and its elements

disperse. We can't mark a static X in empty space and move "out" from that.

There is no cosmic graph paper to chart our distance or our direction.

Position is a concept that depends upon entities, and all entities move.

So, I hold that it is an error to even in imagination survey the entire

universe, considering it a collection existing at one moment, as if one

were outside of it looking at it. You can't consistently think about the

"spread" of it and draw, in thought, a diameter across it.

In general, I think the concept of "direction" is fundamental, and it

depends on the faculty of sight. It is probably a concept formed from the

visual form of perception. I have argued that "direction" is an axiomatic

concept for geometry, and I think more thought needs to be given to that

concept.

Also, I oppose the concept "infinity," even in mathematics. I think the

origins of the concept lie in mysticism. (What is called "infinite" in

mathematics can be re-defined in terms that are non-mystical, such as

"considering this sequence in so far as it continues, abstracting from its

end," or by other devices).

If this is correct, then the proper statement is not really "the universe

is finite" but "the universe is not infinite." Here I may be in

disagreement with Ayn Rand. She said in one Q&A when asked what it means to

say that the universe is finite: "It means: there is only so much of it."

(That's from memory, but I'm fairly sure I have it verbatim; if anyone has

the actual Q&A, I'd appreciate getting her whole answer.)

But, at any rate, it makes no sense to ask: if the universe is not

infinite, what happens when you get to the end of it? There's no such thing

as getting to the end of it. Neither the spatial concepts nor the

directional concepts apply.

--

There is much more posted on the list on this topic and cosmology in general. However, you will have to join the list itself to read them. ;)

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Matt

At each step I have specifically explained WHY and HOW what he says is wrong. He has NOT refuted these things. He has IGNORED them. THAT is intellectual dishonesty. And I will certainly point it out when it occurs (I already have confered with admins on this point about y_ and they agree).

Also, rejecting metaphysics as the basis of ANY and ALL science is not just a "screw up", it is a FUNDAMENTAL philosophic flaw - one which infects his EVERY assertion or post.

As to your claim of name-calling, please provide evidence of this - or retract the claim. And please recognize the difference between calling someone a nazi because one doesn't like them and IDENTIFYING someone as a nazi because of their explicit and/or implicit philosophy. I have done the latter, but apparently you see it as the former. I cannot help your misinterpretation. I can only point it out and thus reveal it is NOT rude, as you characterize it, but is ESSENTIAL philosophic detection.

It is unfortunate you confuse the two.

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...For one thing, since the universe is not "in time," it is at least very

unclear that there is one "now" for the whole universe. Ayn Rand held that

time was "local"--i.e., a single time does not apply to the whole universe...

Is this the objectivist way of incorporating General Relativity (e.g. Background time and Absolute Time)

There is much more posted on the list on this topic and cosmology in general.  However, you will have to join the list itself to read them.

This was partially helpful, I'd be interested in reading more... Where are these lists...

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I have made essentially two points.

1. It is a fact of reality that no ether exists; it is demonstrable from perception and derivable from everything else we know about how the universe works.

2. You evade this fact of reality by invoking the rules of logic.

There are three possibile resolutions.

1. This fact of reality is incorrect, and in time we will perceive or derive ether.

2. The rules of logic are incorrect, and a new framework must be created.

3. You have not correctly applied the rules of logic in disputing the fact of reality.

I lean toward 3. What is your opinion on the matter?

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Why is it that the irrational always seek to engage the rational, even after the rational have explicitly refused further contact?

Oh - that's right - because the irrational cannot stand on their own in reality. They need the sanction - the 'validation' - of those whom they seek to destroy. So I guess the better question is, WHY they expect the rational to provide them with that sanction - ESPECIALLY after explicitly refusing to provide it.

But then, who actually wants to waste time trying to understand the psychology of the irrational? One merely needs to point it out and be done with them. As I am with Y_feldblum.

;)

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Wow... that is a fantastic article. Does anyone know how to get in touch with the guy who wrote it? Private message me if you do, please.

Yes, Silverman's writings are really interesting and thought-provoking; though I don't know how you would get in touch with him. There is another article of his--which I found at Objectivist Atheology--on the eternality of the universe: http://www.geocities.com/rationalphysics/e...aluniverse.html (What really bothers me is that I can't seem to get to the index of this site--if there is one.)

Incidentally, I think the arguments for the eternality of the universe proposed in this essay may hint at an answer to DAC's questions.

It goes back to my question asked in my last post... What is the difference between a universe with 'no size' and a universe with 'infinite size'... The end result is the same in reality, neither can exist...

In The Eternality of the Universe, Alex Sliverman argues against the false dichotomy of the universe either having a beginning and ending in time, or being infinite in time, by recognizing that this view presupposes that the concept "time" is even applicable to the universe in the first place. He uses the analogy of applying the concept of length to a mental event like emotions; he says emotions have no length, but it obviously does not follow from this that they are "infinite in length." He then applies this same principle to the issue of time and the universe (length is to emotions as time is to the universe--i.e., simply not applicable).

So then the question is: Is it a valid analogy; and can we say the same regarding size and the universe as well?

Edited by softwareNerd
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