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Fundamentally, is there only ‘spacetime’?

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Cleansing concepts around ‘spacetime

 

Thank you class; MisterSwig, StrictlyLogical, Eiuol and Grames — good input.

 

Here I’m pegging a concluding thought (any follow-up remarks most welcome).

 

 

So a range of slightly different models related to spacetime have been floating around over the last couple of weeks. I won’t attempt to summarize these different frameworks, I’d rather focus on what seems to be a major fault-line. I think the fracture has been conceptual, particularly for ‘space’ and ‘time’, which then goes on to affect a whole range of related concepts; medium, gaps, vacuums, location, information, matter and spacetime itself.

 

Here I’ll attempt a little spring-cleaning of just three key concepts; space, time, entity (prior to any subsequent tackling of spacetime itself). 

Let me know if you think it harms/helps matters.

 

 

 

First stop The Oxford English Dictionary to survey standard meanings, thence to The Ayn Rand Lexicon for a little selective clarification, then my own jottings set out below. I think the resulting six concepts form an interesting integration…

 

 

Space

 

Dictionaries offer a wide assortment of definitions, ranging from typographic padding to being left undisturbed. However, for the core meaning they always give two distinct definitions relevant to the kind of space this topic addresses (OED)

 

• A continuous area or expanse which is free, available, or unoccupied.

• The dimensions of height, depth, and width within which all things exist and move.

 

I think it is instructive to keep these two concepts in separate boxes when discussing ‘space’. To this end I propose a conceptual split into two different words:

⁓ Concept 1. Space

⁓ Concept 2. The Spatial

 

The first is a noun — apt for entity.

The second is a nominalized adjective — apt for attribute of an entity.

 

The Ayn Rand Lexicon hones in on space as the spatial —the relational concept —and does a good job, but I think it rather papers-over the first, more everyday usage of the term — e.g., I have space in my tummy for one more yummy digestive biscuit.

 

Expanding the difference between the two main definitions:

 

⁓  1. Space

Space–space’: a word for everyday usage ~ about volumetric things…

  • An absolute existent* entity (with spatial and temporal attributes).
  • It has dimension (in which a three dimensional coordinate system, with arbitrary origin, could map it exhaustively).
  • It is volumetric; whether dense like a blackhole or ‘empty’ like an absolute vacuum — whatever its mass, its volume is always greater than zero.
  • It is never ‘nothing’.
  • It is a concrete, not an abstract.
  • It is measurable, not a measurement.
  • It is a part of a greater (potentially boundless) whole — the universe.

 

Example:

I have space at the end of this sentence to place a full-stop.

 

Antonym:

No-space (or boundless space as near antonym)

This can either be zero volume (effectively nothing), or by an already space-occupying volume.

 

⁓  2. The Spatial

A word for abstract usage ~ about the spatial relations of things…

  • A relative existent* attribute (of entities).
  • It is dimension (along with the temporal dimension).
  • It is the relations of scale, position, distance, area, volume (but not the actualization of these relational attributes themselves into ‘space-occupying entities’).
  • It is never ‘something’ (nor ‘nothing’ as attributes exist).
  • It is an abstract, not a concrete.
  • It is measurement, not measurable.
  • Bounds or scales don’t apply — the spatial is a relational attribute of the universe (and all its potential parts).

 

Example:

The full-stop at the end of this sentence has spatial extension, but perhaps less so than a comma.

 

Antonym:

The temporal.

(Emphatically not fullness/emptiness)

The spatial can only be contrasted with the one other dimension (which mutually defines it).

 

 

* Existent = an existing entity or an attribute/action (of an existing entity).

In the case of the spatial and the temporal, they are existent attributes, not entities. Furthermore, no existent entity is without this duplet of attributes, everything has a spatial & temporal aspect..

This might tie-in to the gist of my original forum question — ‘could the universe be cashed out in terms of these two fundamental attributes?’

 

 

Time

OED

• A point [or period] of time as measured (in hours and minutes past midnight or noon).

• [mass noun] the indefinite continued progress of existence and events in the past, present, and future regarded as a whole.   

 

Thus, as with space, a similar bifurcation into two different concepts is in order:

⁓ Concept 3. Time

⁓ Concept 4. The Temporal

 

The difference between the two main definitions:

 

⁓  3. Time

Time–time’: a word for everyday usage ~ about occurrences…

  • An absolute existent event (with spatial and temporal attributes).
  • It has dimension (in which a linear coordinate system, with arbitrary origin, could map it exhaustively).
  • It is chronological; whether delineating past ages or future micro-seconds — whatever its span, its passing is always greater than zero.
  • It is never ‘timeless’.
  • It is a concrete, not an abstract.
  • It is measurable, not a measurement.
  • It is a part of a greater (potentially boundless) whole — universal time.

 

Example:

Noticing the full-stop at the end of this sentence will occur within the next second of time.

 

Antonym:

No-time (or timeless as near antonym).

In contrast to space, time is not exclusionary, lots of occurrences can happen at the same time.

 

⁓  4. The Temporal

A word for abstract usage ~ about the temporal relations of occurrences…

  • A relative existent attribute (of events).
  • It is dimension (along with the spatial dimension).
  • It is the relational context for all things chronological (but not the actualization of these relations into its own ‘event’).
  • It is never ‘an event’ (nor ‘non-event’ as attributes exist).
  • It is an abstract, not a concrete.
  • It is measurement, not measurable.
  • Bounds or scales don’t apply — the temporal is a relational attribute of universal time (and all its potential sequences).

 

Example:

The full-stop at the end of this sentence has limited temporal extension into the past and future.

 

Antonym:

The spatial

(Emphatically not instantaneous/timelessness)

The temporal can only be contrasted with the one other dimension.

 

 

NB, I maintain that there are only two ‘essential’ relational existents: the spatial and the temporal. Moreover, the spatial defines the temporal; the temporal defines the spatial.

(Do they ‘require’ entities to exist or just differences between one another?) 

 

 

Before tackling ‘spacetime’ it might be worthwhile defining the next pair; entity, along with its rather neglected twin, event

 

 

Entity

The OED gives one definition…

• A thing with distinct and independent existence.

 

However, as all things are also processes (given enough time), it might be conceptually correct to tease out the two distinctive aspects contained within ‘entity’. 

Thus: 

 

  Concept 5. Entity

A word primarily regarding something ‘in space’.

 

Entity = a spatial difference that makes a difference (spatially/temporally).

 

I believe this get to the very essence of ‘entity’ (more so than through invocations of solidity, ostensibility, absoluteness, boundedness, etc.).

 

Entity means specifically a spatial difference. It entails a boundary between itself and the space that it does not occupy — whether another unique entity or ‘the rest of the universe’.

Crucially, it entails uniqueness of identity — yet identity comprises a relative as well as absolute aspect — entities are its attributes, attributes are both relational and absolute.

 

 

  Concept 6. Event

A word primarily regarding something ‘in time’.

 

Event = a temporal difference that makes a difference (spatially/temporally).

 

Again, this get to the very essence of ‘event’ I think (more so than invocations of time-span, change, motion, causal chain, etc.).

 

Entity entails event, events entail entities.

All entities are undergoing some sort of processes (protraction often renders these transmutations imperceptible).

 

 

NB, Objectivism makes a convincing case for the epistemological primacy of entity (thus metaphysically primacy) — our knowledge of reality works by firstly separating-out the relatively stable aspects of any process, the thing undergoing change rather than the overall process/event itself. That is unless the event is the more salient feature — e.g., we think of a gun-shot as an event, in contrast to, say, the Alps (an interminable tectonic event). Events not only entail entities, they are built from entities. 

 

 

 

 

A definition of Spacetime (and its integral curvaceousness)?

Has this disentangling of the three words (space, time, entity) into six concepts (space/spacial, time/temporal, entity/event) been positive for this discussion, or do you think that it's been hopelessly flawed? Do give me hell if they are invalid — I'm here to learn!

 

Now, would anyone venture a definition of spacetime itself perchance? 

 

 

 

 

 

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Well put.  I only observe that the existence of some kinds of existents is mostly independent of other existents while the existence of other kinds of existents depends upon the existence of others.  

Thank you very much SL,  I really appreciate the effort gone into the story-telling, it works well as a clear explication — very helpful indeed.   My last post seems to have ended on a

Cleansing concepts around ‘spacetime’   Thank you class; MisterSwig, StrictlyLogical, Eiuol and Grames — good input.   Here I’m pegging a concluding thought (any follow-up remarks

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On 5/29/2019 at 7:00 AM, A.C.E. said:

Has this disentangling of the three words (space, time, entity) into six concepts (space/spacial, time/temporal, entity/event) been positive for this discussion, or do you think that it's been hopelessly flawed? Do give me hell if they are invalid — I'm here to learn!

I don't know about "hopelessly," but I think your concept of time is flawed. Before getting into it, maybe you could address Peikoff's view in the Lexicon entry. I note that you say time is not a measurement, whereas Peikoff has it as the genus of the definition.

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22 minutes ago, pittsburghjoe said:

There is a divide between QM and Spacetime. QM existed before the big bang: https://phys.org/news/2019-05-stabilizing-no-boundary-universe-quantum.html

“Before time” is self contradictory.  The term “before” means a relationship in time where one time is later than another.  The implication of “before time” is that there was a time prior to time’s start... but that is a clear contradiction.  

So, time and the universe (in whatever form it took) existed prior to the big bang event.

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Here I’ll reply to StrictlyLogical and MisterSwig (the paper that pittsburghjoe advances is a wee bit beyond my ken: https://arxiv.org/pdf/1903.06757.pdf).

 

I’ll address the disparity between my definitions of Space and Time and The Lexicon.

Then I’ll attempt to state what I take to be true of reality as integrated from percepts and through the application of noncontradictory identification.

 

 

The Ayn Rand Lexicon: entries for Time and Space

Time 

Space 

 

I agree with these explications.

However, my point is that they are explications that I would prefer to call ‘the temporal’ and ‘the spatial’ rather than ‘space’ and ‘time’. 

 

This might be best illustrated by imagining that I had been handed the job of re-editing The Lexicon (ho ho!). I would retain entries for Space and Time (as they are the more commonly used terms), but parse each of them out, something like this…

 

Space ⁓

⁓ Space

(noun — apt for entity)

An anti-concept*: used as approximate substitute for a specific volumetric entity. E.g.; space in my case, outer-space, space-filling object, a vacuum, etc.

 

⁓ The Spatial

(nominalized adjective — apt for existent relational attribute)

“The Spatial,” like “the temporal,” is a relational concept. It does not designate an entity, but a relationship, which exists only within the universe. The universe is not in the spatial any more than it is in the temporal… 

[Peikoff's definition continues in this way…]

 

Time ⁓

⁓ Time

(noun — apt for event)

An anti-concept*: used as approximate substitute for a specific chronological event. E.g.; now, 1984, five-to-seven, the Pleistocene, next week, etc.

 

⁓ The Temporal

(nominalized adjective — apt for existent relational attribute)

The temporal is a measurement of motion; as such, it is a type of relationship. The temporal applies only within the universe…

[continuation of Peikoff's definition…]

 

 

* I’ve termed space and time anti-concepts, which might be too harsh — I’m being a tad provocative here. I think they are still useful in common speech, indispensable even, as long as we treat them as the place-holders that they are

 

By adopting the spatial/temporal I’m trying to promote the relational meaning couched within space and time, the sense that Peikoff is getting at. I'm concerned that the terms  ‘space’ and ‘time’ tend to be illusive substitutes for actual specific things/events.

 

I don't know about you, but I'll let you into the secret machinations of my mind. When I hear ‘space’ I immediately picture a cubic volume of air; when I read ‘time’ I picture an egg-timer running out at four minutes ~ specific concretes rather than abstract relationships, I can't help it. That’s the issue that I wanted to help resolve by employing an adjective rather than an entity-implying noun.

 

To address MisterSwig’s specific query about time:

On 5/31/2019 at 6:28 PM, MisterSwig said:

I note that you say time is not a measurement, whereas Peikoff has it as the genus of the definition.

 

As indicated above, I don’t immediately view the term ‘time’ as representing measurement — that requires extra effort. The term ‘the temporal’ more suitably fulfills that role because the relatival is implicit: adjectives name relational attributes, nouns do not.

So, other than that grammatical quibble, I'm on board with Peikoff ~ the temporal is measurement. 

 

 

 

 

Is the spatial truer of reality than ‘space’? Is the temporal truer of reality than ‘time’?

This comes from StrictlyLogical’s very exacting question:

On 5/31/2019 at 4:24 PM, StrictlyLogical said:

Can you state what you take to be true of reality as integrated from percepts and through application of noncontradictory identification?

 

Perception affords us percepts which can be compared,  contrasted and isolated from other percepts, giving us entities, to be named/conceptualized.

The Spatial is a concept abstracted in reality from entities — it is not abstracted from ‘space’.

It isolates one of two essential relational aspects of an entity: (non-temporal) relationships; relative position, length, volume, etc.

 

Ditto The Temporal… 

 

I know I'm being controversial — effectively taking Rand's Razor to ‘space’ and ‘time’ for what I consider to be a more fitting definition. 

I don’t think that this proposal is reverting to nominalism or psychological obfuscation — is it?

I currently view it as an attempt to clarify concepts, to ensure that they better map reality, are more precise, are objective.

 

I hope this post has been a bit clearer than my last?

 

 

 

So then, where might I be going horribly wrong?

 

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1 hour ago, A.C.E. said:

Here I’ll reply to StrictlyLogical and MisterSwig (the paper that pittsburghjoe advances is a wee bit beyond my ken: https://arxiv.org/pdf/1903.06757.pdf).

 

I’ll address the disparity between my definitions of Space and Time and The Lexicon.

Then I’ll attempt to state what I take to be true of reality as integrated from percepts and through the application of noncontradictory identification.

 

 

The Ayn Rand Lexicon: entries for Time and Space

Time 

Space 

 

I agree with these explications.

However, my point is that they are explications that I would prefer to call ‘the temporal’ and ‘the spatial’ rather than ‘space’ and ‘time’. 

 

This might be best illustrated by imagining that I had been handed the job of re-editing The Lexicon (ho ho!). I would retain entries for Space and Time (as they are the more commonly used terms), but parse each of them out, something like this…

 

Space ⁓

⁓ Space

(noun — apt for entity)

An anti-concept*: used as approximate substitute for a specific volumetric entity. E.g.; space in my case, outer-space, space-filling object, a vacuum, etc.

 

⁓ The Spatial

(nominalized adjective — apt for existent relational attribute)

“The Spatial,” like “the temporal,” is a relational concept. It does not designate an entity, but a relationship, which exists only within the universe. The universe is not in the spatial any more than it is in the temporal… 

[Peikoff's definition continues in this way…]

 

Time ⁓

⁓ Time

(noun — apt for event)

An anti-concept*: used as approximate substitute for a specific chronological event. E.g.; now, 1984, five-to-seven, the Pleistocene, next week, etc.

 

⁓ The Temporal

(nominalized adjective — apt for existent relational attribute)

The temporal is a measurement of motion; as such, it is a type of relationship. The temporal applies only within the universe…

[continuation of Peikoff's definition…]

 

 

* I’ve termed space and time anti-concepts, which might be too harsh — I’m being a tad provocative here. I think they are still useful in common speech, indispensable even, as long as we treat them as the place-holders that they are

 

By adopting the spatial/temporal I’m trying to promote the relational meaning couched within space and time, the sense that Peikoff is getting at. I'm concerned that the terms  ‘space’ and ‘time’ tend to be illusive substitutes for actual specific things/events.

 

I don't know about you, but I'll let you into the secret machinations of my mind. When I hear ‘space’ I immediately picture a cubic volume of air; when I read ‘time’ I picture an egg-timer running out at four minutes ~ specific concretes rather than abstract relationships, I can't help it. That’s the issue that I wanted to help resolve by employing an adjective rather than an entity-implying noun.

 

To address MisterSwig’s specific query about time:

 

As indicated above, I don’t immediately view the term ‘time’ as representing measurement — that requires extra effort. The term ‘the temporal’ more suitably fulfills that role because the relatival is implicit: adjectives name relational attributes, nouns do not.

So, other than that grammatical quibble, I'm on board with Peikoff ~ the temporal is measurement. 

 

 

 

 

Is the spatial truer of reality than ‘space’? Is the temporal truer of reality than ‘time’?

This comes from StrictlyLogical’s very exacting question:

 

Perception affords us percepts which can be compared,  contrasted and isolated from other percepts, giving us entities, to be named/conceptualized.

The Spatial is a concept abstracted in reality from entities — it is not abstracted from ‘space’.

It isolates one of two essential relational aspects of an entity: (non-temporal) relationships; relative position, length, volume, etc.

 

Ditto The Temporal… 

 

I know I'm being controversial — effectively taking Rand's Razor to ‘space’ and ‘time’ for what I consider to be a more fitting definition. 

I don’t think that this proposal is reverting to nominalism or psychological obfuscation — is it?

I currently view it as an attempt to clarify concepts, to ensure that they better map reality, are more precise, are objective.

 

I hope this post has been a bit clearer than my last?

 

 

 

So then, where might I be going horribly wrong?

 

I agree generally, but I would counsel less caution regarding quantification or measurement of relationships. Time and space even as completely relational are subject to measurement and quantification.  Quantity does not necessarily imply substance or entity.  That said I am empathetic to your warnings regarding conceptual sloppiness normally associated with the common terms “time” and “space”.

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4 hours ago, A.C.E. said:

...adjectives name relational attributes, nouns do not.

That isn't true. Nouns name things. Relational attributes are things, and so nouns name them. For example, my brother is a male related to me by the same parentage. Brother is a noun, yet it refers to a relational attribute of a person.

Also, adjectives modify nouns, they don't replace them. Fraternal doesn't mean a male sibling. It modifies some noun, such as bond or society, to give it a characteristic(s) of male siblings. The modification could be of a literal or figurative nature, depending on the provided context.

I would rank your "grammatical quibble" as the #1 issue here. It's more of a conceptual clash, in my view. But I'll try to move on.

Regarding the word time, I use it to name a thing. It is a measurement of motion. It is a year, which is one Earth orbit around the Sun. It is a day, or one Earth rotation around its axis. It's also an hour, 1/24th of an Earth rotation. Your egg timer measures the rotation of the Earth--in minutes. If it were slow or fast, you would recalibrate it according to the standard of Earth's rotation. You wouldn't take the egg timer as the standard and redefine a "minute" based on its slow or fast movement. You'd find a clock that accurately measures an Earth rotation in minutes, and you'd compare it to that.

6 hours ago, A.C.E. said:

By adopting the spatial/temporal I’m trying to promote the relational meaning couched within space and time, the sense that Peikoff is getting at. I'm concerned that the terms  ‘space’ and ‘time’ tend to be illusive substitutes for actual specific things/events.

The problem is that by promoting the relational, you're demoting the actual thing which is relational. Relationships are not primary existents.

I don't understand your concern about "space" and "time" being "illusive substitutes for actual specific things/events." Words don't substitute for reality. They refer to it. This is one difference between a subjective and objective orientation: either words take the place of reality or they represent it.

7 hours ago, A.C.E. said:

As indicated above, I don’t immediately view the term ‘time’ as representing measurement — that requires extra effort.

Is effort your standard for meaning? If a meaning comes more easily to mind, then is it more accurate than one that requires extra effort? 

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Grames…

On 6/3/2019 at 4:56 AM, Grames said:

Is it a fair understanding of your statement that the concepts space and time are reifications, but the attributes spatial and temporal are not?

 

That’s a brilliantly succinct summary of my position — I wish I had been as clear.

 

Yes.

But I would put it no stronger than this:

I think the concept-words ‘space’ and ‘time’ drift towards entity/event reification — simply because the words denoting the concepts are common (abstract) nouns. As we are describing relational attributes rather than entity/event, ‘the spatial’ and ‘the temporal’ would be a much more suitable word choices — truer to objective reality.

 

(Love the “…snip” by the way) 

 

 

 

StrictlyLogical…

I heed Strictly’s caution about relations being open to measurement, and that a specific quantification doesn’t implicate entity/event. That would be throwing our relations-exist-cognisant-baby out with the reification-of-relations-bathwater (to stretch an idiomatic expression well beyond breaking-point!).

Anyway, it looks like SL deciphered my overall intention pretty well.

 

 

 

MisterSwig…

On 6/3/2019 at 12:22 AM, MisterSwig said:

Nouns name things. Relational attributes are things, and so nouns name them.

 

I’m taking ‘things’ to mean entities.

I don’t think relational attributes are entities. ‘Space’ and ‘time’ are existents yes, but not entities.

Cf. The Lexicon entry for Space:

“Space,” like “time,” is a relational concept. It does not designate an entity, but a relationship, which exists […]

 

 

I do agree with MisterSwig that adjectives always refer to a noun. However, the spacial and the temporal are nominalized adjectives, i.e., adjectives used as a noun.

 

The words ‘the spatial’ and ‘the temporal’ are presented as if they were any other existent (just like the nouns space/time) but, because their identity is adjectival, they come prefigured as being essentially relational. This nips in the bud any instinctive ‘solidification’ of relational existents into reified ‘things’.

 

 

On 6/3/2019 at 12:22 AM, MisterSwig said:

The problem is that by promoting the relational, you're demoting the actual thing which is relational. Relationships are not primary existents.

 

No, I don’t intend to demote that which is being related.

Entities/Events are ‘primary’ existents in that they define the existent spatial/temporal relations.

NB, I’d caution against taking ‘primary’ and ‘secondary’ too literally — no existent has more/less primacy than another — no matter that we can distinguish ‘primary sense entities’ (like my trusty pipe) from a gradation of entities with fuzzier bounds (those puffs of bluish smoke arising from it, plus any existent Brownian measurement betwixt those molecules in motion). 

 

 

On 6/3/2019 at 12:22 AM, MisterSwig said:

I don't understand your concern about "space" and "time" being "illusive substitutes for actual specific things/events." Words don't substitute for reality. They refer to it.

 

Fine, but I was trying to draw attention to this: whenever we say “space” or “time” in common parlance we are usually referring to a specific part of space or slice of time rather than the unbounded, non-scale, dimensional concept of relationships.

We might hear or say: 

“The Earth has been spinning around the Sun for a long time…”

“There is a considerable amount of space between our sun and the centre of our galaxy…”

 

These utterances represent specific ready-bounded parts/slices for “space” and “time”. We are so accustomed to experiencing parts/slices as belonging to limited wholes — inductive reasoning. Thus, from the above sentences, as well as a lifetime of similar reinforcing phrases, it's an extra step to grasp what “space” and “time” ought to really signify. It takes some concerted focus to think of space and time as having no intrinsic bounds, no intrinsic scale, as standing for utterly relational existents.

 

 

This brings me to MisterSwig’s last objection…

 

On 6/3/2019 at 12:22 AM, MisterSwig said:

Is effort your standard for meaning?

 

 

No, not at all.

Best fit with objective reality would be my standard.

I’m arguing that the spatial/the temporal is more precise, truer.

 

NB, effort and language: like water, a good language adapts to new knowledge, and should be allowed to flow naturally along any newly etched channels. The effort of maintaining redundant linguistic formulations, artificial dams that preserve surpassed knowledge, is not a virtue (except for studying old texts). I see the words ‘space’ and ‘time’ as potentially damming objective thinking.

 

 

Now I certainly don’t expect everyone to immediately drop ‘space’ and ‘time’ in metaphysical discussions any ‘time’ soon. I'll sit back and wait and see whether or not people start adopting it for clarification in metaphysical discussions…

“…space (i.e., the spacial)…”

…until it becomes obvious that the nominalized adjective is actually the more appropriate term and can even be used on its own. It’s a handy grammatical tool, why not select the right tool for the job?

 

 

 

 

Right then. Any major disagreements in this post or should we end it here?

 

 

P.S.

Of course I was being somewhat tongue-in-cheek in my last post when I suggested re-editing The Lexicon. However, I do think it’s high time for a more precise and detailed version — less of a scrapbook of Galt quotes and lecture clippings; more an Objectivist glossary for keywords.

Perhaps a special epistemology forum thread to kick that project off?

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4 minutes ago, A.C.E. said:

That would be throwing our relations-exist-cognisant-baby out with the reification-of-relations-bathwater

Love it.

 

As for your gravitation toward cleaning up language, I believe the better approach is to clean up the conceptual referent of the language.  Words cannot work out the concepts for anyone, parrots do not think, ... so for the humans, once one has worked out the concepts the term used is not crucial.

Rand's use of the term the "moral" is a perfect example.  Rather than capitulate the term to the anti-concept(s) it included as much of its referent territory, she generalized and clarified what valid concepts the term had within its purview and cleaned up the conceptual scope to which it applied, generating a proper word-concept.

The same is likely the best approach to the terms space and time... there's unnecessary baggage but it easily can be left behind (by anyone who is not a parrot).  Any statement about positions or points in time or quantities of space or time, are relational, quantifiable, and existential, but simply do not constitute entities... no problem once you've worked it out.

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7 hours ago, A.C.E. said:

I’m taking ‘things’ to mean entities.

Why? Things means existents

The common person has a better grasp of time as a thing than some physicists, in my view, especially the physicists who mistake their theoretical fantasy of time for reality.

7 hours ago, A.C.E. said:

...adjectives always refer to a noun.

They modify a noun. They refer to something in reality, even if it's only a fantastic thought in the mind.

7 hours ago, A.C.E. said:

However, the spacial and the temporal are nominalized adjectives, i.e., adjectives used as a noun.

Nominalizing an adjective doesn't get you closer to the objective thing in reality. It moves you further away from it, to yet another subjective thing in your mind. Time refers to the measurements of motions. Temporal refers to the characteristics of those measurements. And the temporal still refers to the characteristics, but imagines them as if they could exist separately in objective reality from the things that actually exist with those characteristics.

7 hours ago, A.C.E. said:

The wordsthe spatial’ and ‘the temporal’ are presented as if they were any other existent (just like the nouns space/time) but, because their identity is adjectival, they come prefigured as being essentially relational.

You seem to want your words to be both nouns and adjectives at the same time. While they might have the form of adjectives, they function as nouns. So they aren't going to solve some conceptual confusion that you think people have. Most people with a basic education grasp that it's the function that matters in language. Just because you give the words adjectival forms, people aren't going to identify them as adjectives. Context (reality and sentence structure) matters. The grammatical identity of a word is not determined by its form alone. Besides, "the temporal" is not actually an adjectival form. It has the form of a noun, since you added the definite article.

7 hours ago, A.C.E. said:

...whenever we say “space” or “time” in common parlance we are usually referring to a specific part of space or slice of time rather than the unbounded, non-scale, dimensional concept of relationships.

Right, because most people understand what's implied when we drop part of our universal context from a particular sentence construction. For example, since we all live in a world where we divide space into "amounts" or "regions", I can leave out such words from many conversations, making language more economical. If I say, "The space between those two buildings is very narrow," nobody with an IQ over 80 would miss the unstated context: that I'm talking about a particular area or region of space, not some solidified thing. I fear that you're inventing adjective-nouns to address a conceptual mistake only morons would make.

7 hours ago, A.C.E. said:

It takes some concerted focus to think of space and time as having no intrinsic bounds, no intrinsic scale, as standing for utterly relational existents.

I submit that it's even more difficult to think of "the spatial" and "the temporal" as being unbounded and scaleless relational existents. I still have to anchor these concepts to reality, but now I must also deal with their odd grammatical forms, which cause additional steps in the process.

7 hours ago, A.C.E. said:

Any major disagreements in this post or should we end it here?

I'm okay with stepping aside, if you want to have a final word. I'm about finished anyway.

Edited by MisterSwig
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On 6/4/2019 at 9:01 AM, A.C.E. said:

That’s a brilliantly succinct summary of my position — I wish I had been as clear.

 

Yes.

But I would put it no stronger than this:

I think the concept-words ‘space’ and ‘time’ drift towards entity/event reification — simply because the words denoting the concepts are common (abstract) nouns. As we are describing relational attributes rather than entity/event, ‘the spatial’ and ‘the temporal’ would be a much more suitable word choices — truer to objective reality.

 

(Love the “…snip” by the way) 

Well you might be onto something in a way.  Given that the state of the art in physics holds that the vacuum is not empty but filled with fields and virtual particles it is a fair interpretation that the spatial attributes of those fields and virtual particles is what we abstract to form the concept of space.  The fields and virtual particles are of course imperceptible to unaided human senses so the abstraction is hardwired into our means of perception.

A lecture to the public given at The Royal Institution on the topic of Quantum Field Theory:

Quantum Fields: The Real Building Blocks of the Universe - with David Tong  with a Q&A session.

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Thank you StrictlyLogical, MisterSwig, Grames,

I will reply to each one of you in order, then tack on a cursory review of this forum topic.

 

 

 

StrictlyLogical…

Yes, quite right, so let me parrot you: any clean-up of terminology ought to start with the conceptual referent itself.

I’m open to the terms Space and Time being rescued, purified — yet the use of common nouns to denote relationships demands continual vigilance. Treat The Spatial and The Temporal as proposed alternatives in case that rescue operation forever flounders on the rocks of reification.

 

 

 

MisterSwig…

Fair criticisms.

Indeed, if your Space and Time concepts are already as right as rain then their substitution by The Spatial and The Temporal would be an unnecessary imposition. In their defense, speaking for myself, these adjectives-in-noun-form help steer me away from non-relational lapses and, out of an assortment of dictionary definitions for Space and Time, hone me into their essential meaning ~ relationships.

 

You are correct about adjectives modifying rather than referring to a noun. That said The Spatial and The Temporal patently refer to space and time etymologically, however their asset is that they modify specific entities/events rather than space and time themselves. E.g., we talk of ‘a spatial room’ or ‘the temporal aspect of a piece of music’. It’s always befittingly about something (existent relations) rather than being considered a thing (space or time as entity — Ding an sich).

 

But time is a ‘thing’ you say.

 

Interesting, I get that it could be a counterweight against fantastical theories in physics — but no. Equating ‘things’ with all existents is fraught with danger in my opinion.

I’ve always taken ‘thing’ to be our everyday, rather non-committal word for entity ~ unspecified object. Especially in the primary sense of entities; those that we can point out and isolate (rock, a person, a table), then learn to charitably extend to more conceptually constructed ‘things’ (the solar system, General Motors, the smallest subatomic particle). That’s about as far as I'm willing to stretch ‘thingness’ without its meaning dissolving. ‘Thing’ doesn’t normally cover talk of qualities, quantities, relationships, actions. Granted, one of the dictionary definitions for ‘thing’ does allows for such semantic elasticity, but it’s under strain when it does this, pulling back to its primary meaning — unspecified object.

 

From The Lexicon

Existent

“…something that exists, be it a thing, an attribute or an action.”

The separation here of ‘thing’ from the categories of attribute and action speaks for itself.

 

Entity (bagged from Peikoff’s first definition in ITOE — The Philosophy of Objectivism lecture series, Lecture 3)

“An entity means a self-sufficient form of existence—as against a quality, an action, a relationship, etc., which are simply aspects of an entity that we separate out by specialized focus. An entity is a thing.”

 

For me this, along with standard usage, is ample authentication that Space and Time ought not conventionally be named ‘things’: they are relational existents (not a type of isolatable entity/event).

 

 

Onto nominalization of an adjective: does the spatial or the temporal move us further away from reality?

 

On 6/4/2019 at 9:51 PM, MisterSwig said:

Time refers to the measurements of motions. Temporal refers to the characteristics of those measurements. And the temporal still refers to the characteristics, but imagines them as if they could exist separately in objective reality from the things that actually exist with those characteristics.

 

I don’t think the temporal entails separation from objective reality.

The temporal is real, not merely imagined.

What the term the temporal does is light upon the real relational characteristic of time (measurement of motion), that’s all.   

 

But, if these terms are conveying some other unreal realm, then I’d concede that they aren’t for you (although I’d reflect on why you are allowing perfectly objective terms to do that).

 

You rightly points out that my terms are less common grammatical forms, thus an additional hurdle to overcome.

Fair enough, but if they ever did become more commonly used, then the discontinued words ‘space’ and ‘time’ by contrast might take on an old-fashioned air of concretization, and we might even wonder why they were ever employed in the first place).

 

 

 

Grames…

Good — out of stuffy old grammar and back into the physical stuff of my original question…

I think I agree with your encapsulation (if I get what you means about space/time as hardwired abstractions from entities, ‘fundamentally’ dynamic fields and virtual particles).

 

Apt link too — I had watched David Tong's talk some time ago and I suspect that it had influenced my framing of the fundamentals in physics, including this forum topic.

(I was also particularly interested in Tong’s answer to the first question in the Q&A — “I see no evidence for discreteness”. Yet I wonder if that alone amounts to evidence for a continuum?)

 

 

 

Fundamentally, is there only ‘spacetime’? ~ Topic round-up

The titular question itself needed unwrapping.

A clarified version:

Could the mechanics of the universe be adequately described using a dynamic conjunction of space and time (‘Macken Spacetime’) — without referring to any extra ‘stuff’?

 

Or, in other words…

Is existent stuff ‘resultant’ from a dynamically interacting triangulation:

1. Space (the spatial)

2. Time (the temporal)

3. Spacetime entities — reification of space/time dynamics into various yet integrated forces, masses, gravity, etc.

 

I think this remains a fascinating question because it's so utterly counterintuitive  — not to be dismissed lightly (and only through science).

 

NB for those who want more correlated nuttiness, here’s a link to my whimsical ‘working-out’ blog where I play around with an analogy for spacetime ~ grayness defined by black and white (and vice versa).

 

2019_06_06-_-Blobby-Quantum-Field.gif.55dda57aab8f363851c008031a42b7fb.gif

do the lava-lamp jive

(but I’d wager that there are no absolute gaps between the ‘negative’ blue and ‘positive’ yellow in this spacetime vacuum)

 

Perhaps because the original question was lackadaisical, not much of an answer to “is there only spacetime” has so far shone through. I was really hoping for some direct engagement with Macken’s ideas (which had spurred my original question), especially from the lurking physicists. As is customary there have been a few scenic detours (some my fault) into blackholes, the continuum, an unoccupied ‘there’, grammatical hindrances, etc. Yet this forum has been a really helpful process for focusing, forging, challenging and shifting my ideas — so thank you everyone (in order of appearance)…

StrictlyLogical,

EC,

MisterSwig,

SpookyKitty,

Doug Morris,

Grames,

Boydstun,

merjet,

Eiuol,

pittsburghjoe.

 

 

I suggest we treat this forum topic as a preliminary foray into ‘spacetime as everything’ and end the provisional prologue here (perhaps linked to some future topic).

 

 

STOP!

 

Edited by A.C.E.
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