-We visualize time as a backdrop or context or container – things are said to occur in it. Newton draws out the logic of this idea with his absolute time, or the time in virtue of which any clock could be corrected. In the same way that we can line up a hundred sticks and see how much they deviate from absolute equality of length, we can line up any set of periodic events and see how they compare to absolute uniformity.

-But time is not a context but a sort of exhaust product of a form in matter. It’s not a single stream all bodies are drawing from, but diverse streams coming out of the bodies themselves which combine and interact in various ways. This is why time, like space, has only a relative value. Just as change in space has no value except relative to some other specified body serving to give location, change in space has no value except relative to some other specified body serving to give it uniform temporal parts.

-We can discover various constant rules for the combining of these exhaust streams, and in this sense there is a “universal time”. This does not make time a context.

-We want rules of combining a product or effect with other products. This explains how relativity both allows for time to be longer or shorter (when it combines) and yet stay exactly the same for the one producing it. Put Alexander’s whole world on a spaceship travelling away from the rest of the earth at light speed and then coming back. As far as he is concerned, he lives the same 33 years he ever lived, even if the moment he dies his world opens to show everyone left behind much older.


1 Comment

  1. Will Farris, PhD cand. Phil of Religion said,

    February 1, 2016 at 8:53 am

    One big question: is time (or space) causal? The accepted criterion for concreta vis-a-vis abstracta is that concreta is causal in some way. The corollary is that abstracta is purely mental and does not really exist (nominalism). But time and space certainly exist but are not causal, it would seem. Thus, time and space are abstract and yet real. Realism has support from at least these ideas about reality.

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