Constituting time

Objection: You say that nature is an instrument of freedom or spirit. Very well, so freedom or spirit has to account for some physical difference. But accounting for physical differences is exactly what energy does. So spirit must exert some sort of energy on the world. Taken in this way, your spirit is either an element in a physical system or causes no physical change.

Response: All physical theories have described nature as observer-dependent. Aristotle said that time required soul for its full logos; Newton and Einstein made motion and rest contingent on the observer’s stipulation of a background; and QM allows no natural entities except actually measured ones. What we call “nature” in any physical theory is not an absolute totality into which observers interrupt but a melange of subjective and objective factors. The activity of spirit is thus present from the beginning and physical law is realized only in what is constituted by spirit.

Said another way: to say we intervene in nature at some given time is to miss that time itself is already an objective-subjective melange. We’ve gotten so used to imagining time as a line or a division of the clockface that we forget that time requires counting (and act of the soul) from something remembered (another) to something either remembered, perceived, or anticipated. Separate places are both equally actual in a way separate times can never be. We can stretch the tape-measure across a surface and read the number at the end without having to remember where the hook-end is anchored, but time is not like this.

This why, even under the hypothesis that all of time is a single causal progression that is utterly determined, we are still free since the whole of time is must already be understood a constituted by spirit and so as able to be integrated with it. In constituting time, spirit can use any determined necessity to bring about a free action in the same way that it can use the necessity of an explosion to propel a bullet. The world at any given time has the structure it does because spirit needed it to be that way to attain its ends.



  1. RP said,

    September 29, 2016 at 8:20 am

    Don’t be so sure place and space are different than time and motion: completed by the mind. Laying down the tape is a measurement in the same way as a clock: an act of the observer. Both time and space change in Relativity and events can be looked at from either point. For example, the change in the half-life of a particle moving at near light speed.

    • September 29, 2016 at 9:02 am

      This is a paradigm case of following Maritain’s advise of distinguishing in order to unite – time measurements are different at the first level of experience from measurements of space, but the space measurement is on closer analysis dependent on a temporal element since the two points one measures must be simultaneous. If not, you would be twenty feet taller after going upstairs. But establishing simultaneity is the birth of Relativity.

      • RP said,

        September 29, 2016 at 12:43 pm

        “The theory that enables this reversal of perspective is called shape dynamics. Its main principle is that all that is real in physics is connected with the shapes of objects, and all real change is simply changes in those shapes. Size means nothing, fundamentally, and the fact that objects seem to us to have an intrinsic size is an illusion.” At:

        But besides this, what does length mean to angels or God? Certainly they know reality better than we can in “our way of knowing.”

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