Stephen Paul King wrote:

Dear Jesse,


Stephen Paul King wrote:

No, I disagree. The mere a priori existence of bit strings is not enough to imply necessity that what we experience 1st person view points. At best it allows the possibility that the bit strings could be implemented. You see the problem is that it is impossible to derive Change or "Becoming" from Being. Think of this in terms of thermodynamics, if we assume a universe that is in perfect equilibrium there will never be any possibility of a deviation from such equilibrium unless we introduce some mechanism to "disturb" it. If we use the mechanism of a "quantum fluctuation" then we are forced to introduce some kind of "potential to change" into a structure that by definition has none.
This has long been a problem for thinkers trying to understand the notion of Time. Unless we assume some form of change or Becoming as existing a priori to time and that out notion of Time is a "local" measure of change, we are forced to construct ideas where we ask questions like how fast is a second. We end up with a Time_ 1 to measure the rate of change that is somehow different from the usual time (Time_0) and this, in turn, would have to have a Time_2 and thus a Time_3, etc.- an infinite number of times, each to measure the rate of change of the one below it.

Why do you need to believe that there is any "change" at the ultimate level at all?


Honestly I have not problem at all with the idea that at the "Ultimate" level of existence any notion of a measure of change, i.e., time, vanishes. It is then we consider that there is no differentiation that occurs over the continuum between that Ultimate level and the Physical level that I am trying to speak.

But what does "physical level" even mean, if universes or observer-moments are just elements of the set of all mathematical forms, as many on this list believe?

The idea of "block time" has always seemed plausible to me, where events in the future and past (or various parallel futures and pasts, from a multiverse point of view) are just as real as events at other spatial locations in a single moment (and relativity suggests that there is no unique definition of the 'present moment' anyway). This point of view is discussed in a nice article from Scientific American by physicist Paul Davies:



The problems that I have with the "block time" idea are exactly the same as the problem that I have with COMP, that a pre-specified orchestration or harmony, as Leibniz proposed in his Monadology, exists that is both necessary and sufficient to explain the inescapable "flow" that we experience.

"orchestration or harmony" between what and what? Like I said, we needn't believe the physical world is something separate from the Platonic realm of mathematical forms.

Where does the notion of "running a polynomial number of steps" occur in a realm that is Timeless Being?

If you take the "B series" view of time by McTaggart that Davies discussed in his article, you can just imagine a list of numbered operations of a Turing machine which exists timelessly, without the notion that any step is specially marked out as the one that is happening "now". The number of steps would just be the length of the list.

The idea that "solutions" exists to these problems as Platonic forms in itself does nothing to address how these solutions are communicated. Do you recall that Plato himself had to invent the notion of "noesis" to give a name to the idea that somehow, by some mysterious means, our finite and imperfect minds somehow could connect to the Perfect and Timeless Forms.

But Plato did not consider the possibility that there is no "physical realm" outside of the Platonic realm--that we ourselves, and the universe we live in, are just Platonic forms.

I have tried to explain the problem of "block time" in several posts, here on the Everything-list and on the F.o.R. list, the idea of block-time simply ignores the fact that a "block space-time" - the notion from which "block time" is derived

What's the difference? I thought that "block time", "block spacetime", and "block universe" were all synonymous.

- required that at least the initial or the final boundary of such a "block" have associated with it definite physical quantities, such as the positions, momenta, spin, charge, color, etc.

What do you mean by "initial boundary"? Like the Big Bang singularity? Why would the boundary have to have these properties?

I am familiar with Davies' ideas, I have read every one of his books and found them self-aggrandizing and lacking in original content.

Well, I didn't link to that article because it contained any original ideas by Davies, but just because it contained a good review of the block time vs. flowing time issue.

For one thing, his statement "Nothing in known physics corresponds to the passage of time." really bothers me; who among us believe that the "known physics" is complete and omniscient?

Sure, but that's why he was careful to say "known physics" rather than just "physics".

We still do not have a good and predictively falsifiable quantum gravity theory published!

No, but I think most physicists, not just Davies, would consider it fairly unlikely that any future theory of quantum gravity will violate Lorentz-invariance and introduce a preferred reference frame. Here's a discussion from an article on the problems with ether theories posted on sci.physics.relativity at :

"Symmetry in SR is a rich and varied topic. The basic symmetry of SR is
Lorentz invariance, and the essence of SR is encapsulated in the
statement that the laws of physics are locally Lorentz invariant (i.e.
unchanged under the operation of any member of the Lorentz group). This
is an instance of the modern approach to symmetries: a symmetry principle
states that something remains unchanged when a specific type of operation
is performed. Note that Einstein's original two postulates for SR are
both symmetry principles.

"Einstein was instrumental in bringing the importance of symmetries to
the forefront of modern physics, and SR is an excellent example of the
power of symmetry groups in determining the possible structure of
physical laws: considerations of group theory alone plus the simple
observation that pion beams exist are sufficient to derive the
equations of SR. In addition, an assumption of Lorentz symmetry and
the guess that electrodynamics is the simplest possible gauge theory
is enough to derive the Maxwell's equations. Symmetry principles are a
very powerful (nay indispensable) tool in modern theoretical physics.

"And none of the ether theories contain such a symmetry as a fundamental
part of the theory (LET has an "accidental" Lorentz symmetry, but it is
not a principle of the theory). It is highly doubtful that any of the
modern theories of physics would have been discovered without the
symmetry principles of SR leading the way -- modern gauge theories are
direct descendants of the geometrical description of SR; this includes
both GR and the Standard Model. Such a geometrical description is not
possible in any ether theory (geometry is inherently coordinate
independent, but the ether is not). "


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