Time and Space

This post brought to you by my participation in the local atheist group, and my recent lack of interest in blogging:

Time and space are concepts that describe the relationship between particular entities. It is meaningless to speak of time or space outside of the entities they relate. In particular, in is meaningless to speak of something being “outside” or “prior to” the universe.

The universe is the set of all entities. To say that “something” is outside the universe means that there is “something” – an entity – that is outside the set of all entities. This a contradiction, of course, since that “something” must be part of the universe, and therefore cannot be outside it. Rather, the universe is an expanding balloon of relativity (with a radius of ~13 billion light years) within which time and space are meaningful concepts.

Time is a measure of the rate of change between entities in relation to a frame of reference. There is no “absolute” time independent of a frame of reference. (For example, we usually measure time as a relation to the rate of earth’s rate of rotation and revolution around the sun..) Time is therefore only applicable to a universe with multiple entities and changing relationships between those entities. It’s therefore impossible to attribute time or space to a singularity (the pre-big bang state) or say that something existed “prior” to the singularity.

For similar reasons, it is contradictory to speak of “multiple” universes. A universe is the set of all existents which are causally related to each other. If entities are not causally related, then they cannot be “aware” of each other, and therefore cannot engage in any relationships, including those of time and space. If we cannot be aware of such entities, then any such proposition must by definition be arbitrary. Thus, if there are dimensions other than those we are currently familiar with, they must be merely conceptually differentiated causal chains, not “separate universes.”

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

One Response to Time and Space

  1. Anaki

    I find this paragraph interesting, because you’ve come to a pretty tumultuous conclusion:

    “To say that “something” is outside the universe means that there is “something” – an entity – that is outside the set of all entities. This a contradiction, of course, since that “something” must be part of the universe, and therefore cannot be outside it.”

    What you have just stated is what a logician would call Russell’s Paradox, named for Bertrand Russell who formulated it 1901. The paradox shows that set theory (which is foundational to logic, then mathematics, then physics, then chemistry, etc.) has an inherent problem. If you construct a problem where you have to make a set of all sets (which you’re defining as the universe, being the set of all “somethings”), that set must be a part of the set itself. In other words, it is impossible to make a set of all sets because as soon as you do it must be included in the “universal set”. The funny thing is that Russell himself thought that a solution would present itself for this problem, but to this day there have been only a few unsatisfactory attempts.

    I don’t think you realize the power of the contradiction you have unearthed. It is a fracture in the very foundations of “human reason”. It demonstrates that even logic (which I have studied in depth) cannot sufficiently explain all that we perceive.

    Apart from the mathematical and scientific consequences, this idea has tremendous importance in philosophy. Such movements as utilitarianism, modernism and objectivism have relied almost exclusively on the use (or more accurately “abuse”) of logic and mathematics. Not only does Russell’s Paradox question the foundations of movements like these, it also challenges the very ideas of objectivism and subjectivism, two polarized movements that have occupied philosophy since people had the capacity to conceive of such notions.

    I also suggest that you familiarize yourself with Gödel’s Theorem of Incompleteness. It takes these notions that I have briefly illustrated and applies them to all systems of reasoning. Gödel finds that any system developed by people will have the same inherent problem of incompleteness due to foundational problems.

    There was a post reply elsewhere on your site where someone praised human reason and how awe inspiring it was. While I am not contesting that there are some accomplishments to reason’s credit, this kind of thought lacks humility and respect for its errors. I would suggest reading more philosophy beyond “The Fountainhead” and “Dr. Leonard Peikoff Sings Ayn Rand’s Greatest Hits (again and again)”.

    In your own words: “This a contradiction, of course, since that “something” must be part of the universe, and therefore cannot be outside it.”

    Perhaps there are some contradictions in your own life that you should reflect on.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *