The incomplete now : why time must be indivisible

Daniell, Matthew (2013). The incomplete now : why time must be indivisible PhD Thesis, History, Philosophy, Religion and Classics, The University of Queensland.

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Author Daniell, Matthew
Thesis Title The incomplete now : why time must be indivisible
School, Centre or Institute History, Philosophy, Religion and Classics
Institution The University of Queensland
Publication date 2013
Thesis type PhD Thesis
Supervisor Phil Dowe
Gerard Milburn
Total pages 189
Total black and white pages 189
Language eng
Subjects 0206 Quantum Physics
0299 Other Physical Sciences
2203 Philosophy
Formatted abstract
Discrete time has, rightly, not generally been taken very seriously with the standard conceptual framework for understanding reality. I say ‘rightly’ only because when fully understood, discrete time seems like nonsense or an impossibility from the perspective of our common sense experience of time. Yet perhaps the standard conceptual framework which is assumed is incorrect. In this thesis I will present an understanding of the nature of time which demands a questioning of reductionism and therefore challenges this framework. Empirically and philosophically I will show this is an inadequate conceptual framework for describing and understanding reality. In particular, I outline from empirical observation how strong emergence, and the phenomena of Quantum Entanglement can support a conceptually irreducible reality. Philosophically I argue, contrary to the claims of Jeremey Butterfield in particular, that strong emergence and reduction can’t be reconciled by use of the N→∞ limit, because ultimately a subjective leap is made from the behaviour of the parts to a property of the whole when taking this limit. I suggest rather that a non-reductionist view of reality is therefore necessary.

These empirical and philosophical arguments for a non-reductionist reality means that a continuously divisible time cannot be real, as such a model of time requires reductionism. I then claim therefore that for a reality which is composed of irreducible processes, which consequently define the properties of time, that all the information required in the “now” is not existent from taking a “sum” over all of the present moments (“parts”) comprising this now. This new now analogously likened to the whole which is “greater than” the sum of its constituent parts. This implies that the now must be considered as an indivisible whole, and time must therefore be indivisible. The concept of random, potential change has first to be postulated as a fundamental principle of reality and is central to the arguments I make.

The implications of the claim that time is non-divisible are then investigated. These implications must be investigated first, as I argue that the idea of a discrete time is a conceptual nonsense. Furthermore discrete time cannot simply be assumed from a successful discrete quantum theory. Instead, I propose a new way to think about the flow of time, one that involves discontinuous change. Thus change itself must be examined. Consequently I claim that time must be redefined as the updating of the information of the state of a system and its realisation. I argue that statistical processes are necessary for this view of time, and indeed for genuine change. A broader implication of these claims is that Eternalist theories of time must be questioned.
Keyword Time

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Created: Mon, 31 Mar 2014, 15:32:16 EST by Matthew Daniell on behalf of Scholarly Communication and Digitisation Service