The Moving "Objective Present"


http://listserv.liv.ac.uk/cgi-bin/wa?A1=ind0911&L=chora#64

[Adhanom Andemicael]
In order for an entity to exist concretely, the entity must exist at the "present moment of time." Entities that exist in the past or the future do not exist concretely.

Let us consider the following two statements:

A) There exists an objective, three-dimensional world.
B) There exists an objective present moment of time.

In order for statement A to be true, statement B must be true.

Is statement B true? Does there exist an objective present moment of time?

We know that the mind experiences its own subjective present (i.e., its own phenomenal present). It is clear, therefore, that there exists a subjective present moment of time. However, it is not at all clear that there exists an objective present (i.e., a present that exists independently of the mind).

[Danny Frederick]
Hi Adhanom,

There is an ambiguity in your (B). It is a familiar one. What does the 'present moment' mean? Is it an indexical that picks out a particular time that we could date? Or is it a general property that applies to any moment at the time that it is present? The existence of an objective extended temporal dimension implies your (B) in the first case but not in the second. To put it another way, if time is objective (as an extended dimension) then any particular point in time (or minimally extended temporal span) is objective; therefore the present moment (let's say noon on 24 November 2009) is objective. But someone could admit this even if he denies that there is any such thing as temporal presence (the now).

[Adhanom Andemicael]
One way of conceiving of time is as follows:

There is an "objective present." This present moves (somehow) from one date to the next (e.g., from Jan. 1, 2000 to Jan. 2, 2000). When the present arrives at Jan. 1, Jan. 1 comes into existence. When the present arrives at Jan. 2, Jan. 2 comes into existence. (As soon as the present moves from Jan. 1 to Jan. 2, Jan. 1 ceases to exist.)

In this conception, it is not clear what the "objective present" actually is. Whatever the present is, it is something that is capable of moving from one date to the next.

If this moving, objective present does not exist, dates (e.g., Jan. 1, Jan. 2, etc.) cannot exist. (They cannot exist because they can never posses the property of being present.)

***

In my messages, I make reference to the "objective present" and the "objective present moment of time." Please note that I'm referring to the moving "objective present" described above.

***

[Danny Frederick]
To put it another way, if time is objective (as an extended dimension) then any particular point in time (or minimally extended temporal span) is objective; therefore the present moment (let's say noon on 24 November 2009) is objective.

[Adhanom Andemicael]
"12:00 PM, 24 November 2009" is a "location in time." (Note however that the "objective present" is not a "location in time.")

[Adhanom Andemicael]
The "objective present" moves from one "location in time" to another. However, a "location in time" remains fixed at a particular "location in time."

***

[Danny Frederick]
I think your (A) was badly formulated, which is why I have not referred to it. Did you mean to say 'four-dimensional world'?

[Adhanom Andemicael]
No. Here is statement (A) again:

"A) There exists an objective, three-dimensional world."

***

[Adhanom Andemicael]
The following is a slightly altered version of the message I posted on Nov. 23. I use the term "objective present" in this version. Please note that I'm referring to the moving "objective present" described above:

***

In order for an entity to exist concretely, the entity must exist at the present. Entities that exist in the past or the future do not exist concretely. (Past and future entities are less real than present entities.)

Let us consider the following two statements:

A) There exists an objective, three-dimensional world.
B) There exists an objective present.

In order for statement A to be true, statement B must be true.

Is statement B true? Does there exist an objective present?

We know that the mind experiences its own subjective present (i.e., its own phenomenal present). It is clear, therefore, that there exists a subjective present. However, it is not at all clear that there exists an objective present (i.e., a present that exists independently of the mind).

***

[Adhanom Andemicael]
I discuss subjective time flow in my paper "Temporal Passage":

http://home.att.net/~Andemicael/intro.html

***

[Danny Frederick]
So someone can accept your (A), that there exists an objective three-dimensional world, while denying your (B), that there exists an objective present (in your sense of 'objective present'). Someone who did that would be denying that anything exists concretely in your sense; but he would still accept that there are objective existents (past, present and future). Basically, he would say there is a B-series but no A-series (have I recalled those terms correctly?); he would say that there is temporal order but no temporal passage. On this view tenses would be indexical expressions that could be eliminated without loss by means of 'eternal sentences.'

[Adhanom Andemicael]
Please note that in statement A, I'm talking about a concrete, objective, three-dimensional world. (I'm sorry I wasn't clear about this.)

In my last posting, I wrote:

"Let us consider the following two statements:

A) There exists an objective, three-dimensional world.
B) There exists an objective present.

In order for statement A to be true, statement B must be true."

However, I should have written:

"Let us consider the following two statements:

A) There exists a concrete, objective, three-dimensional world.
B) There exists an objective present.

In order for statement A to be true, statement B must be true."

***

[Adhanom Andemicael]
If there is no "objective present," there can be no concrete, objective world.

Many B-theorists claim that there is no "objective present." Yet they maintain that there is a concrete, objective world.

***

[Danny Frederick]
So someone can accept your (A), that there exists an objective three-dimensional world, while denying your (B), that there exists an objective present (in your sense of 'objective present'). Someone who did that would be denying that anything exists concretely in your sense; but he would still accept that there are objective existents (past, present and future). Basically, he would say there is a B-series but no A-series (have I recalled those terms correctly?); he would say that there is temporal order but no temporal passage. On this view tenses would be indexical expressions that could be eliminated without loss by means of 'eternal sentences.'

[Adhanom Andemicael]
Okay.

***

[Adhanom Andemicael]
Dates that lack the property of being present are unreal.
B-series dates lack the property of being present.
Dates in this series are therefore unreal.

(Note: B-theorists claim that dates in the B-series are real.)

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