Monday, April 17, 2017

my conversations with Prince

my conversations with Prince over social media somewhere he put up a picture and said write a caption. this was his way of saying: tell me what you think of me. i didn't write a caption but he was also on twitter for a brief time. his twitter account/feed was not permanent (which is consistent with his way of doing things). paraphrasing, he said something like (I will quote from one of his lines) Prince: 'rave unto the joy fantastic with dr. love' me: "you should get checked out you might be bi-polar" (or something close) Prince: ':-)' or something thereabouts--I remember he liked the bipolar joke. me: "Prince is utterly superficial" yes I wrote that to him. mental illness was involved you don't need the details. Prince: 'why you want to bring down someone who's found his joy' that is a paraphrase except for the word 'his'. that struck me as amazing--after all that he accomplished and was known for he used the word 'his' as if to say: I'm just another person, no better or worse than anyone else, with his own personal taste. that was completely amazing to me. later that day he divined what I was getting at and he tweeted a line from one of his songs: Prince: "we claim Miles Davis not Michelangelo". that blew me away too. he was a pop-Mozart, but he knew he was not a classical musician. and he's right--his music is about as deep as Miles Davis's (I mean this in a good way). he was the hardest working artist in modern times and has thousands of unreleased songs and videos. so I said me:"5000 songs released at 10 per year he b releasing songs for 500 years" (or something almost exactly the same). Prince: "It's not about the money it's about the gold". this is just amazing and also blew me away. I will not cheapen it by explaining it. others were tweeting him too. Prince: 'many of you have said you are lonely. but how can you be lonely when God is with you?' (or something very similar). and this, too, blew me away. if God is always with you then you are never alone and therefore not lonely. but it must be admitted he was around people all the time (except for a day or two here or there) so he would naturally not be lonely (in the superficial sense) anyway (though he was probably lonely in the deeper sense). Prince: 'people are asking me what the answer [to their life] is. I don't know' (or similar). Prince's answer for himself was music (which unfortunately proved insufficient in the end) but he didn't have the answer for everybody--one has to find it for one's self, if possible. Rest In Peace

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

B + D series interpretation

B + D series interpretation of quantum mechanics. in the D-series past, present, future only, one event in the future is not more future than any other future event and a probability distribution must be given, where predicted probabilistic evolution respects the temporal/causal B-series.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

As technology advances and advances and advances, in the future we will all be gods.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

The sentence 'the way green appears to me is ██' has the truth-value (T, i). (that's a patch of green)
Time can go by at a rate of 1 second per supersecond. It might be that in quantum mechanics the time of a system can go by at i seconds per supersecond.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Qualia Logic to Temporal Logic

Qualia Logic to Temporal Logic In classical propositional calculus a sentence may be mapped to truth values T or else F. Suppose we want to communicate what it is like to experience quale. Qualia are ineffable and lie beyond the resources of language. So they are neither true nor false. Take the state of affairs of making an assertion and experiencing a quale. Give it the truth value (T, i) or else (F, i) (i for ineffable). If p is ineffable and q is either T or F then p-and-q is ineffable too. If p has truth value (T, i) and q has truth value (T, i) then p-and-q has truth value (T, i). Etc. I might give the sentence p = “I am aware of the color green and it is pretty.” truth value (T, i). However another person cannot verify the truth value. Thus the truth table for qualia is contextual. One application of this logic is to start with a theory about the qualia of experiencing temporal becoming, apply the logic of qualia, and see what logic of time results. (1)

Relational Ontologies

It might be possible to combine Rovelli's Relative Information interpretation of quantum mechanics with Leifer's "Bit from It" interpretation of quantum mechanics. This would yield a "Relational Ontologies" interpretation where the primitive ontology of a quantum system is given only relationally, i.e. relative to another system. Rovelli: Leifer:

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

qualia logic to temporal logic?

Use Priest's logic of the ineffable (1). Construct the logic of qualia. Now consider the qualia of temporal becoming. Can we recover temporal logic? (1)

Sunday, September 22, 2013

There are some definitions of 'contextual that apply in quantum mechanics and some that don't. The Amplituhedron is interesting.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Monday, June 17, 2013

MultiContext Logics Fausto Giunchiglia1,2 Joint work with Chiara Ghidini2,3 1ITC-IRST - Trento, Italy 2 DISA - University of Trento, Italy 3 Manchester Metropolitan University, UK Massimo Benerecetti 1998-11-02
A *context* is Ci = where Li is a formal language Omegai a set of facts (axioms) Deltai a set of inference rules involving formulas in Li Massimo Benerecetti 1998-11-02

Friday, June 14, 2013

Contextual ontology is the correct interpretation of quantum mechanics. How does this help the physicist-on-the-street? It may be for example that, say, a muon does not have to respect symmetry group S absolutely. It would be enough that it respect S from the perspective (frame of reference) of, say, a proton, while respecting symmetry group T from the perspective of an electron.
The result Alice gets for one (quantum) measurement may depend on the particular (quantum) measurement Bob makes at a spacelike separation (this is one form of contextuality in quantum mechanics). Now, what if Alice is in one black hole and Bob is in another black hole? (well, to start with, is spacelike separation well-defined in this case?...)

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Correlations, Contextuality and Quantum Logic

J Philos Logic (2013) 42:483–499 DOI 10.1007/s10992-013-9272-8 Correlations, Contextuality and Quantum Logic Allen Stairs · Jeffrey Bub Received: 28 February 2010 / Accepted: 13 February 2011 / Published online: 2 April 2013 © Springer Science+BusinessMedia Dordrecht 2013 Abstract Quantum theory is a probabilistic theory that embodies notoriously striking correlations, stronger than any that classical theories allow but not as strong as those of hypothetical ‘super-quantum’ theories. This raises the question ‘Why the quantum?’—whether there is a handful of principles that account for the character of quantum probability.We ask what quantum-logical notions correspond to this investigation. This project isn’t meant to compete with the many beautiful results that information-theoretic approaches have yielded but rather aims to complement that work. Keywords PR-Box · Polytope · Convex set · Logic · Quantum logic

Friday, June 7, 2013

Non-locality is Not Non-locality

Non-locality is Not Non-locality. Things in the quantum world are not, strictly speaking, non-local. To be non-local in the way the word is usually used there must be a correlation that occurs through some non-zero distance in space. But, by the relevant generalization of the Kochen-Specker theorem, a quantum system simply does not possess the property of location-in-space. Rather, space is a context property of the system and the measuring/observing apparatus system. The system is neither local nor non-local but undefined. It ontologically does not possess the property of location as defined by the measuring system.
The Journal of Philosophical Logic, June, 2013, has a lot of stuff about quantum logic in it. Reading...

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Local Models Semantics or Contextual Reasoning = Locality + Compatibility Fausto Giunchiglia1,2 Joint work with Chiara Ghidini2,3 1ITC-IRST - Trento, Italy 2 DISA - University of Trento, Italy 3 Manchester Metropolitan University, UK Needed: application to quantum mechanics (see below), the intransitive model of time, the logic of qualia, and the formulation of a 'universal' or 'perfect' or God-like perspective...
Suppose one dimension of time looks like the Real line, and a second dimension of time is made of irreducible durations. Something like this happens in quantum mechanics--one evolves the current system along points on the line and one uses durations in using functionals to sum up amplitudes. I'll read the previously mentioned contextual logic papers soon-ish.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

The Objective Conception of Context and Its Logic CHRISTOPHERMENZEL Department of Philosophy, Texas AhIM University, College Station, Texas 77843-4237 U.S.A. (email: Abstract. In this paper, an “objective” conception of contexts based loosely upon situation theory is developed and formalized. Unlike “subjective” conceptions, which take contexts to be something like sets of beliefs, contexts on the objective conception are taken to be complex, structured pieces of the world that (in general) contain individuals, other contexts, and propositions about them. An extended first-order language for this account is developed. The language contains complex terms for propositions, and the standard predicate ‘ist’ that expresses the relation that holds between a context and a proposition just in case the latter is true in the former. The logic for the objective conception features a “global” classical predicate calculus, a “local” logic for reasoning within contexts, and axioms for propositions. The specter of paradox is banished from the logic by allowing ‘ist’ to be nonbivalent in problematic cases: it is not in general the case, for any context c and proposition p, that either ist(c,p) or ist.c;:p/. An important representational capability of the logic is illustrated by proving an appropriately modified version of an illustrative theorem from McCarthy’s classic Blocks World example.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

I haven't read this yet: Contextual logic for quantum systems Graciela Domenech ∗1 and Hector Freytes 2 February 1, 2008 1. Instituto de Astronom´ıa y F´ısica del Espacio (IAFE) Casilla de Correo 67, Sucursal 28, 1428 Buenos Aires, Argentina 2. Escuela de Filosof´ıa - Universidad Nacional de Rosario, Entre R´ıos 758, 2000, Rosario, Argentina Abstract In this work we build a quantum logic that allows us to refer to physical magnitudes pertaining to different contexts from a fixed one without the contradictions with quantum mechanics expressed in no-go theorems. This logic arises from considering a sheaf over a topological space associated to the Boolean sublattices of the ortholattice of closed subspaces of the Hilbert space of the physical system. Differently to standard quantum logics, the contextual logic maintains a distributive lattice structure and a good definition of implication as a residue of the conjunction. PACS numbers: 03.65.Ta, 02.10.-v
On Quantifier Domain Restriction Jason Stanley and Zoltan Gendler Szabo Abstract: In this paper, we provide a comprehensive survey of the space of possible analyses of the phenomenon of quantifier domain restriction...

Monday, May 27, 2013

Finally somebody understands what I'm doing: putting crazy or reasonable ideas out there that may be outside of the loop to get things going.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

"Quantum mechanics reveals that the hunt of a universal perspective for describing physical reality is in vain." --Vassilios Karakostas

Realism and Objectivism in Quantum Mechanics

1 Forthcoming in Journal for General Philosophy of Science 2012 (Vol. 43, Issue 1) Available at: 012-9173-5&cm_mmc=event-_-articleAuthor-_-onlineFirst-_-0 Realism and Objectivism in Quantum Mechanics Vassilios Karakostas∗ Abstract. The present study attempts to provide a consistent and coherent account of what the world could be like, given the conceptual framework and results of contemporary quantum theory. It is suggested that standard quantum mechanics can, and indeed should, be understood as a realist theory within its domain of application. It is pointed out, however, that a viable realist interpretation of quantum theory requires the abandonment or radical revision of the classical conception of physical reality and its traditional philosophical presuppositions. It is argued, in this direction, that the conceptualization of the nature of reality, as arising out of our most basic physical theory, calls for a kind of contextual realism. Within the domain of quantum mechanics, knowledge of ‘reality in itself’, ‘the real such as it truly is’ independent of the way it is contextualized, is impossible in principle. In this connection, the meaning of objectivity in quantum mechanics is analyzed, whilst the important question concerning the nature of quantum objects is explored.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Is there only inter-subjective reality or is there an objective reality independent of the embodiment of perspective? A statement of either one can be formulated in logical terms. That statement can then be formulated in terms of physical laws, and sought experimentally.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Tim Maudlin on the existence of time:

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

There exists a 3-rd person perspective w is something like

I would like to highlight the observation that

I would like to highlight the observation that there may be no way to know if Alice's green is the same qua qualia as Bob's green. If qualia ontologically exist then there may be no (ontological) fact of the matter as to whether they are the same. In this case the assumption of an objective perspective from which truths may be derived about the world must be dropped, and contextual ontologies become appropriate. There is a formal theory of contextual logic (different domains of the for-all quantifier are labeled by selected subjects of the theory), that hasn't been exploited yet.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Thursday, March 7, 2013

'A Companion to the Philosophy of Time'

 'A Companion to the Philosophy of Time'
(Wiley-Blackwell, 2013)--edited by Adrian Bardon and Heather Dyke

From the Back Cover:

The philosophy of time has been a central area of concern for
philosophers for thousands of years. It remains one of the most active
areas of academic philosophy, but the study of time has never been
more dynamic and interdisciplinary than now. A Companion to the
Philosophy of Time presents the broadest coverage of this subject yet;
32 specially commissioned articles - written by an international
line-up of experts - span the history of the philosophy of time,
contemporary philosophical issues in the nature and reality of time,
and contemporary philosophical issues in the experience and perception
of time.

The Companion takes a tripartite approach in its structure; the first
section features essays on the development of the philosophy of time
from the pre-Socratic period through the 20th century, and comprises a
unique collection of essays devoted to the history of the philosophy
of time. The second and third sections are divided into reflections on
the physics and metaphysics of time, and the human experience of time.
Throughout the Companion, essays reflect the close partnership between
philosophy and the natural sciences in the study of time. The
resulting work provides an unparalleled work of reference for students
and specialists alike in this exciting field.

PART I: The History of the Philosophy of Time

1. Heraclitus and Parmenides
Ronald Hoy

2. Zeno’s Paradoxes
Niko Strobach

3. Aristotle on Time and Change
Andrea Falcon

4. Determinism, Fatalism and Freedom in Stoic Philosophy
Ricardo Salles

5. Creation and Eternity in Medieval Philosophy
Jon McGinnis

6. Newton’s Philosophy of Time
Eric Schliesser

7. Classical Empiricism
Lorne Falkenstein

8. Kant and Time-Order Idealism
Andrew Brook

9. Husserl and the Phenomenology of Temporality
Shaun Gallagher

10. The Emergence of a New Family of Theories of Time
John Bigelow

11. The B-Theory in the 20th century
Josh Mozersky

PART II: Time as a Feature of the Physical World

12. Time in Classical and Relativistic Physics
Gordon Belot

13. Time in Cosmology
Chris Smeenk

14. On Time in Quantum Physics
Jeremy Butterfield

15. Time in Quantum Gravity
Nick Huggett, Tiziana Vistarini, and Chris Wüthrich

16. The Arrow of Time in Physics
David Wallace

17. Time and Causation
Mathias Frisch

18. Time Travel and Time Machines
Douglas Kutach,

19. The Passage of Time
Simon Prosser

20. Time and Tense
Heather Dyke

21. Presentism, Eternalism, and the Growing Block
Kristie Miller

22. Change and Identity over Time
Dana Lynne Goswick

PART III: Time as a Feature of Human Experience

23. The Perception of Time
Barry Dainton

24. Transcendental Arguments and Temporal Experience
Georges Dicker

25. Memory
Jorge Fernandez

26. Time in Mind
Julian Kiverstein and Valtteri Arstila

27. The Representation of Time in Agency
Holly Andersen

28. Temporal Indexicals
John Perry

29. Time – The Emotional Asymmetry
Caspar Hare

30. Evolutionary Explanations of Temporal Experience
Heather Dyke and James Maclaurin

31.Time and Freedom
Robin Le Poidevin

32. Time and Morality
Krister Bykvist

Friday, February 22, 2013

know-how vs. propositional knowledge

I'd say know-how and propositional knowledge are not reducible to each other.

Why Know-how and Propositional Knowledge Are Mutually Irreducible

David Löwenstein

The distinction between knowing how to do something and knowing that something is the case is a piece of common sense. Still, it has been suggested that one of these concepts can be reduced to the other one. Intellectualists like Jason Stanley (2011) try to reduce know-how to propositional knowledge, while practicalists like Stephen Hetherington (2011) try to reduce propositional knowledge to know-how. I argue that both reductionist programs fail because they make the manifestations of the knowledge to be reduced unintelligible. Contrary to both, I suggest that know-how and propositional knowledge are distinct, but conceptually interdependent.


Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Krauss answers one question but not another question

Krauss: quantum fluctuations imply nothing is unstable.

If we grant this we are using "nothing" in the quantum mechanical sense of the word. But then there is still the question of how to get quantum mechanics in the first place.

I think Smolin reduces the problem in some ways by suggesting the laws of physics have evolved over time to become as complicated as they are.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Listen to this by the Almighty Bach

Friday, December 14, 2012

The End of Reductionism?

In one of Susskind's many YouTube lectures he wonders if reductionism has come to an end.

The closer you look at X's, the more they seem to be made of Y's. What are Y's made of? The closer you look at Y's, the more they seem to be made of X's.

You can't reduce further than X's and Y's. This looks like non-wellfounded (set theory) behavior. Somebody should look into this.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

'exists relative to' may not be a transitive predicate

If pluralistic solipsism is true, then 'exists relative to' is not a transitive predicate. A exists relative to B and B exists relative to C do not entail A exists relative to C. This is also the way it is in Kip Fine's "fragmented reality", as well as the 'ontologically ineffable objects' of previous posts.

Now, I would emphasize that some (properties or objects?) are (ontologically) contextual. (We know this from the Kochen-Specker theorem.)

Friday, November 30, 2012

Smolin's requirements for explaining why our universe has the laws it does.

The idea discussed in previous posts satisfies Smolin's requirements for explaining why our universe has the laws it does.

There is a mathematical structure T that is a formal system such that 1. T contains the necessity modal operator and 2. T can refer to itself, and it satisfies the condition


i.e., T implies necessarily necessarily ... necessarily T exists.

T in some sense it has the most right to exist.

One still has to interpret time and quantum probabilities in this mathematical object.

The physical universe is identified with T. One looks for the structure (1) in the laws of the universe. It becomes an physical assertion that the existence of the universe is (maximally) necessary.

In Smolin's language T is in a post-Newtonian paradigm.

See previous posts.

"1) The Newtonian paradigm takes the dynamical law as input. It cannot be the basis
of explaining why that law is the one that applies to our universe. Hence to adopt
this paradigm as the framework of a cosmological theory will leave a great deal of
mystery in our understanding of the world. We will fail to fulfill the demand to give
sufficient reason for every cosmological question.
2) Similarly, the Newtonian paradigm takes the specification of the initial state as input.
It cannot justify or explain the choice of initial state. The demand for sufficient
reason will again not be answered.
3) The Newtonian paradigm assumes that there is an absolute distinction between the
role of state and the role of the dynamical law. This distinction can be operationally
realized on small subsystems because we can prepare a system many times in different
initial states and observe what aspects of the resulting evolution are universal
and what are consequences of the choice of initial state. The dynamical law is inferred
from observations of universal features of the motion which are independent
of the choice of initial state. When we come to the universe there is only a single
history and so we have no way to operationally or experimentally distinguish the
role of the law from the choice of initial state.
This can be a practical as well as a theoretical issue because there can be degeneracies
in cosmological models arising from the fact that a single observation can be
explained equally well by modifying the law of motion or the choice of initial conditions.
One sees examples of this in attempts to fit inflationary models to data such
as the possible non-guassianities[26].
4) Any theory formulated in the Newtonian paradigm will have an infinite number of
solutions. But, the universe is unique-so only one cosmological history is physically
real. The Newtonian paradigmis then very extravagant when applied to cosmology
because it not only makes predictions about the future of the one real universe, it
offers predictions for an infinite number of universes which are never realized. The
Newtonian paradigm cannot explain why the one solution that is realized is picked
out from the infinite number of possibilities."


A perspective on the landscape problem
Lee Smolin
Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics,
31 Caroline Street North, Waterloo, Ontario N2J 2Y5, Canada
February 16, 2012
I discuss the historical roots of the landscape problem and propose criteria for its
successful resolution. This provides a perspective to evaluate the possibility to solve
it in several of the speculative cosmological scenarios under study including eternal
inflation, cosmological natural selection and cyclic cosmologies.
Invited contribution for a special issue of Foundations of Physics titled Forty Years
Of String Theory: Reflecting On the Foundations.

non-trivial extrapolations

One measure of the value of a theory is how non-trivial it is as an extrapolation from more trusted theories.

See Susskind's Topics in String Theory, 8 and 9.

The main example is String Theory as an extrapolation of the Standard Model.

[One could put a metric on theory-space... 

Reverse-engineer the standard model to find the class of Calabi-Yau's that give rise to the particle spectrum...]

Susskind holds that it is not currently possible to find the probability that String Theory is right.

[I disagree, but if it's true String Theory is a trivial extrapolation.]  

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Free Will

Free will? If you murder someone because of physical laws I can put you in jail because of physical laws.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Friday, September 28, 2012

Pluralistic Solipsism

Pluralistic Solipsism

The present as an empirically testable hypothesis: a case study in reading physics as a part of the history of philosophy

Katherine Brading

University of Notre Dame

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Mark walks from a block-world to a presentist room

block-world--past, present, and future events all exist, like the parts of a spatially extended block
presentism--only things that exist in the present exist, and there is some notion of temporal becoming

Mark walks from a room described by a block-world into a room where presentism holds true. What, if anything, happens? 'When' does it happen? 

There are 3 cases:
case 1: time, outside of both rooms, is presentist
case 2: time, outside of both rooms, is block-world
case 3: neither case 1 nor case 2

Saturday, September 1, 2012

another physical arrow of time


"That revelation, which has been submitted for publication to Physical Review Letters, leaves no room for doubt: B-bars turn into B-minuses far faster than B-minuses turn into B-bars. As many as five B-minuses are produced for every B-bar. The chance of this result being a fluke is a nugatory one in 1043. Going forwards is thus not the same as going backwards, and time’s arrow really does exist."

Are there implications for blockworld/presentism?

Friday, August 24, 2012

Quantum from multi-timelines?

Suppose the universe is populated only with particles (or fields or strings) p1 and p2. Then p1 and p2 are the only embodied frames of reference in the universe. So suppose there is no disembodied, objective, 3rd-person notion of time that is independent of both p1 and p2. In this case, p1 evolves according to its own dimension of time t1, and p2 evolves along its own ontologically independent dimension of time, t2. There is no time parameter t that is external to p1 and p2.

Assume p1 and p2 start out as one system at t1 = 0 and t2 = 0, then they split into two particles each evolving according to their own independent dimensions of time, and interact again at t1 = 1 and t2 = 1. In the reference frame of p1, p2 does not evolve in time, i.e. t1 is not a parameter of the equations of motion of p2. Thus, p2 is not in a definite state for p1 in t1. At some time t1, say, t1 = .5, p2 is not in a classical state. If p2 were in a classical state in the frame of p1 it would be evolving according to t1, but it does not evolve in the dimension t1. And vice versa.

Then what happens with p2 from the perspective of p1? The particles interact at t1 = 0 and again at t1 = 1. But in between, p2 does not follow a classical path (as parametrized by t1). There is no information about which path p2 will have taken. Thus it could have taken any path. Before t1 = 1 all these paths are mere possibilities. That could be the origin of possibilities in quantum mechanics. And the possibilities could be origin of the additive probability amplitudes of quantum mechanics.

In the frame of p1, there is no classical path of p2 given by 


because there is no such t. In fact, there is no classical functional for the combined p1 and p2 system (there is no 'time' at which both p1 and p2 have a definite state, except for the endpoints). Instead there are non-classical possibilities from each particle's frame of reference given by, one hopes, the quantum amplitudes.

To Balasubramanian's third question, "Is there a connection between the existence of a time, and the quantumness of the universe?" [1] the answer of this proto-interpretation is yes.

[1] What we don't know about time, Vijay Balasubramanian, Essay for a special issue of Foundations of Physics commemorating "Forty years of string theory" arXiv:1107.2897v1 [hep-th].

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

(t, now) = ((t, now), now) = ...

Suppose a physical theory is parametrized by a time variable t. Considerations lead to a second dimension of time (or super-time/meta-time) when things 'really' are, t', and in fact there is an infinite sequence t'', t''' ... Since this phenomena is so common it's possible that it is a natural feature of time. This suggests a parametrization of the theory (t, nowt) instead, where

(1) (t, nowt) = ((t, nowt), nowt) = ...

The question then is what relations are there among the nowt for different values of t. These are discreet, infinite dimensions.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Mark walks into an A-theory room

Mark walks from a room whose time is a blockworld, into a room whose time is a form of presentism.

What happens?

Monday, July 2, 2012

A Possibility for the Logic of Belief in God


suppose the logic of belief in God is the same as the logic of "this statement is true".

(It's true if it's true, but false if it's false, though you don't have to try either hypothesis.)

After all, *both* sides of the issue claim to use induction. (e.g. 'I see God in everything' versus 'I see material causation everywhere').

Monday, June 18, 2012

Modal Interpretations of the Knowledge Argument and the Temporal Knowledge Argument

Modal Interpretations of the Knowledge Argument and Time

Two modal interpretations of the Knowledge Argument are

1. "McConnell (1994) defends the more radical view that the acquisition of knowing-how is normally accompanied by the acquisition of a particular new item of knowing-that." (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)

So Mary has one mode of knowing before she leaves the room, and two modes of knowing after leaving the room.

2. "White (2007) argues against Loar that the [materialist] account cannot explain the a posteriori character of mind-brain identity statements in a satisfying manner."

I. e. One can have knowledge of forms like "if pain p feels like such and such then Qp".

Two modal interpretations of the Temporal Knowledge Argument are

1. Mark has one mode of knowing before he leaves the room, the B times, and two modes of knowing after leaving the room (the B times, the B times and the genuine change of the A-series), Mctaggart (1908).

2. the A-theorist can have knowledge of forms like "if time t is present then Pt".

Saturday, June 9, 2012

A Knowledge Argument for Time


On being released from her black-and-white room into a colorful world it would seem Mary learns something new (the Knowledge Argument). On being released from his B-theory room into an A-theory world it would seem Mark learns something new (the Temporal Knowledge Argument). These thought experiments are parallel to each other and can inform each other.


For the purposes of this paper, I'll will use the A-theory of time, presentism (or at least the growing block universe), and the moving spotlight theory interchangeably. And I'll use the B-theory of time, the block universe, and eternalism interchangeably.

The A-theory holds that
(a) there is an ontologically distinguished Present (or at least a growing block),
(b) there is a real, irreducible process of temporal becoming

The B-theory/Eternalism holds that
(a) there is no objective flow of time
(b) time is a dimension ontologically like the dimensions of space
(c) present, past, and future are only indexical; there are no objective tensed facts

Consider the (ontological) Knowledge Argument, which was originally stated:

"Mary is a brilliant scientist who is, for whatever reason, forced to investigate the world from a black and white room via a black and white television monitor. She specializes in the neurophysiology of vision and acquires, let us suppose, all the physical information there is to obtain about what goes on when we see ripe tomatoes, or the sky, and use terms like ‘red’, ‘blue’, and so on. She discovers, for example, just which wavelength combinations from the sky stimulate the retina, and exactly how this produces via the central nervous system the contraction of the vocal chords and expulsion of air from the lungs that results in the uttering of the sentence ‘The sky is blue’.… What will happen when Mary is released from her black and white room or is given a color television monitor? Will she learn anything or not? It seems just obvious that she will learn something about the world and our visual experience of it. But then is it inescapable that her previous knowledge was incomplete. But she had all the physical information. Ergo there is more to have than that, and Physicalism is false." (Jackson 1982)

Compare that with the parallel time argument:

Mark is a brilliant scientist who is, for whatever reason, forced to investigate the world from a block universe via a block-universe's clock. He specializes in the neurophysiology of the perception of time and acquires, let us suppose, all the physical (block/eternalist) information there is to obtain about what goes on when we experience a present, or perceive a temporal becoming, and use terms like ‘past’, ‘future’, and so on. He discovers, for example, just how long Caesium hyperfine transitions are (the basis of atomic clocks), and exactly how this correlates with cyclic brain processes which produce via the central nervous system the contraction of the vocal chords and expulsion of air from the lungs that results in the uttering of the sentence ‘I am in the present and time is flowing’.… What will happen when Mark is released from his block universe (at, say, t = 10 min.) into a presentist, A-theoretic (or even growing block) universe or is given a moving spotlight television monitor? Will he learn anything or not? It seems just obvious that he will learn something about the world and our temporal experience of it (e.g. what an actual present and temporal becoming are like). But then is it inescapable that his previous knowledge was incomplete. But he had all the physical (block/eternalist) information. Ergo there is more to have than that, and Eternalism (and the B-theory) is false.

Major responses to the Knowledge Argument include
1. Mary could sufficiently imagine blue before leaving the room (Dennett 2007; Churchland 1989; Maloney 1985)
2. Mary acquired a new mode of presentation on leaving the room (Lockwood 1989; McConnell 1994; White 2007)
3. Mary learned something new on leaving the room (Raymont 1999; Chalmers 2002; Nida-Rümelin 2007)

Parallel responses to the Temporal Knowledge Argument would seem to include
1. Mark could sufficiently experience the A-series before leaving the block universe (A-theorists include Craig 2000; Crisp 2004; Forrest 2005)
2. Mark acquired a new mode of presentation on leaving the block universe (Meyer 2011; Muller 2011; Dieks 20071)
3. Mark learned something new on leaving the block universe (Le Poidevin 1991; Oaklander 1991; Saunders 2002)

Concepts used to understand Mary can be applied to Mark, and vice versa. 


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Churchland, P., 1989, “Knowing Qualia. A Reply to Jackson”, in A Neurocomputational Perspective: The Nature of Mind and the Structure of Science, Cambridge, MA: MIT, pp. 67–76.
Craig, W. L. 2000, The Tensed Theory of Time, Dordrecht: Kluwer.
Crisp, T. 2004, ‘On Presentism and Triviality’, in: D. Zimmerman, ed., Oxford Studies in Metaphysics: Volume 1, Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 15–20.
Dennett, D., 2007, “What RoboMary Knows,” in T. Alter & S. Walter (2007): 15–31.
Dieks, D., 2007, Probability in modal interpretations of quantum mechanics,” Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics, 19, 292-310.
Forrest, P. 2005, ‘General Facts, Physical Necessity and the Metaphysics of Time’, in: D.
Zimmerman, ed., Oxford Studies in Metaphysics: Vol. 2, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Jackson, F., 1982, “Epiphenomenal Qualia”, Philosophical Quarterly 32: 127–136.
Le Poidevin, R. 1991, Change, Cause, and Contradiction, London: Macmillan.
Lockwood, M., 1989, Mind, brain, and the quantum. Oxford: Blackwell.
Maloney, Ch., 1985, “About Being a Bat”, Australasian Journal of Philosophy 63 (1): 26–49.
McConnell, 1994, “In Defense of the Knowledge Argument,” Philosophical Topics 22 (1&2): 157–187.
Meyer, U., 2011 "Time and Modality," in C. Callender, ed., The Oxford Handbook of the Philosophy of Time.  Oxford University Press, 2011.
Muller, Thomas (2011) Branching space-times, general relativity, the Hausdorff property, and modal consistency. [Preprint at ]
Nida-Rümelin, M., 2007, “Grasping phenomenal properties,” in T. Alter & S. Walter  (eds.), 2007, Phenomenal Concepts and Phenomenal Knowledge. New Essays on Consciousness and Physicalism, Oxford: Oxford University Press. 307–349.
Oaklander, N. 1991, ‘A Defense of the New Tenseless Theory of Time’, Philosophical Quarterly, 41, pp. 26–38.
Raymont, P., 1999, “The Know-How Response to Jackson's Knowledge Argument”, Journal of Philosophical Research 24: 113–126.
Saunders, S. 2002, ‘How Relativity Contradicts Presentism’, in Callender (ed.), Time, Reality, and Experience, University of California, San Diego pp. 277–292.
White, St. L. 2007, “Property Dualism, Phenomenal Concepts, and the Semantic Premise,” in T. Alter & S. Walter (eds.), Phenomenal Concepts and Phenomenal Knowledge. New Essays on Consciousness and Physicalism, Oxford: Oxford University Press. 210–248.
1 Modal interpretations of quantum mechanics are prominent, and time in quantum mechanics is both a parameter and an operator, justifying it's inclusion here.