Friday, April 20, 2012

A Knowledge Argument for Time

The (ontological) knowledge argument: Mary knows all the physical facts knowable concerning human color vision before her release from a black-and-white room. Upon release she experiences color, e.g. a tree with green leaves, for the first time and says 'wow!'. The question is did Mary acquire any new information upon release?

"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 possible. Ergo there is more to have than that, and (a type of) Physicalism is false." (to paraphrase how it's put in the Stanford Encyclopedia

The parallel temporal argument: Xerxes knows all the knowable facts concerning time before his release from a block-world room. Upon release he experiences 1. an ontologically privileged present, and 2. temporal flow, for the first time, and says 'wow!'. The question is did Xerxes acquire any new information upon release?

Clearly most B-theorists and Block-worlder's would answer 'no', paralleling Materialists, and most A-theorists and Presentists would answer 'yes' paralleling Dualists.

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