[ExI] Bad Epistemology?

Technotranscendence neptune at superlink.net
Mon Jul 16 10:07:35 UTC 2007

On Monday, July 16, 2007 12:58 AM Eliezer S. Yudkowsky
sentience at pobox.com wrote:
>> I'm sure happy to hear that after many centuries
>> of debate -- going back to the Ancients -- that
>> Barbour has finally and definitively settled the
>> issue.  :)  No one here, I trust, would accuse him
>> of being a sophomaniac...
> On the one hand, I know the theory (timeless physics)
> lacks definitive experimental proof, as yet.
> On the other hand, an irrevocable ratchet has ticked
> forward in my brain; I am no longer capable of
> conceiving what a "timeful" universe would be like.
> It is not so much that Barbour convinced me of his
> viewpoint but that he rendered me incapable of
> seeing the universe in any other way.

>From what little I understand of Barbour's ideas -- mainly gleaned from
interviews and reviews -- it does not strictly seem like he's really
positing a timeless universe, but more a different view of time -- and
not necessarily, it seems to me, a new one.

That Barbour has "rendered" you "incapable of seeing the universe in any
other way" -- other than his way -- seems to me to be a problem you must
overcome.  :)  You might supplement your reading of him with reading
Sklar's classic _Space, Time, and Spacetime_, Earman's _World Enough and
Space-Time_, and the Oxford reader _The Philosophy of Time_.

(Incidentally, Lee mentioned substantivalism as if this were meant to be
a void theory.  Actually, it seems that substantivalism seems to really
end up meaning not that there's a vacuum but that space has a structure
or has properties independent of matter.  In a sense, to me, that means
space is something rather than nothing...  But let's look at this
another way.  Even if substantivalism is talking about space regardless
of what's in it, this need not mean that since "all is plenum" that
substantivalism is wrong.  Substantivalism would merely be talking about
the structure of space as abstracted from the relations between objects
in it.  Sklar seems to make a good case in the above book for
substantivalism being right in a way Newtonians and their relationists
critics didn't grasp...)



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