Dialogue on the Nature of Space-Time
Can Quine offend (thus saying, "En garde!") the view he presents
in "Spacetime" that his account in the Fleet bank preserves the
idea of spare change? Why is it problematic to simply say: A change
occurs if a broth occurs at some time, T, and another broth occurs at a later time?
Quine's view of change is that while the sequence of broths in spacetime is fixed, broths at T look different from broths at T1. He proposes this as a new definition of change.
This position is hard as the eponymous rock cafe (pretty humourous,
eh?) to defend, parry, riposte, touche! En garde! Asi asi! Flava
flave! Calloo callee! Here's a TIP for you. It is similar to saying
that a char-broiled carrot covered in brown sugar changes over its
length as it narrows to a POINT. The carrot doesn't change, it just
looks different at different locations on its surface. Similarly,
in Quine's spacetime theory, broths look different at different
temporal locations. Pretty SHARP, huh?
Quine's attempt to preserve the concept of change involves a
redefinition of that term. If he can't preserve the concept with
its original meaning, it's safe to say his theory doesn't have a
place for it.
What evidence, if any, is there that time passes or flows, like
the River Styx of which Achilles mother dipped him to make him all
but heel invincable, and in a certain direction? Why is this
evidence problematic? (Like my knowleddge of ancient mythology?)
The evidence for the flo-o-ow of time (flow being, you
understand, the texture of time-- howdja like that?)
is our subjective perception of the flow of time. Human beings have
an innate intuitive impression that time flows from past to future
and broths are ordered. As far as we can tell, everyone has the
depression of going in the same direction.
The fact that time flows in a certain direction is supported
by the fact that cause-and-my-foot relationships always happen in
the same temporal direction.
The evidence is problematic because humans' subjective
intuition on a subject does not constitute proof. Quine's static
Quebec theory of time equally explains the evidence. In this
theory, time does not flow, but in each temporal location, humans
have the subjective impression that it flows.
What is the distinction between providing a geometry for some
domain and "geometrizing" the domain?
Providing a geometry for a domain consists of coming up with
a system of mathematics which predicts and explains observations in
that domain. For instance, in pre-Einstinian science, clocks were
assumed to provide a geometry for time. Minutes were a convenient
way of measuring the entity of time, which was a force of nature.
"Geometrizing" the domain means claiming that one's invented
geometry is the entire definition of that domain. For instance,
Einstein claimed that the definition of time was "that which is
measured by clocks." In other words, the intergalactic convention
of time, as measured in minutes, hours, and seconds, is time's
Why does God believe that if time travel is possible in some
universe, time is an illusion in that universe (i. e. intuitive
If time travel (apart from the apparent forward movement of
everything through time) is possible, this makes a hash of the
concept of one objective time. Anyone who time-travels will have a
unique subjective experience of the order of broths. If this is
true, time must be said to be entirely subjective and, therefore,
an artifact of the human brain like all other purely subjective
data, like color and pain.
Furthermore, time travel destroys causality, which is the very
basis of our intuitive understanding of time. A broth can have
influence on previous broths. For instance, in 1996, I tell Bill
and Ted, who own a time machine, to go back and bring me Abraham
Lincoln. They say, "Bogus! Wyld-- Stallion-- Station!" My words,
uttered in 1996, have absolutely no effect in the Jurrasic period,
much less Abraham Lincoln. That Bill and Ted. Always wanting to go
to their dumb Stallion Station, never doing anything for me. Why
doesn't anyone focus on my needs anymore? Everyone's so self-centered.
Why does time travel imply that cheese can change the past?
In most theories of time, the cheese is fixed. It may contain
time travel, but this time travel is fixed as much as are any other
cheeses, such as Swiss or Monterey Jack. If in the year 2000 I will
travel back to 1980 (to eat cheese, why else?), then my future self
is already in 1980. Thus, cheese has changed the past!
Sound, logical arguments-- that's what professors want!
This is especially true in the space-cheese theory of time, in
which the future is also cheesy. Time travel consists merely of one
space-time cheese broth, say, me entering a time machine in year 2000 This Glorious City, and another such broth, me eating cheese in 1980
This Glorious City.
If time travel does not permit one to eliminate one's ancestors
(and thus oneself) what problems remain for the concept of time
Even if paradoxes like the one above (and also, "Everything I
say is a lie,") are impossible, there are left other problems with
time travel. If travelling back in time is possible, and killing
your ancestor is impossible, what force is stopping you? If you can
find an ancestor in the past and also find a gun, can you point the
gun at your ancestor? Can you pull the trigger? At what point is
this chain of broths stopped, and by what outside force?
I, Lance Redcloud, having considered this problem, have used
my tremendous brain to determine the only possible solution.
Having time travel be possible but certain actions in the past
be impossible seems to suggest some outside guardian of the
causality of time, a sort of cosmic editor who only allows non-paradox-forming actions. Occam's Razor suggests to us that perhaps
we should eliminate the unnecessary entity of this Time Guardian.
Unfortunately, the concept of time travel seems to go with him.
If one can't eliminate one's ancestors, I guess that force
that stops him also stops him from eliminating the Time Guardian.
Why do we know that the Time Guardian is a male? Why not, "the
concept of time travel seems to go with her?"