Category Archives: Philosophy

Presentism: Lightening Brainstorm of Time Theories

[With quick break to look up script for Spaceballs!]

I was reading an interesting theological article about time and eternity. It starts with defining three theories or ontological views of time: Presentism where only the present is real, Growing-block where the past and present are real but the future is not, and Eternalism where the past, present and future are all real.

I have not studies this issue in depth although the seeming impossibility to a solution intrigues me.

I naturally lean towards the third, Eternalism, only because the first two are so overly problematic. However, looked at from a non-theological view, Eternalism seems an impossible concept. Is there any meaningful way to say the future is in any way real? What would that mean? I predict that upon further inquiry finding a meaningful way to say that would make Eternalism the winner of the three – if these three exhaust the possibilities. Note: I didn’t see offered a view that only the present and the future are real.

I have trouble imagining an argument where the past (with its memories, artifacts, etc) could be said not to be real but the future that has not occured yet would be.

So, the reason (on surface reflection) I would tend toward Eternalism is that the first two choices are really the same choice. And that is because of the deficiency of Presentism. It is comically represented (sort-of) in Mel Brooks’ 1987 Star Wars spoof Spaceballs (I love this scene!)

INT. SPACEBALL 1 – SPACE HELMET, SANDURZ, and CORPORAL are watching
the radar.

HELMET (mask down) Have you found them yet?

CORPORAL No, Lord Helmet. They’re still not on the scanners.

HELMET Well, keep looking for them. (drinks coffee through his mask)

SANDURZ Pardon me, sir. I have an idea. Corporal, get me the video
cassette of Spaceballs-the Movie.

CORPORAL Yes, sir.

CORPORAL walks to a wall labeled, “Mr. Rental.” The wall
opens. He looks through the selections.

HELMET Colonel Sandurz, may I speak with you, please?

SANDURZ Yes, sir.

HELMET (lifts up mask) How could there be a cassette of Spaceballs-
the Movie. We’re still in the middle of making it.

SANDURZ That’s true, sir, but there’s been a new breakthrough in
home-video marketing.

HELMET There has?

SANDURZ Yes. Instant cassettes. They’re out in stores before the
movie is finished.

HELMET Naaaaa.

CORPORAL Here it is, sir. Spaceballs.

SANDURZ Good work, Corporal. Punch it up.

CORPORAL starts the tape. It starts on the FBI Warning.

SANDURZ Started much too early. Prepare to fast-forward.

CORPORAL Preparing to fast-forward.

SANDURZ Fast-forward.

CORPORAL Fast-forwarding, sir.

Starts fast-forwarding through the ludicrous speed scene. Helmet is
thrown into the panel at a high-speed.

HELMET Nnnnno. Go past this, past this part. In fact, never play
this again.

SANDURZ Try here. Stop.

The movie stops at the exact same thing that is actually happening
now. HELMET looks at the camera, then he turns back to the monitor.
SANDURZ looks at the camera when HELMET looks back at the monitor,
then he looks back at the monitor. HELMET looks at the camera when
SANDURZ looks back at the monitor. When HELMET turns back, he waves
his hand. He turns back to the camera.

HELMET What the hell am I looking at? When does this happen in the
movie?

SANDURZ Now. You’re looking at now, sir. Everything that happens
now, is happening now.

HELMET What happened to then?

SANDURZ We passed then?

HELMET When?

SANDURZ Just now. We’re at now, now.

HELMET Go back to then.

SANDURZ When?

HELMET Now.

SANDURZ Now?

HELMET Now.

SANDURZ I can’t.

HELMET Why?

SANDURZ We missed it.

HELMET When?

SANDURZ Just now.

HELMET When will then be now?

Presentism is stuck in a paradox of Zeno trying to Continue reading

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The Value of Hume

I was, during a break, thinking a bit of C.S. Lewis’ On Miracles, when I had a sudden bit of potential integration that I can do nothing with at the moment. In one of the early chapters he is talking about the limits of experience. This was in relation to a naturalist approach to universal explanation. Basically how wide the naturalist abstraction is compared to the personal evidence that can conceivably support it.

As a philosophy with any positive value, Hume’s seems out the gate to be a piece of mud. However, mud has its uses. His shattered, fractured universe is quite useful when we think about the edifices that people stand on unknowingly. How much is assumed, unexamined, unexplained, even unrecognized, from one instance to the next instance.

Immanuel Kant was, historically, the man who attempted to put Humpty Dumpty back together after Hume busted him up…

Few people go through life terrified that the car they are traveling in will suddenly cease to exist right out from under them, or that the ball they are throwing will turn into a dragon and burn them where they stand. But why shouldn’t these things happen? If these things do not happen, surely, some lesser things of the same nature happen all the time? Should we fear that they could happen but just haven’t, at least not in our personal experience?

Why not? These are pretty easy questions in philosophy. Or, rather, such questions have been part of philosophy for millennia. But what about whole world-views? What part of it is blind faith on the part of the holder? And how much is derived from things they can actively demonstrate?

What can one stand on? How much of your views of the world, of the nature of things, of people, politics, right and wrong can you account for? And how much of it is words put together without referent, without ground?

I think most people would be astounded to find there is very little they can account for. And little of that they can piece together. What is your experience of a house but the Continue reading