Philosophy of Space and Time

Nucleus of light


Philosophy of space and time is the branch of philosophy concerned with the issues surrounding the character of space and time. The philosophy of space and time was both an inspiration for and a central aspect of early analytic philosophy. The basic issues were whether or not time and space exists independently of the mind, whether they exist independently of one another. What accounts for time's apparently unidirectional flow, whether times other than the present moment of NOW exist. There questions about the nature of identity particularly the nature of identity over time.

Ancient and medieval thoughts.
The earliest philosophy of time was expounded by the ancient Egyptian thinker Ptahhotep (c. 2650–2600 BC), who said: "Do not lessen the time of following desire, for the wasting of time is an abomination to the spirit." The Vedas, the earliest texts Hindu philosophy dates back to the late 2nd millennium BC, describing ancient Hindu cosmology. The universe goes through repeated cycles of creation, destruction and rebirth, with each cycle lasting 4,320,000 years.

In Book 11 of St. Augustine's Confessions, he ruminates on the nature of time, asking, "What then is time? If no one asks me, I know: if I wish to explain it to one that asketh, I know not." He settles on time being defined more by what it is not than what it is.

Plato, identified time with the period of motion of the heavenly bodies, and space as that in which things come to be. Aristotle, in Book of Physica defined time as the number of change with respect to before and after, and the space of an object as the innermost motionless boundary of that which surrounds it.

In contrast to ancient Greek philosophers who believed that the universe had an infinite past with no beginning, medieval philosophers and theologians developed the concept of the universe having a finite past with a beginning. This view was inspired by the creation belief shared by the three Abrahamic religions: Judaism, Christianity and Islam. The Christian philosopher, John Philoponus, presented the first such argument against the ancient Greek notion of an infinite past. His were adopted by many including, most notably, early Muslim philosopher, Al-Kindi ; the Jewish philosopher, Saadia Gaon ; and the Muslim theologian, Al-Ghazali .

They used his two logical arguments against an infinite past,
the first being the "argument from the impossibility of the existence of an actual infinite",
"An actual infinite cannot exist."
"An infinite temporal regress of events is an actual infinite."
"An infinite temporal regress of events cannot exist."

The second argument,
"An actual infinite cannot be completed by successive addition."
"The temporal series of past events has been completed by successive addition."
" The temporal series of past events cannot be an actual infinite."

Both arguments were adopted by later Christian philosophers and theologians, and the second argument in particular became more famous after it was adopted by Immanuel Kant in his thesis concerning time. In the early 11th century, the Muslim physicist, Ibn al-Haytham or Alhazen, discussed space perception in his Book of Optics. His experimental proof of the model of vision led to changes in the way the visual perception of space was understood. In "tying the visual perception of space to prior bodily experience, Alhacen unequivocally rejected the intuitiveness of spatial perception and, therefore, the autonomy of vision. Without tangible notions of distance and size for correlation, sight can tell us next to nothing about such things."

What is Time


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