I hope to hear what you guys think of this post, I’m sure there is at least one doubt-worthy premise, but I thought it was a least an interesting topic. In this post I want to first show how phenomenology identifies false problems by breaking perceptual inputs into pieces and wholes. Next I want to apply this to time by using some of Einstein’s basic re-workings of time and space. Because of this, I hope to show that theories of time must directly deal with space too. One of my favorite things about phenomenology is its ability to identify false problems. By analyzing how the world appears to us, phenomenology provides a way of seeing the world free of intentionality, free of our day-to-day tacit assumptions. This is important because it helps us to see that reality and experience do not always match up they way we would expect them to.One way to analyze experience is to understand it in terms of wholes and its parts. Wholes can be broken down to pieces and moments. Pieces can exist on their own and moments can not. Take a tree for example, it can be broken down into different pieces, branches, leaves, bark, etc. A moment of this would be the color of it’s leaves, the smell of the sap, etc. These things are moments because they exist in the context of that tree at that time. Something to note about the perception of wholes is the fact that when we perceive a whole something, our perception is never complete. Even if I could somehow see the tree from all angles I would never perceive all of it at once. I can’t see the inside at the same time as the outside, for example.At that point I couldn’t help but to consider some of the topics that were being discussed in my Metaphysics class. One of which is the many problems involving time. John McTaggart’s essay, ‘Time is Not Real’ cites two ways of thinking about time which causes a major problem: The A-series and the B-series. The A-series is what one could call past, present, and future talk. Talking about time in this way would be equivalent to saying that event X will happen two days in the future and that event Y has happened three days ago. The B-series is more concrete, it makes use of reference points with earlier that and later than phrases. Event X happened earlier than event Y. By closely examining these he is able to show that neither give a totally acceptable view of time. I am not going to go into his whole argument because it is sufficient for this post to just identify an issue with time.
So it remains to be asked: Can space and time be broken down into pieces or moments?So far, physics seems to be suggesting that space and time are not two separate things, rather there is just space-time. This is a consequent of Einstein’s idea that we live in the 4th dimension. The three dimensional world would be just lenght, height, and width, but Einstein added time into our understanding of the universe. Considering this phenomenologically, it would seem that space-time is the whole. When an object with a considerable gravitation field comes into the picture space-time is warped. Black holes change the nature of time and space, for example. The effects never happen to just space or just time, it is always both. This effect was predicted by the theory of relativity (although Einstein never actually thought blackholes were real) and I think it suggests the necessary connection between the two. If this is true then space and time would have to be moments unto each other.
I would argue that McTaggart makes a false problem by treating time as a whole. If they are both moments unto each other, then no theory about time should talk about time alone. Without an explicit inclusion of space, and theory of time would always be missing something.
Anyone who has read any of the essays about think that I have could object to my claim by asking a simple question. Doesn’t any philosopher of time (McTaggart, Mellor, Aristotle, Newton, et al.) aways refer to space in their essays? Of course how could they not refer to some spacial element. However, in terms of theory making and normative claims about time, space is never explicitly mentioned. Perhaps it has been tacitly included by all of these authors, but this is not enough…at least not enough for me. If you want your theory to work for space-time, then it ought to make reference to both. Moreover, most of the suggested problems only use elements of space to describe the ‘effects’ of time, not how they two work together.