Freud, Russell, Ayer, time

Everybody’s Fall Break is through, at last. Time in CoPhi for Freud, Russell, Ayer, and Hugh Mellor on time (he says relax, it’s not “tensed”). [Freud and Russell @dawn]

Plus, presentations begin with Sara’s “Why Do We Dream?”– what would Freud say?– and essays are due. Busy days! How’m I gonna make time for the World Series? Guess I’ll gratefully reinvoke James’s example and “just take my moral holidays.”

Thanks in advance, class, for not asking when your papers will be graded. (And maybe I won’t ask when you’ll be posting those questions and comments that were supposed to go up on Wednesday and Thursday). Your patience will be rewarded, your impatience reviled.

A.J. (“Freddie”) Ayer, by the way, apparently had a Near Death Experience of his own. He claimed it in no way impinged on his atheism. But an acquaintance reported that “He became so much nicer after he died… not nearly so boastful. He took an interest in other people.” But again, Freddie denied that the experience made him “religious.” [continues here]

Back to the question of time: Mellor’s point is that time lacks objective tense (past, present, future), not that it is an illusion. This may take some time to grasp, for
 if you think of tense as a feature of the world, that is an illusion. [But] what is not an illusion is that we are in the world, and need to think about it, and especially about how to act in it, in terms of tense… time itself– tenseless time, what makes events earlier and later than each other– is indeed a real feature both of the world, and of our experience of it.
So does he agree with Einstein, who said “the separation between past, present, and future is only an illusion, although a convincing one,” or not? Yes and no.
Time and again, time after time, the intersection of philosophy and physics is maddeningly inconclusive. Add history to the mix and you get logic-defying paradox. The Vulcan Science Directorate has determined (will determine?) that time travel is impossible. But apparently that just goes for this actual universe, at this point in time. Hmmm. Logic aside, however, it’s at least biologically impossible to go into the past and annihilate your own forebears. That should be reassuring, though of course it would destroy a lot of amusing plot-points in film and fiction (not to mention Trek).
BTW: we might want to use this topic as a springboard back to Nietzsche and his strange notion of eternal recurrence. And what about Deja Vu, all over again? Have we all been here before? Well, that would imply the real existence of tense, wouldn’t it?
Does your head hurt yet, Geordi? Or yet again?
In EEA we’ll discuss Willie’s presentation on veganism, Van Jones’s Green Collar Economy, Billy Parish’s “Climate Generation,” and Mike Tidwell’s paradoxical advice to “stop going green” (but not really)… if there’s time.
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