Time as we grasp it….or not….
The concept of time has been studied for centuries. Is it the fourth dimension, as some argue? How would the fourth dimension be shaped? There are two main theories on that: likely either flat or circular. If we could travel through time, would we be frog-hopping back and forth along a time road? Or would we be diving into a circular spiral and trying to land on a specific moment?
Are events in time static, or can they be changed? In H.G. Wells The Time Machine, The Time Traveller tries to go back in time to save his fiance. But no matter how many times he goes back, she dies because without her dying, there would be no reason to invented the time machine. Had he saved her, then he would have had no need to build the time machine he used to save her. Sidenote: he actually caused her to die rather awfully a number of times instead of just the one. Not a pleasant thought. Here’s another thought: if each moment in time can be gone back to and changed (or not), does that mean that each moment really does last forever? When we say, ” I wish this moment would never end,” it actually doesn’t? Am I, in some dimension, running endlessly under a blue sky among the autumn leaves?
Another dividing point between philosophers is whether time is even an entity in and of itself. Newtonian time–based on Sir Isaac Newton’s theory–is that time is a “fundamental structure of the universe-a dimension independent of events, in which events occur in sequence.”* In this theory, it should be possible to travel among the events independently, if such a machine could be constructed. The opposing theory is that time is not a “container that events and objects ‘move through’, nor to any entity that ‘flows’.”* This point of view, espoused by Gottfried Leibniz and Immanuel Kant, looks at time as a human construction that we use to sequence events. As such, it would not be able to be travelled through from event to event.
As you might have noticed, there are many questions in my post today. I am not quite sure which theory I most agree with. I like the idea that time travel is possible. (Although I think that the idea is rife with awful possibilities, as we humans can’t seem to help messing with things we really ought to leave alone.) It is hard to wrap my mind around all the concepts involved in time. I do like that idea that somewhere, all my best moments are continuing endlessly.
Which theory do you agree with?