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RE: [neoplatonism] Relativity and Neoplatonism

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  • Clark, Stephen
    I don t know why Thomas is so outraged by Michael Chase s dismissing the idea that the Greeks feared time . That claim - which does seem to have many avatars
    Message 1 of 4 , Oct 1, 2012
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      I don't know why Thomas is so outraged by Michael Chase's dismissing the idea that "the Greeks feared time". That claim - which does seem to have many avatars and supporters - can be criticized on many levels: who are "the Greeks"? What is the "time" we are talking about? What is it to "fear" whatever time that is? Why adopt psychoanalytical explanations for what may have serious metaphysical reasons?

      Some Greek-speakers expected that the future would be very much like the past. Some went further and suggested that it would be identical with the past, in form and even possibly in number (that is, that there could be no way of distinguishing successive repetitions, and that they might as well be considered the same thing - we live both after and before the one and only Trojan War, not merely before and after "a" Trojan War or a very similar war with another name). Does this count as "fearing" the notion of unending and unrepeating change? Or is it a matter of sadly accepting that the possibilities are finite, and so - in endless time - bound to be repeated? Or just experience?

      Some Greek-speakers thought that "change" (and difference in general) was an illusion: "really" there was only the one eternal being, misleadingly perceived by us. Does this count as "fearing" the notion that some thing or episode could be lost entirely into non-being? Or is it simply acknowledging that to be is always to be present? Nothing is essentially "distant", but only "distant from the speaker". Similarly nothing is essentially "past" or "yet to come", only earlier or later than the speaker.

      Some Greek-speakers thought that though everything was always changing here in the world of our perceptions that very fact revealed the abiding existence of real presences which were sometimes present in (or reflected in) this world here and sometimes not. Does this count as "fearing" the notion that our words - even our words describing change - have no settled meaning, and that "really" all we can rightly do is gesture (actually, not even that: who are the "we" that is gesturing, what is there stable enough to count as what is gestured at, and why suppose that anything follows from whatever gesture?).

      Some Greek-speakers, on the other hand, thought otherwise.

      As to the supposed incompatibility of relativity theory (with its implication that there is no absolute simultaneity) and the notion of a Presence to whom all events and entities are equally present (as in Boethius, Aquinas et al), I don't see that this is anything but a misunderstanding of the notion of such a Presence (and of the theory of relativity itself). The orthodox claim is not that God knows everything that is happening "now" (that is, on 1st October 2012 at 11.12 BST, as if that clock-time were stretched out everywhere) but that God knows all that happens everywhere and everywhen, and all its manifold relations to everything else. That is, temporal succession is something that we have to live with, but that we should not suppose has any implications for the relative unreality of "past" and "future". Quite the opposite: since what is past or future from one finite perspective is present for another with equal authority, all times and places are Present (which is what orthodox theology said anyway). Thomas briefly suggests that God, being "outside time" (and I take it that what is meant is the abiding Present I've just gestured towards), can't be "omniscient": it's an argument - though I don't think he actually spells it out (have I missed something?) - that some have found compelling, but that I don't myself understand - crudely, God doesn't "know" that my colon surgery is "over", but that's because, in the eyes of eternity (which is to say, the truth), it isn't! It's just something that is earlier than the local time at which I type these words (and God eternally knows this).

      I haven't read Grim's book - I'll try and look out for it - but it sounds from Thomas's account rather like Kenneth Denbigh's Inventive Universe. The issue has more recently been discussed (he takes - on a quick inspection - a different line from me) by William Lane Craig, arguing against Brian Leftow's eternalist ideas.

      The Christian notion that there will, in some sense, be a final end of time, or of the temporal-perceptual world, or that at least that world will be (eternally is?) transmogrified or resurrected into the eternal, may be at odds with other mythoi, found all over the world (and repeated in much modern theoretical cosmology), that everything begins again, whether or not identically, or that this world must be abandoned if we are ever to attain the eternal. But what any of this means in plain language I am not sure! I am sure that it's not worth getting so heated about it.

      Stephen Clark

      ________________________________
      From: neoplatonism@yahoogroups.com [neoplatonism@yahoogroups.com] on behalf of Thomas Mether [thomas.r.mether@...]
      Sent: 30 September 2012 23:08
      To: neoplatonism
      Subject: [neoplatonism] Relativity and Neoplatonism



      Mr Chase is fond of citing scientists names without going into and
      evaluating what they actually have said plus whether they are right or
      wrong.

      1. Several of the ones he named are avowed atheists who claim (and there is
      a long trail of debate on this in the academic literature outside
      classical, religious, or ancient philosophy studies -- which plays into the
      economic why have these programs if they are like flat-earth studies )
      relativity disproves both neoplatonism and any theism if either involve
      omniscience. Note: the assumption in their shared argument is that the
      divine (however defined) can't be omnisciently in relation to the world if
      relativity is true and if such divine is not in relation to the world, it
      is not omniscient since knowledge is a relation and knowledge - 1 is
      non-omniscience.

      2. Logically and mathematically, in order to be the source of our universe,
      the argument goes, omniscience presupposes a "universal now" to know the
      entire state of what is happening now in the universe. Relativity says this
      is impossible because there is no universal now. If one tries a gambit that
      the divine source is "outside and timeless", then the consequence is
      twofold: such a source can neither be omniscient nor omnipotent (the all).

      When I get the time over the next few days, I will start posting quotes of
      "malarky" as Chase has it from the very sources he cited.

      2. He fails to mention, perhaps because he is unread in the literature, of
      a raging debate over whether relativity theory's extension of geometry
      (spatial relations) to time (hence becoming a fourth dimension 90 degrees
      from all 3D spatial dimensions) is a pragmatically useful and metaphorical
      device (thus Einsteinian relativity theory is not to be taken literally) or
      taken literally in both physics and contemporary philosophy of science
      literature.

      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]






      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
    • dgallagher@aol.com
      I believe Thomas s apparent anger was provoked by Michael s characterization of his {Thomas s] earlier post as a load of malarky ; malarky suggesting the
      Message 2 of 4 , Oct 1, 2012
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        I believe Thomas's apparent anger was provoked by Michael's
        characterization of his {Thomas's] earlier post as "a load of malarky"; malarky
        suggesting the accusation of intent to deceive. The outrage, I believe, has more to
        do with wounded ego than the substance of the respective arguments
        involved. Malarky is a malignant word which appears to have metastasized in this
        instance. I pray the affected parties will "cut it out".

        David Gallagher



        In a message dated 10/1/2012 6:25:34 A.M. Eastern Daylight Time,
        srlclark@... writes:





        I don't know why Thomas is so outraged by Michael Chase's dismissing the
        idea that "the Greeks feared time". That claim - which does seem to have many
        avatars and supporters - can be criticized on many levels: who are "the
        Greeks"? What is the "time" we are talking about? What is it to "fear"
        whatever time that is? Why adopt psychoanalytical explanations for what may have
        serious metaphysical reasons?

        Some Greek-speakers expected that the future would be very much like the
        past. Some went further and suggested that it would be identical with the
        past, in form and even possibly in number (that is, that there could be no
        way of distinguishing successive repetitions, and that they might as well be
        considered the same thing - we live both after and before the one and only
        Trojan War, not merely before and after "a" Trojan War or a very similar
        war with another name). Does this count as "fearing" the notion of unending
        and unrepeating change? Or is it a matter of sadly accepting that the
        possibilities are finite, and so - in endless time - bound to be repeated? Or
        just experience?

        Some Greek-speakers thought that "change" (and difference in general) was
        an illusion: "really" there was only the one eternal being, misleadingly
        perceived by us. Does this count as "fearing" the notion that some thing or
        episode could be lost entirely into non-being? Or is it simply acknowledging
        that to be is always to be present? Nothing is essentially "distant", but
        only "distant from the speaker". Similarly nothing is essentially "past" or
        "yet to come", only earlier or later than the speaker.

        Some Greek-speakers thought that though everything was always changing
        here in the world of our perceptions that very fact revealed the abiding
        existence of real presences which were sometimes present in (or reflected in)
        this world here and sometimes not. Does this count as "fearing" the notion
        that our words - even our words describing change - have no settled meaning,
        and that "really" all we can rightly do is gesture (actually, not even
        that: who are the "we" that is gesturing, what is there stable enough to count
        as what is gestured at, and why suppose that anything follows from whatever
        gesture?).

        Some Greek-speakers, on the other hand, thought otherwise.

        As to the supposed incompatibility of relativity theory (with its
        implication that there is no absolute simultaneity) and the notion of a Presence to
        whom all events and entities are equally present (as in Boethius, Aquinas
        et al), I don't see that this is anything but a misunderstanding of the
        notion of such a Presence (and of the theory of relativity itself). The
        orthodox claim is not that God knows everything that is happening "now" (that is,
        on 1st October 2012 at 11.12 BST, as if that clock-time were stretched out
        everywhere) but that God knows all that happens everywhere and everywhen,
        and all its manifold relations to everything else. That is, temporal
        succession is something that we have to live with, but that we should not suppose
        has any implications for the relative unreality of "past" and "future".
        Quite the opposite: since what is past or future from one finite perspective
        is present for another with equal authority, all times and pl aces are
        Present (which is what orthodox theology said anyway). Thomas briefly suggests
        that God, being "outside time" (and I take it that what is meant is the
        abiding Present I've just gestured towards), can't be "omniscient": it's an
        argument - though I don't think he actually spells it out (have I missed
        something?) - that some have found compelling, but that I don't myself
        understand - crudely, God doesn't "know" that my colon surgery is "over", but
        that's because, in the eyes of eternity (which is to say, the truth), it isn't!
        It's just something that is earlier than the local time at which I type
        these words (and God eternally knows this).

        I haven't read Grim's book - I'll try and look out for it - but it sounds
        from Thomas's account rather like Kenneth Denbigh's Inventive Universe. The
        issue has more recently been discussed (he takes - on a quick inspection -
        a different line from me) by William Lane Craig, arguing against Brian
        Leftow's eternalist ideas.

        The Christian notion that there will, in some sense, be a final end of
        time, or of the temporal-perceptual world, or that at least that world will be
        (eternally is?) transmogrified or resurrected into the eternal, may be at
        odds with other mythoi, found all over the world (and repeated in much
        modern theoretical cosmology), that everything begins again, whether or not
        identically, or that this world must be abandoned if we are ever to attain the
        eternal. But what any of this means in plain language I am not sure! I am
        sure that it's not worth getting so heated about it.

        Stephen Clark

        ________________________________
        From: _neoplatonism@yahoogroups.com_ (mailto:neoplatonism@yahoogroups.com)
        [_neoplatonism@yahoogroups.com_ (mailto:neoplatonism@yahoogroups.com) ]
        on behalf of Thomas Mether [_thomas.r.mether@..._
        (mailto:thomas.r.mether@...) ]
        Sent: 30 September 2012 23:08
        To: neoplatonism
        Subject: [neoplatonism] Relativity and Neoplatonism

        Mr Chase is fond of citing scientists names without going into and
        evaluating what they actually have said plus whether they are right or
        wrong.

        1. Several of the ones he named are avowed atheists who claim (and there is
        a long trail of debate on this in the academic literature outside
        classical, religious, or ancient philosophy studies -- which plays into the
        economic why have these programs if they are like flat-earth studies )
        relativity disproves both neoplatonism and any theism if either involve
        omniscience. Note: the assumption in their shared argument is that the
        divine (however defined) can't be omnisciently in relation to the world if
        relativity is true and if such divine is not in relation to the world, it
        is not omniscient since knowledge is a relation and knowledge - 1 is
        non-omniscience.

        2. Logically and mathematically, in order to be the source of our universe,
        the argument goes, omniscience presupposes a "universal now" to know the
        entire state of what is happening now in the universe. Relativity says this
        is impossible because there is no universal now. If one tries a gambit that
        the divine source is "outside and timeless", then the consequence is
        twofold: such a source can neither be omniscient nor omnipotent (the all).

        When I get the time over the next few days, I will start posting quotes of
        "malarky" as Chase has it from the very sources he cited.

        2. He fails to mention, perhaps because he is unread in the literature, of
        a raging debate over whether relativity theory's extension of geometry
        (spatial relations) to time (hence becoming a fourth dimension 90 degrees
        from all 3D spatial dimensions) is a pragmatically useful and metaphorical
        device (thus Einsteinian relativity theory is not to be taken literally) or
        taken literally in both physics and contemporary philosophy of science
        literature.

        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]

        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]






        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      • Goya
        Malarky may be a malignant word in your dictionary. It s not in the OED, which also makes no mention of any intent to deceive: Humbug, bunkum, nonsense; a
        Message 3 of 4 , Oct 1, 2012
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          Malarky may be a malignant word in your dictionary. It's not in the OED,
          which also makes no mention of any intent to deceive:

          "Humbug, bunkum, nonsense; a palaver, racket. (Usually of an event,
          activity, idea, utterance, etc., seen as trivial, misleading, or not
          worthy of consideration.)"

          I stand by my comments.

          MC


          > I believe Thomas's apparent anger was provoked by Michael's
          > characterization of his {Thomas's] earlier post as "a load of malarky";
          > malarky
          > suggesting the accusation of intent to deceive. The outrage, I believe,
          > has more to
          > do with wounded ego than the substance of the respective arguments
          > involved. Malarky is a malignant word which appears to have metastasized
          > in this
          > instance. I pray the affected parties will "cut it out".
          >
          > David Gallagher
          >
          >
          >
          > In a message dated 10/1/2012 6:25:34 A.M. Eastern Daylight Time,
          > srlclark@... writes:
          >
          >
          >
          >
          >
          > I don't know why Thomas is so outraged by Michael Chase's dismissing the
          > idea that "the Greeks feared time". That claim - which does seem to have
          > many
          > avatars and supporters - can be criticized on many levels: who are "the
          > Greeks"? What is the "time" we are talking about? What is it to "fear"
          > whatever time that is? Why adopt psychoanalytical explanations for what
          > may have
          > serious metaphysical reasons?
          >
          > Some Greek-speakers expected that the future would be very much like the
          > past. Some went further and suggested that it would be identical with the
          > past, in form and even possibly in number (that is, that there could be
          > no
          > way of distinguishing successive repetitions, and that they might as well
          > be
          > considered the same thing - we live both after and before the one and
          > only
          > Trojan War, not merely before and after "a" Trojan War or a very similar
          > war with another name). Does this count as "fearing" the notion of
          > unending
          > and unrepeating change? Or is it a matter of sadly accepting that the
          > possibilities are finite, and so - in endless time - bound to be
          > repeated? Or
          > just experience?
          >
          > Some Greek-speakers thought that "change" (and difference in general) was
          > an illusion: "really" there was only the one eternal being, misleadingly
          > perceived by us. Does this count as "fearing" the notion that some thing
          > or
          > episode could be lost entirely into non-being? Or is it simply
          > acknowledging
          > that to be is always to be present? Nothing is essentially "distant", but
          > only "distant from the speaker". Similarly nothing is essentially "past"
          > or
          > "yet to come", only earlier or later than the speaker.
          >
          > Some Greek-speakers thought that though everything was always changing
          > here in the world of our perceptions that very fact revealed the abiding
          > existence of real presences which were sometimes present in (or reflected
          > in)
          > this world here and sometimes not. Does this count as "fearing" the
          > notion
          > that our words - even our words describing change - have no settled
          > meaning,
          > and that "really" all we can rightly do is gesture (actually, not even
          > that: who are the "we" that is gesturing, what is there stable enough to
          > count
          > as what is gestured at, and why suppose that anything follows from
          > whatever
          > gesture?).
          >
          > Some Greek-speakers, on the other hand, thought otherwise.
          >
          > As to the supposed incompatibility of relativity theory (with its
          > implication that there is no absolute simultaneity) and the notion of a
          > Presence to
          > whom all events and entities are equally present (as in Boethius, Aquinas
          > et al), I don't see that this is anything but a misunderstanding of the
          > notion of such a Presence (and of the theory of relativity itself). The
          > orthodox claim is not that God knows everything that is happening "now"
          > (that is,
          > on 1st October 2012 at 11.12 BST, as if that clock-time were stretched
          > out
          > everywhere) but that God knows all that happens everywhere and everywhen,
          > and all its manifold relations to everything else. That is, temporal
          > succession is something that we have to live with, but that we should not
          > suppose
          > has any implications for the relative unreality of "past" and "future".
          > Quite the opposite: since what is past or future from one finite
          > perspective
          > is present for another with equal authority, all times and pl aces are
          > Present (which is what orthodox theology said anyway). Thomas briefly
          > suggests
          > that God, being "outside time" (and I take it that what is meant is the
          > abiding Present I've just gestured towards), can't be "omniscient": it's
          > an
          > argument - though I don't think he actually spells it out (have I missed
          > something?) - that some have found compelling, but that I don't myself
          > understand - crudely, God doesn't "know" that my colon surgery is "over",
          > but
          > that's because, in the eyes of eternity (which is to say, the truth), it
          > isn't!
          > It's just something that is earlier than the local time at which I type
          > these words (and God eternally knows this).
          >
          > I haven't read Grim's book - I'll try and look out for it - but it sounds
          > from Thomas's account rather like Kenneth Denbigh's Inventive Universe.
          > The
          > issue has more recently been discussed (he takes - on a quick inspection
          > -
          > a different line from me) by William Lane Craig, arguing against Brian
          > Leftow's eternalist ideas.
          >
          > The Christian notion that there will, in some sense, be a final end of
          > time, or of the temporal-perceptual world, or that at least that world
          > will be
          > (eternally is?) transmogrified or resurrected into the eternal, may be at
          > odds with other mythoi, found all over the world (and repeated in much
          > modern theoretical cosmology), that everything begins again, whether or
          > not
          > identically, or that this world must be abandoned if we are ever to
          > attain the
          > eternal. But what any of this means in plain language I am not sure! I am
          > sure that it's not worth getting so heated about it.
          >
          > Stephen Clark
          >
          > ________________________________
          > From: _neoplatonism@yahoogroups.com_ (mailto:neoplatonism@yahoogroups.com)
          > [_neoplatonism@yahoogroups.com_ (mailto:neoplatonism@yahoogroups.com) ]
          > on behalf of Thomas Mether [_thomas.r.mether@..._
          > (mailto:thomas.r.mether@...) ]
          > Sent: 30 September 2012 23:08
          > To: neoplatonism
          > Subject: [neoplatonism] Relativity and Neoplatonism
          >
          > Mr Chase is fond of citing scientists names without going into and
          > evaluating what they actually have said plus whether they are right or
          > wrong.
          >
          > 1. Several of the ones he named are avowed atheists who claim (and there
          > is
          > a long trail of debate on this in the academic literature outside
          > classical, religious, or ancient philosophy studies -- which plays into
          > the
          > economic why have these programs if they are like flat-earth studies )
          > relativity disproves both neoplatonism and any theism if either involve
          > omniscience. Note: the assumption in their shared argument is that the
          > divine (however defined) can't be omnisciently in relation to the world
          > if
          > relativity is true and if such divine is not in relation to the world, it
          > is not omniscient since knowledge is a relation and knowledge - 1 is
          > non-omniscience.
          >
          > 2. Logically and mathematically, in order to be the source of our
          > universe,
          > the argument goes, omniscience presupposes a "universal now" to know the
          > entire state of what is happening now in the universe. Relativity says
          > this
          > is impossible because there is no universal now. If one tries a gambit
          > that
          > the divine source is "outside and timeless", then the consequence is
          > twofold: such a source can neither be omniscient nor omnipotent (the
          > all).
          >
          > When I get the time over the next few days, I will start posting quotes
          > of
          > "malarky" as Chase has it from the very sources he cited.
          >
          > 2. He fails to mention, perhaps because he is unread in the literature,
          > of
          > a raging debate over whether relativity theory's extension of geometry
          > (spatial relations) to time (hence becoming a fourth dimension 90 degrees
          > from all 3D spatial dimensions) is a pragmatically useful and
          > metaphorical
          > device (thus Einsteinian relativity theory is not to be taken literally)
          > or
          > taken literally in both physics and contemporary philosophy of science
          > literature.
          >
          > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
          >
          > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
          >
          >
          >
          >
          >
          >
          > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
          >
          >


          Michael Chase
          CNRS UPR 76
          Paris-Villejuif
          France
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