16 July, 2018


“Time is invention and nothing else.” Henri Bergson
Time is not a ticking clock. It is the measure of qualitative change. 

The Time Machine (1960)

A recent BBC Horizon programme, which purports to be a serious, if popularising regular Science event, took an odd and askance view of Time, even including Time Machines and the possibility of building one. But, in the part of the programme I was able to catch, only one scientist, Lee Smolin, addressed Real Time.

For, Time is what separates incremental, quantitative science, from developing, indeed, evolutionary science: The Science of Qualitative and Revolutionary-Creative Changes. The rest talked at length about "Time" as it occurs in Formal Equations, in other words, NOT time in the Real Concrete World, but "Time" as it exists in Ideality, (along with the "Dimensions of Space", which in Ideality can be as many as you like) within the world of Pure Forms alone- the realm of Mathematics, a totally pluralist world, which can only be made to approximate to Reality in very carefully filtered-and-constrained Stabilities. For, Reality-as-is is most definitely holistic and NOT pluralistic.

Now, one of the features of the Pluralist Stance, apart from its tenet of a World composed only of eternal Natural Laws, and hence wholly excluding any possibility of Qualitative Change, or any means of explaining real development, has therefore, to be the surprising inclusion of Time at all (apart, that is, as relegated to a purely quanitative variable - as with everything else in that realm). Indeed, even when Time is included in Equations, it is only as just such a variable: "Time simply passes, proceeds incrementally, as do all other variables along with it!".

Hence, such time doesn't change qualitatively, into something else: it is more like an alternative "ruler" of merely quantitative changes in something else! Like the dimensions of Space, that of Time is similar, merely an overall context - an independant stage upon which everything happens.

Yet, Qualitative Changes do indeed happen to other variables, and the precise times when they occur are important. Indeed, using a particular quantitative variable to signal exactly when a qualitative change is due to happen (from prior experience), became a regular totally non-causal pragmatic frig within all scientific reasoning.

Absolutely NO explanation would be involved, just a pragmatic if-then insertion to a wholly new situation where the change was already ready and waiting to be involved. Indeed, sometimes a whole set of techniques can be recorded exclusively using such flips and no explanations whatsoever, in producing a required result: it is termed Technology! And, as one of my disciplines is Computing, (particularly Computers-in-Control), I am well aware of its value in Computer Programming too.

But, Time has, in all of these situations, been totally dredged of all its qualities, which are necessarily-intrinsic to literally all Qualitative Changes, but never revealed. We see Time as merely an accumulating number - an abstraction - much more easily handled, than its necessary role in many qualitative changes.

Let us take a crucial one - Birth!

In every single second, literally millions of new living entities are born.

The time since their conception is, for each type of entity relatively fixed, but it cannot be wholly embodied in a ticking clock. Indeed, what must be going on, has to be a complex, multi-interacting set of processes of development that can only deliver its result, when all of those finally deliver-together a viable entity, which is then born!

What results is an integrated and persisting, self-maintaining system, in which vast numbers of contributing components, are now integrated and co-operating parts.

With human beings, we may give the period of pregnancy a quantitative-length of 9 months, with the Birth happening at the end of such a period, but what has had to actually occur, in turning a single fertilised egg into a new human being, is the caused development of an amazing system: that 9 months is only an overall measure in time of that miraculous, time-involved, real process!

Time is not just a significant quantitative measure of time-elapsed, but what is involved in every contributing process, and affecting inter-relationship in allowing all of that system to deliver appropriately. And, the final Time will be intimately determined by the conditions involved: the overall time will vary dependant upon different conditions. And sometimes those conditions are not fulfilled, and the whole process is aborted automatically.

The arguments involved here may seem somewhat laboured, but the intention is to bury the myth that Time is a mere incremental measure, and consider it as intrinsic in all holistic systems of processes delivering qualitative change.

The above ideas can only mean something significantly new within a Holist stance, rather than the usual pluralist stance, and the clearest example of the differences are delivered in the events involved in major significant qualitative changes - that is within Emergent Episodes, when systems of interacting processes actively and causally precipitate the final flip into a new mode.

And, widening the study drastically over longer time periods, and significantly different Levels of Reality bring both the Origin of Life, and its subsequent Evolution, and even Social Revolutions into consideration too. At such scales Qualitative Changes are the only significant ones, and alone enable Real Explanations for what is going on.

Perhaps the most revealing and crucial System of such processes, is that revealed by this theorist, in his description of what he termed Truly Natural Selection, as it pertained to the evolution of non-living processes in the necessary precursor developments to the amazing Origin of Life itself.
Indeed, it was only in addressing this essential Phase that he, himself, finally realised the only way that usually separate-and-transitory chemical processes could finally become both continuing and integrating factors, and, without which, Life could never have emerged!

NOTE: Inspect any diagram of Metabolic Pathways to see just how amazing that chemical system had to become before Life could become possible.

All the metabolic pathways which happen inside every living cell

No comments:

Post a Comment