“Was not their mistake once more bred of the life of slavery that they had been living?—a life which was always looking upon everything, except mankind, animate and inanimate—‘nature,’ as people used to call it—as one thing, and mankind as another, it was natural to people thinking in this way, that they should try to make ‘nature’ their slave, since they thought ‘nature’ was something outside them” — William Morris

Friday, October 14, 2011

Is Causality Symmetrical?

Physical laws are time symmetric, but causality only seems to happen in one direction. What is going on? 

This only remains a puzzle if you think that objects sit in a container called “time.” If the container flows a certain way, like a stream, then backwards causation would be like swimming against a current, which might be very strong or all powerful.

If on the other hand, time is emitted by objects themselves, then it's plausible that an object could emit time in such a way as to influence the past.

If an object that is “present” is only a vorhanden caricature of a real object, then the paradox goes away. The paradox of backwards causation is only paradoxical from the standpoint of present-at-hand objects floating in a stream of time.

Furthermore, it becomes even more simple in a relatively flat ontology. My mind is not that different from any interobjective system of entities. In that case, my future seems to influence my present all the time, since I anticipate.


C-Nihilist said...

"Time is what keeps everything from happening all at once." (it wasn't me who said that, but i like it.)

whether events happen on a single deterministic timeline, or there are an infinite number of parallel universes, if a specific end-state is Z, then the preceding sequence of events, conditions and circumstances A, B, C... must occur in a very particular and precise way in order to set the table for Z to come to fruition.

i don't know what this says about causation.

C-Nihilist said...

is the future a hyperobject "futuring" about current events? ;-)

Ronald C Spencer said...

Well, older interpretations of physical laws (17th century Newtonian physics) are simple enough to appear 'time symmetric'. More like they don't take space-time into account, they didn't have the idea then. But we know better these days.

Prigogine helped us all out on time.