Monday, 28 May 2012

Sunday, 27 May 2012

Essential identity: Physical identity

In continuing the discussion of our intuitive concept of personal identity, I look at ways in which our physical attributes might be the source of our identity.

Saturday, 26 May 2012

Essential identity: Introduction

My last blog post discussed the notion that our intuitions are not trustworthy guides to understanding truths that are outside the bounds of our everyday experience. Relativity shows how our intuitions deceive us as to the nature of space and time, while quantum theory shows us the flaws in our common sense notions of matter and energy.

But there are many other ways in which our intuitions may deceive us. Much has been written about free will and whether this is an illusion (I believe it is). Bruce Hood has recently released a book called The Self Illusion, which argues that what we identify with is not a well-integrated self but a collection of competing drives and subconscious processes.

In this post I will introduce the idea that something is wrong with the very notion of personal identity itself.

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Intuitive deceptions

As the years pass, and I mull over various philosophical or scientific ideas, it's becoming increasingly obvious to me that our human intuitions lead us astray all to often. We have uncovered numerous phenomena in the scientific world where reality is stranger than our intuitions suppose. In some cases, the nature of reality stretches the capability of our imaginations past breaking point.

Let's look at some examples.

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

A part is more complex than the whole

Here's two apparently unrelated hypotheses for you:

1. The universe contains infinite space and an infinite quantity of stuff.

2. The many worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics is true.

Both of these appear at first glance to be astonishingly wasteful, positing infinities upon infinities of things we can never observe and which can never affect us. As such, they appear to be more complex than ideas which assume that space is finite or that there is only one quantum world.

It would seem that Occam's razor weighs against them.

In this post, I will argue that in fact the reverse is true.

Sunday, 13 May 2012

Something from nothing: Competing premises

In my previous post, I discussed how Dr. Carrier's argument that the universe could come into existence from nothing is cogent only if you choose to assume that anything can happen in preference to assuming that there is no dimension of time in a state of absolute nothingness.

My own viewpoint is that absolute nothingness does in fact imply a lack of a time dimension, and so Carrier's argument does not hold. So how can we choose which is the better description of absolute nothingness? In this post, I will argue for my position.

Saturday, 12 May 2012

Something from nothing: Reconciliation

In my last few posts, I've been highlighting the reasons why I do not agree with Dr. Richard Carrier's argument that the universe could spring from absolute nothingness simply because there would be no laws to prevent this happening.

The focus of my argument has been that there would be no time in a state of absolute nothingness and so nothing at all could happen, including the spontaneous creation of time

In this post, I try to understand the fundamental origin of our disagreement and propose that perhaps neither of us are really wrong.

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Something from nothing: Flavours of singularity

One of the ways Dr. Richard Carrier defends his contention that time can arise from a state of absolute nothingness is by giving one example where this may have happened: the singularity at the origin of our universe.

In this post, I will attempt to refute this by arguing that this singularity was not really a state of absolute nothingness at all.

Sunday, 6 May 2012

Something from nothing: Time and hypertime

In continuing the discussion of my objection to Richard Carrier's argument that the universe could arise out of a state of absolute nothingness, I consider the question of whether time could arise spontaneously in a timeless environment.

The crux of my argument is that if time does not exist, then nothing can change. The state of absolute nothingness implies that there is no time. As absolute nothingness is not what we observe around us, we can safely conclude that the state of absolute nothingness has never described reality.
You are still stuck on hypertime. You seem to think we need some "extra" time in which to create time. We don't. It's instantaneous.
This is the argument I will attempt to refute in this post.

Saturday, 5 May 2012

Something from nothing: The assumption of time

Dr. Richard Carrier has kindly responded to my criticism of his argument with a comment on his blog as well as a number of emails.

In the following posts, I will attempt to represent his position as accurately as I can and outline the precise points of disagreement between us. In this one, I discuss the issue of whether Carrier needs to assume that time exists in order to make his point.

Thursday, 3 May 2012

Existence and existence

In my last post, I discussed two different types of beginnings, and in doing so outlined a new way to attack an old problem about the creation of the universe.

In this post, I'm going to talk about two different types of existence. This post isn't going to have any new ideas in it, but I want to write down my take on it anyway because I will be depending on these arguments in future posts.