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March 29, 2014 at 7:44 pm #454499
For asking about or raising concerns about anything other than parecon/parsoc or media…please.April 1, 2014 at 4:53 pm #526491
This is a bit off the beaten track, but I’ve heard that you follow theoretical physics. Here’s the thing that I can’t get past: if the past, the present, and the future all exist, what does that mean as far as activism? that whatever we do is already in the “time-space block”? I know you would be the last person to sit back and watch the whole thing unfold but yet…the future exists! Your thoughts.
JerryApril 1, 2014 at 5:58 pm #528306
You shouldn’t be disconcerted by stuff you hear about the nature of reality – from pop physics, even from books that are popular but written by physicists, often.There is no physicist on the planet, I would wager, that for two seconds thinks the future and past are all already determined, therefore nothing can change, and so on. The future not only doesn’t exist, it isn’t ordained. Make it better!April 2, 2014 at 9:02 am #543090
I wouldn’t consider Brian Greene a pop physicist. Greene: “The past, present, and future are all equally real. They all exist.” Check it out: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yqzgYRBlslw about the 27 min mark, plus and minus. This a segment called the “Illusion of time” from his series “The Elegant Universe.” Sean Carroll, CIT, agrees. Max Tegmark, MIT: “The past is not gone. And the future isn’t non-existent. The past, present, and future are all existing in the same way.” I heard you follow theoretical physics so I thought I would get your take. Most political types are oblivious to this stuff.
JerryApril 2, 2014 at 9:35 am #543419
I know I am not Michael and this has little to do with parecon/parsoc but I have had similar thoughts and have read a fair bit of stuff of Greene’s, Paul Davies and others. I also have similar thoughts regarding free will and determinism and feel them to be similar to the time issue. My take is that even if there is no free will and strong determinism is true, we can’t know it. That would require standing outside the operating system looking in. If free will is an illusion, then my argument is, the illusion is the same as actually having it. You can’t do or know otherwise, so you get on and act within the illusion. What’s the difference.
Now I’m scared I’ve entered a philosophical debate and possible labyrinth beyond my intellect.
April 2, 2014 at 4:45 pm #552208
- This reply was modified 1 year, 3 months ago by James.
Thanks James. Good. I’m not crazy. That’s how I think about it too.
And it does, doesn’t it? relate to parecon. According to this space-time block,
parecon exists or it doesn’t. Like you. I’ll stop there. I can barely get my
head around this stuff, that is why I wanted to know what others, who follow this
stuff, thought. It’s all amazing.April 2, 2014 at 8:10 pm #557500
You are right, Brian Greene is a serious physicist as is Carroll and Tegmark – but the books are popular science, for a wide audience. Being interested in this stuff, so to speak, is fine – I read tons of it. Sort of a hobby, as I would have been a physicist were it not for the Civil Rights and anti War movements turning my life away from my talents and toward responsibilities. BUT, letting what is in such books disturb you about the world you can see all around you, is not a good idea. If you and Brian were in a room, and you said to him, hmmm, the future is already written. So why are you angsting over deciding whether to write another book or visit the Great Barrier Reef – he would look at you and wonder what got into you, not it was him who got into you. James’s view is fine. So are others. Because ultimately this is mostly conjecture and, in any event has few if any implications. Suppose you really believe that what you will do next Thursday was decide before you were even born. I think there is no scientist that believes that – but let’s say you did. So it is next Wednesday night, and you are deciding whether to work Thursday, or go to the Great Barrier Reef. Do you think about it any differently? No. I don’t think so. So, I would say, don’t worry about it – there is plenty that really does have implications, not to mention being far more reliably true, to worry about!April 2, 2014 at 8:12 pm #557537
whooops, sorry, didn’t notice I was logged on as admin, not Michael…April 3, 2014 at 7:10 am #568107
I don’t disagree. I was just curious what others thought. BTW, maybe you could interview Greene on the link between theoretical physics, politics, and justice.I don’t think it is irrelevant. I intend to do what I always do even though I think these guys are indeed saying that what I do next Thursday was determined before I was born – way before. The past, the present, the future all exist. Pretty mind bending.April 3, 2014 at 1:44 pm #574045
What would cause you to think Greene would have any more to say then, say, you. He knows physics but why would you think he has anything to say about the rest? If I had an opportunity to sit and talk with him, or even interview him, the questions would all be about science, both current views, and issues of methodology. And, honestly, Jerry, I don’t think we agree, because I do think the modern physics ruminations – which is what a whole lot of it is – are irrelevant to social change aims, means, and choices. But, if you would like to pursue the possibility of implications with a physicist, I would suggest Michio Kaku. He was – may still be, I don’t know – a serious socialist and certainly has more of a two portfolio focus – physics and social change – then I would anticipate for Greene. I also think if you find Kaku’s address and write him, he would probably reply. If you do, let me know the result!April 3, 2014 at 4:33 pm #578794
You are probably right about Greene. On second thought, he would probably would not have anything particularly interesting to say about politics. Regarding Kaku, he seems to have a broader focus. He brings up policy questions all the time but when he bought into the propaganda on Iran, I was disappointed.April 3, 2014 at 4:38 pm #578970
Kaki was in what some would call the hard left, literally a particular socialist organization, I believe, so I am a bit surprised to hear that. On the other hand, when one becomes somewhat of a media star, changes can follow. I really don’t know…April 4, 2014 at 1:00 pm #599340
I am a theoretical physicist, so I’d thought I’d add something. This question “if the result of my deliberation is already fixed, what is the point in deliberating?” goes all the way back, it’s not directly related to new physics. It’s the kind of thing discussed by philosophers rather than physicists; if you look up “free will” on wikipedia you will see the tip of this enormous iceberg. People have some up with some pretty good arguments to the effect that moral deliberation and a fixed future (“determinism”) are compatible.
As a physicist the block universe is sometimes a useful mental picture, but we play fast and loose with such pictures all the time and rarely worry about any philosophical consequences that they might have; we know that all our “models” are only feeble attempts to understand what is really going on anyway. As a moral person, moral decisions seem to me to stand on their own two feet; if some philosophical argument tells me not to act, it must be wrong, end of story.April 18, 2014 at 2:43 am #721226
You wrote a post once on Faceleft reflecting upon your commitment to never applaud something which you weren’t willing to do yourself. At the end, and getting to my question, you added – that maybe we needed another (or more) Malcolm X(s) in the world.
I found your post to be very inspiring and I wanted to ask you to elaborate more upon what you mean and what you were thinking.
Thank you for your time!April 18, 2014 at 1:39 pm #721253
I wish I had a memory able to help just based on what you write here – but honestly, I have no memory of the article and therefore have no idea of the context of anything I wrote in it. The former point stemmed from when I was first becoming political, applauding people at a draft card turn in, but sitting up in a balcony and not doing it myself. When I left I found myself troubled by that – and thus the resolve for the future. It isn’t like a law – of course I can applaud actions by others – say Snowden – that I am not and cannot do, or that would make no sense for me. The idea is more if someone is doing something I could do, and if it makes sense for them and would make the same sense for me – then, I should be doing it too, unless doing something better…and so on. In Remembering Tomorrow, in context, which is where the story is fully told, I think it makes sense, or hope so.
As to needing more Malcolms – I can only guess at what I might have meant. Malcolm addressed his own constituency very critically, often – something that is typically in short supply, and I may have been referring to that.
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