Re: (OPE-L) Re: Negative values in pure joint production

From: Paul Cockshott (wpc@DCS.GLA.AC.UK)
Date: Thu Oct 28 2004 - 09:53:38 EDT


With apologies to Einstein: while our knowledge about the
past is incomplete and affected by ideology and disinformation,
etc., there is always (at least for 'modern'  society) a greater level
of uncertainty about the future  --  *especially as the time
horizon is extended*.  The reason is not subjective.
The reason is simply that the past has happened (and
therefore can't be changed, even if  our _knowledge_ of and
_interpretations_ of the past can change) and the future hasn't.

This is what I mean by it being subjective. All we know
about the laws of mechanics are that indicates that at
the microscopic level they are time reversible. Time is
distinct from space but past and future within time
are simply positions in that dimension relative
to a specified present moment. In this sense past and 
future are no different from left and right, which
are similarly subjectively defined measures. Once you
stop considering time from the way in which we experience
it, once you abstract from our experience of it, what
you have is the 'block world' view taken by most physicists
in which events are embedded in a four dimensional block.
The laws of nature establish constraints across time between
events but these constraints operate in both directions
at once. The future constrains the past as much as the
past constrains the future.

The idea that the future can be changed is an idealist illusion
since it takes the view that the actor is something distinct from
the universe that is being changed, rather than the actor being
a determinate subsystem of the universe.
It is impossible to give any practical or experimental 
meaning to the idea that the future can be changed. We have
no independent knowledge of the future before and after
our actions to see if our actions have changed the
future. Indeed as soon as you try to express the 
idea of changing the future you get into logical

What does it mean to talk about the future prior to
an action. On 10 slept 2002, the 3 July 2004 was
in the future. Two days later, on 12 slept 2002 the
3 July 2004 was still in the future. How can it
be said that there were two instances of the 3 July 2004
one prior to the events of 9/11 and one after?


I am reminded of a line from a children's story:
"All the King's horses and all the King's men can't put Humpty
Dumpty together again".

Now if Humpty Dumpty hadn't _already_ cracked, i.e. it was an
event that had not  (yet) happened, then (_if_ the cause was a
a  *social* event rather than a natural event that could
be predicted with mathematical precision, e.g. the course of
a comet) -- *especially as the time horizon is extended* --
the degree of uncertainty about what might happen is greater.


This relates to the most obvious asymmetry in time
the tendency of entropy to increase. This worried
Boatman and Maxwell a lot. Over a sufficiently
long time span the probability of an egg breaking and
the probability of an egg spontaneously reforming are the
same. However the conditional probability of an
egg breaking, conditional that is on the currently low
entropy state of the universe, is much greater than
the probability of an egg reforming. All time asymmetric
processes are thus disequilibrium processes conditional
on an initially ordered state.

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