Theoretical constraint

“[That the universe is spatiotemporal in its fundamental nature] is in doubt in present-day physics and cosmology…. Note that if temporality goes, i.e. not just spacetime but temporality in any form, then experience also goes, given that experience requires time. One of the fine consequences of this is that there never has been any suffering. But no theory of reality can be right that has the consequence that there never has been any suffering.”

G. Strawson, Consciousness and its place in nature, p. 9.

About Huenemann

Curious about the ways humans use their minds and hearts to distract themselves from the meaninglessness of life.
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2 Responses to Theoretical constraint

  1. It doesn’t at all follow from the fact that time isn’t fundamental that the concept “time” doesn’t get at something real about the world. After all, very few of the items in our ontology are fundamental. I see no reason to think that whatever reconstruction is in order for our concept of time wouldn’t likely preserve “suffering” in its pertinent respects.


  2. Huenemann says:

    I mostly provided the quote because I liked his invocation of the reality of suffering as a metaphysical constraint upon theory. But you raise an interesting possibility. Suppose time isn’t fundamental, but emerges out of some more basic structure. What then would we say about time? We could say that it only seems to be real (which is what GS would conclude), or that it is real, but not as real as the more basic thing (so time is like a rainbow or an economy — real, but emergent from things that are more real).

    Where does that leave experience? If time only seems to be real, then so too with experience, I guess, and so too with suffering (absurd result). If time is real but not most real, then so too with experience and suffering. We would be left saying that experiences of suffering are real, but not as real as something in which / of which / for which “suffering” cannot possibly apply. The Spinoza side of me can live with this. The side that listens to Ravel and Brahms, alas, cannot.


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