Quotable (#95)

Dark Ecologies has been digging ever deeper into time anomaly. An impressive knot of twistedness is gathered together in this post:

… the collapse of the future upon the present event retroactively posits the event as a consequence of this future decision; therefore future information collapses upon the past in such a way that the causal system appears teleological (from our standpoint) when in fact it is retroactive (from the future decisional process). What we’re saying is that Time a weirder than we would like to believe … it’s as if from our perspective things, events, etc. have a purpose, a teleology; but, the truth is that it is much weirder: time is not bound to the arrow of some forward, linear movement, but can effect our present moment from the future …

Is there really a difference being noted here?

7 thoughts on “Quotable (#95)

  1. Yea, it’s not really anything new except that the quantification of time in the experiments falls on the side of final causation rather than efficient. The equations upon which they based their physical (laser) experiment had been known since the early thirties during that first major thrust of theoretical insights into quantum mechanics. The notion that the future selects the path, and knows if the second laser will drop or not before it does, but not until after the experiment is finalized has some further connections to overturning aspects of string theory which is bound to the arrow of time as set in stone. So that other quantum theories might actually be of more use in explanation now. Obviously that is up for grabs. Obviously as for the fictional use of the ideas in Dick and Gibson it was just interesting to see this crossover…

    • Not meaning to be dogmatic on the subject — but since teleology is standardly considered equivalent to final causation, I’m interested in the question whether ‘efficient purposes’ and ‘reverse temporality’ are ultimately distinguishable conceptions.

      • Obviously the implication of my saying it was a “weird” time anomaly was to imply just that… it depends on one’s perspective and relative position of time. So that the concepts begin to blur and become indistinct… is this not exactly the problems facing quantum (micro) and Einstein (macro) conceptions? At the macro level of abstraction Einstein sees the arrow, while on the quantum level it depends on time anomaly and interference, etc.

        If you’re wanting some dogmatic either/or answer, I doubt there is one: obviously the efficient/final is an Aristotelian notion so in fact may need a great overhaul since his conceptions of substantive formalism on which it was based have come under questioning with the advent of most modern sciences and philosophy. So that these very concepts themselves may be of little use in explaining Causality or Time.

      • I’ll add that Final cause, or telos, is defined as the purpose, end, aim, or goal of something. Like the formal cause, this is a controversial type of cause in science (some of its aspects are used for instance in evolutionary biology, chaos theory see: attractor) . It is commonly claimed that Aristotle’s conception of nature is teleological in the sense that he believed that Nature has goals apart from those that humans have. On the other hand, as will be discussed further below, it has also been claimed that Aristotle thought that a telos can be present without any form of deliberation, consciousness or intelligence. An example of a passage which is discussed in this context is Physics II.8 (from

        This is most obvious in the animals other than man: they make things neither by art nor after inquiry or deliberation. That is why people wonder whether it is by intelligence or by some other faculty that these creatures work, – spiders, ants, and the like… It is absurd to suppose that purpose is not present because we do not observe the agent deliberating. Art does not deliberate. If the ship-building art were in the wood, it would produce the same results by nature. If, therefore, purpose is present in art, it is present also in nature.

        For example, according to Aristotle a seed has the eventual adult plant as its final cause (i.e., as its telos) if and only if the seed would become the adult plant under normal circumstances. In Physics II.9, Aristotle hazards a few arguments that a determination of the final cause of a phenomenon is more important than the others. He argues that the final cause is the cause of that which brings it about, so for example “if one defines the operation of sawing as being a certain kind of dividing, then this cannot come about unless the saw has teeth of a certain kind; and these cannot be unless it is of iron.”[11] According to Aristotle, once a final cause is in place, the material, efficient and formal causes follow by necessity. However he recommends that the student of nature determine the other causes as well, and notes that not all phenomena have a final cause, e.g., chance events.

        [E]verything that Nature makes is means to an end —Aristotle, On the parts of Animals, Book I, Part I

      • My original thought was actually dealing with the hypothetical particle: tachyonic particle that always moves faster than light coined by Gerald Feinberg. Dick used this notion in several of his novels. Most physicists think that faster-than-light particles cannot exist because they are not consistent with the known laws of physics. If such particles did exist, they could be used to build a tachyonic antitelephone and send signals faster than light, which (according to special relativity) would lead to violations of causality. Potentially consistent theories that allow faster-than-light particles include those that break Lorentz invariance, the symmetry underlying special relativity, so that the speed of light is not a barrier.

        It’s in this second sense that Gibson uses a similar device to allow for informatical time-travel through the use of the quantum server into the Peripherals, since light is in this sense the time-barrier beyond which classical physics cannot be breached; but at quantum levels of abstraction it can. This is the time anomaly that in the experiment conducted showing us that classical physics has now been breached using macro-technologies upon quantum processes.

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