Are Clocks Enough? Science, Philosophy and Time.

Frank, Adam

It has been said that cosmology and “fundamental” physics face a crisis in that long-favored models such as String Theory and the Multiverse have yet to provide firm connections to observational/experimental data. Discussions of a “post-empirical science” have many in the field questioning if current approaches to quantum gravity and its applications are capable of yielding empirically coherent answers to physics most basic questions. One aspect of these questions are attempts to rethink the role of time in physical theories. In this talk I address the problem of time in a non-standard way by first exploring the conflict between its scientific formulation and those that arose in 20th century “continental” philosophy. In particular, I will begin by addressing the famous debate between Einstein and Bergson via philosophical accounts of time that extend beyond what might be called “clock dynamics”. I will then address how the view of time in Phenomenology (i.e Husserl and Heidegger) provides a quite different account of how to approach time from the standard treatments in physics. Taken as a whole, these perspectives highlight foundational questions about where and how to situate physics within the broadest account of human experience. I will end with a discussion of David Chalmers’ famous Hard Problem and the difficulties of embedding a scientific description of time within the general problem of Being as formulated in philosophy.

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