Arguments against temporal finitism

Discussion of the nature of Ultimate Reality and the path to Enlightenment.
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Liberty Sea
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Arguments against temporal finitism

Post by Liberty Sea » Sat Apr 15, 2017 7:49 pm

Hi everyone.

Are you familiar with Kant's famous argument against the idea that time has beginning? If not, you can check out this wikipedia article on temporal finitism which mentions various versions of the argument and the objections of academic philosophers against it.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Temporal_finitism
"An actual infinite cannot be completed by successive addition."
"The temporal series of past events has been completed by successive addition."
"Thus the temporal series of past events cannot be an actual infinite."
If we assume that the world has no beginning in time, then up to every given moment an eternity has elapsed, and there has passed away in that world an infinite series of successive states of things. Now the infinity of a series consists in the fact that it can never be completed through successive synthesis. It thus follows that it is impossible for an infinite world-series to have passed away, and that a beginning of the world is therefore a necessary condition of the world's existence.

— Immanuel Kant, First Antinomy, of Space and Time
1. If the universe did not have a beginning, then the past would consist in an infinite temporal sequence of events.
2. An infinite temporal sequence of past events would be actually and not merely potentially infinite.
3. It is impossible for a sequence formed by successive addition to be actually infinite.
4. The temporal sequence of past events was formed by successive addition.
5. Therefore, the universe had a beginning.
I'm interested in seeing the our forumgoers' arguments against it (preferably as detailed as possible). Go ahead and exercise your wisdom.

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Dan Rowden
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Re: Arguments against temporal finitism

Post by Dan Rowden » Sat Apr 15, 2017 8:54 pm

Oh, you again. Sigh.

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David Quinn
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Re: Arguments against temporal finitism

Post by David Quinn » Sun Apr 16, 2017 12:38 pm

Liberty Sea wrote:
1. If the universe did not have a beginning, then the past would consist in an infinite temporal sequence of events.
2. An infinite temporal sequence of past events would be actually and not merely potentially infinite.
3. It is impossible for a sequence formed by successive addition to be actually infinite.
4. The temporal sequence of past events was formed by successive addition.
5. Therefore, the universe had a beginning.
I'm interested in seeing the our forumgoers' arguments against it (preferably as detailed as possible). Go ahead and exercise your wisdom.
If the infinite future can have a starting point (namely, the present), and thus be an example of an infinite which stretches endlessly in one direction only, then the same logical courtesy must be given to the infinite past which stretches back from the present.

Kant's argument is based in the delusion that events really exist, that the boundaries between events are real, and exploits the limitations of the mathematical concept of infinity to produce a nonsensical philosophic conclusion. We could use this same basic argument to "prove" that no event, whatever it might be, could ever come to an end (because: each event can be carved up into an infinite number of smaller sub-events). Zeno used the same argument to "prove" that an arrow can never reach its target.

Ultimately, this kind of thinking is a sleight-of-hand attempt to utilize the quirks and flaws of the mathematical concept of infinity for seemingly no other reason than to try and squeeze God into the picture. It doesn't really have anything to say on the philosophic concept of the Infinite.

Glostik91
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Re: Arguments against temporal finitism

Post by Glostik91 » Fri Apr 21, 2017 8:22 pm

Are you familiar with Kant's famous argument against the idea that time has beginning?
http://www.phil.pku.edu.cn/resguide/Kant/CPR/16.html

Please scroll down to the 'FIRST CONFLICT OF THE TRANSCENDENTAL IDEAS' and you will see that your Kant quote is actually Kant attempting to prove that time has a beginning.

I have quoted you here saying 'Kant's famous argument against the idea that time has a beginning', but your Kant quote is not arguing 'against the idea that time has a beginning' (i.e. time is infinite). No worries, I can copy/paste the text that concerns us.
Thesis
The world has a beginning in time, and is also limited as regards space.

Proof
If we assume that the world has no beginning in time, then up to every given moment an eternity has elapsed, and there has passed away in the world an infinite series of successive states of things. Now the infinity of a series consists in the fact that it can never be completed through successive synthesis. It thus follows that it is impossible for an infinite world-series to have passed away, and that a beginning of the world is therefore a necessary condition of the world's existence. This was the first point that called for proof.
And Kant also provided a proof against the idea that time has a beginning, which seems more apropos concerning what you have posted.
Antithesis
The world has no beginning, and no limits in space; it is infinite as regards both time and space.

Proof
For let us assume that it has a beginning. Since the beginning is an existence which is preceded by a time in which the thing is not, there must have been a preceding time in which the world was not, i.e. an empty time. Now no coming to be of a thing is possible in an empty time, because no part of such a time possesses, as compared with any other, a distinguishing condition of existence rather than of non-existence; and this applies whether the thing is supposed to arise of itself or through some other cause. In the world many series of things can, indeed, begin; but the world itself cannot have a beginning, and is therefore infinite in respect of past time.
In fact even in the wikipedia article you linked I noticed that you must have misspoke when you said that Kant was arguing against temporal finitism.

From the wikipedia article
Immanuel Kant's argument for temporal finitism, at least in one direction, from his First Antinomy, runs as follows:[7][8]
So basically, what is this thread about again?
a gutter rat looking at stars

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