Monday, 7 June 2010
Kant's First Antinomy: The World Has a Beginning in Time
The world has a beginning in time.
I said I'd have a reluctant look at the particular antinomies and so here we are. This is part of Kant’s first antinomy which according to my intermediary of Bertrand Russell is a position which “can apparently be proved,” along with the counter-claim that the world has no beginning in time which can also apparently be proved; and so language inferentially falls apart as a truth tool.
Each language statement can be treated existentially, that is to stand alone as a sensible language statement. So for example if someone produces fifty pages of argument that end in the ‘proven conclusion’ that 2+2=5, then one can and should with full justification ignore or not bother to read the arguments since 2+2=4, and 2+2=5 being simply wrong then the arguments are blatantly useless. Even if the whole world but oneself declared the arguments to be sound, one still knows they are imaginary and cannot possibly prove a false language statement. The ‘proofs’ can only be as erroneous as the conclusion. Anyone claiming that the ‘proofs’ have disturbing implications regarding language is merely wallowing in an intellectual hallucination; instead of realizing the argument must be false, jumping to the unsustainable notion of language itself being false. To even attempt to state this position of language being false requires the starting point of language being true so as to state it as a meaningful proposition.
And so back to Kant’s first antinomy regarding the world having a beginning in time. Kant also brings space into this affair but it is enough here to merely deal with time. Firstly it is no surprise the intellectual issue is a very abstract one, where unlike for example the 2+2 case, there is no possible observable data to compare with one’s logic; instead it is a matter where one could very easily go wrong with one’s abstract, perhaps convoluted, perhaps very convoluted, thought; and immersed in this language, lose all sight of whether one’s language is sensible or wholly gone astray. The language of mathematics is by contrast a far clearer and simpler logical tool, with one’s errors presumably blatant to any competent colleague in the discipline. This ‘ordinary’ language of words though is a far more elusive affair. So once again:
The world has a beginning in time.
So as said earlier this statement must be able to stand existentially as a sensible language statement. Any ‘arguments’ or ‘proofs’ are beside the point, and ultimately superfluous.
Taking the world to be the universe and the universe is all that is, then all that is includes time, and it is meaningless to try and talk of ‘the world’ and ‘time’ as though they were separate phenomena. To do so is akin to trying to talk of water as distinct from the hydrogen and oxygen which comprise it. So since time and the universe absolutely coincide, are inseparable, then it makes no sense to talk of the universe having a beginning in time. This is to try and suggest that there is a field of time and then the universe is introduced at some point into this field – to talk of the universe or world, and time as distinct phenomena. ‘The world’ is used here in the sense of what is. Time cannot exist as an autonomous element outside of what is. If one removes what is or the world, then along with it goes time.
Another point in tandem is that since time and the world are inseparable then any point within the field of existence is simply another point within this field. One cannot talk of any such point as the beginning, it is instead a point like any other (though the reality of any ‘point’as distinct from the field as a whole is illusory).
To talk of a finite length to some system is necessarily to require a point of observation outside of that system to observe its finitude. Since in the case of life or the universe this ‘external’ point must be part of what is or the world, then such a point cannot after all be an external point. There can only be what is, in other words: ‘the world’.
To try and argue otherwise someone might say if one pictures oneself walking along a timber plank with nothing else in view, then from one’s point of observation on the plank one can come to a clear end to itself, and similarly if one traverses the plank’s length in the other direction,; thus observing the finite nature of the plank. Since this is the only object, then this is comparable to the absolute system of ‘the world’ from within which one can speak of it being finite.
However, for the plank to come to an observable end is for the plank to exist within something extending beyond itself, namely space, and so the plank is not ‘the world’ but merely an aspect of a broader world. And so the plank is not an absolute system but merely dwells within a greater one. Similarly to talk of a beginning in time is to set limits to an absolute system.
It is obviously quite a difficult matter to convey and understand but to extend it further, treating it again as a matter of language. To say there is a beginning in time is also to necessarily say or imply that ‘Before this point nothing was.’ Again this is to talk of a point of observation external to the system from which one can observe the finite length. From all necessary points of observation within what is – the world – such an observation point cannot exist. However we can also now look at the logic of the language statement:
Before this point nothing was.
The very notion of there being no time before creation is self-contradictory. "Before" is a word dependent on things existing within some sequential order, and here that order is time. It then makes no sense to place a word whose specific context is within time, and inseparably the world, in a context you declare to be before existence. "Before" can only have its rightful place within the world of time.
In the very same way this translates to the world as a spatial structure. To talk of this world as being finite is to try and say that beyond certain points there is nothing. Beyond's necessary context is within space and so it nakes no sense to try and talk of nothing beyond a certain point. The only thing that can be beyond is more space.
Not only that but it is logically impossible to talk of the existence of nothing, as in ‘Nothing was’. To do so is to talk of the existence of non-existence, which is nonsense. To talk of a finite universe or existence is to attempt to talk of existence bracketed by non-existence. Since non-existence tautologically doesn't exist, this 'framing of existence by non-existence' is meaningless. There can be no end to existence since existence is all there is, and so what is is infinite.
So all in all, as stated previously, the ‘truth’ of this antinomy is merely an intellectual hallucination, and to say that life is finite and has a beginning in time is a matter of meaningless language. If I were to delve into the alleged proof for this illogical language statement of the world having a beginning in time, then these proofs would of course be no such thing, identically to the illusory nature of proofs for 2+2=5.
One last point which might be necessary is that someone might dispute my use of ‘What is’ and ‘The World.’ Someone might talk of for example the existence of Heaven as a realm distinct from ‘the world,’ or as might be qualified: ‘this world ‘ Such use of language is as above to try and set limits on what is. ‘What is’ includes all of what is, and again just as water cannot be treated as it were distinct from hydrogen and oxygen, any labels like ‘heaven’ and ‘this world’ are false divisions of reality or what is. This would again be to try and talk of an absolute system, ‘the world’, as dwelling within something beyond itself, and so in other words, as with the plank in space, not as an absolute system.
Later edit: I said I'd look at the antinomies, meaning all of them, but having glanced at the others, they're so inane I can't be arsed tackling them.