Continuity

General discussion, particularly exploring the Dharma in the modern world.
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Thundering Cloud
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Re: Continuity

Post by Thundering Cloud »

Rick wrote: Mon Nov 02, 2020 4:13 pm
Sam.E wrote: Mon Nov 02, 2020 6:59 am What do you hope to gain from the answer?
A deeper understanding of the nature of how things exist in time.
The notion of a continuum is a human idea, albeit a very powerful one. Modern mathematics (e.g. Calculus, the mathematics of motion and change) hinges upon it. But like all ideas in mathematics, whether it is an "invention" or "discovery" is a matter of debate, or perhaps a matter of perspective... And regardless, it is a leap of faith to infer that physical space or time (or spacetime) is an example of a continuum, or a manifestation of this idea.

The ancient Greek philosopher Zeno famously contrived a set of paradoxes which demonstrate, from various perspectives, that if space and time are taken to be continuous then motion is logically impossible, by virtue of requiring infinitely many "steps" to be completed in a finite time. ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zeno%27s_paradoxes ) Obviously, it is possible to sweep these objections under the rug and just run with it (this is basically how Calculus was developed, "it works, we'll figure out the theory later"), but IMO paradox should never be ignored. It's an indication of conflicting assumptions, that's one's view is not self-consistent.

In modern quantum physics, spacetime is described as a "quantum foam" of unpredictable energy fluctuation, more like static noise than like blankness. And it has a granularity to it in at least some sense: there is a smallest interval of time (and also of space) over which any meaningful physical measurement can be made, called the Planck time (and correspondingly the Planck length for space). To what extent space or time "exist" on smaller scales than this is a very open question in physics circles.

Personally, I do not believe in existence apart from awareness, and so I certainly don't believe in the existence of things that are not measurable even in theory. And so I do not believe spacetime is a continuum. As Padma said, I think a sequence of moments is a better description. In contrast with well-spaced falling dominoes though, "moments" are created by awareness, and need not happen with a regular cadence or frequency per se. Maybe some dominoes fall over immediately and others waver a little first...

Hopefully some of this helps? :smile:
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PadmaVonSamba
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Re: Continuity

Post by PadmaVonSamba »

Let’s start with a hypothetical example, a ping pong ball bouncing over the net on the table. And suppose you film this, so you have a lot of freeze-frames, like animation cells, perhaps a sequence of sixty images, and you can compare them of course, and track the movement of the ball from point A to point B and then C and so on. This is the conventional perception of things.

But, we also know that if we use a camera with a higher shutter speed, we could capture 600, or 600,000,000 points along the arc of movement where the ball is at any given time. An infinite number, if such an infinite camera existed. (At some point, the molecular structure of the ping pong ball itself would even be moving slower than this super fast camera shutter but that’s a separate issue!)

But, here’s the really interesting part: not only can the entire journey of the ping pong ball be divided into an infinite number of “slices of time”, but each of those slices in itself can be infinitely divided, and not necessarily in the same way.

You can divide the period from point A to point B in half, and you can simultaneously divide the period from point B to point C into thirds, or into millionths, if you want to.
It’s like having a pie chart, half of it big wedges, half of if small wedges. No matter how many wedges you create, not only are you dividing up the whole pie, but each slice can be divided infinitely as well. That’s basically fractals, isn’t it?

How this applies to the discussion of continuum vs. sequence (of consciousness) is that it means sequence occurs only in terms of relativity. In other words, the position of an object such as, “the thought I had a moment ago” compared with “the thought I am having at this very moment” only arises as a sequence of separate entities (separate thought moments) when subject to the process of comparison itself; otherwise, thought flows as an unbroken continuum when no comparisons are being made.
It’s like watching movement under ordinary light vs watching movement under a strobe light.
And this then applies to every conceivable, infinite division, or slice, all at once.

So, yes, thoughts occur as separately arising moments, each one being the basis for the next. But each separate moment itself is composed of infinitely shorter moment-parts, each giving rise to the next, to the point that it becomes so granular, it is experienced as an unbroken continuum, like watching salt being poured from a bag.

At least that’s what the worm in the bottle told me.
:jumping:
EMPTIFUL.
An inward outlook develops outward insight.
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Rick
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Re: Continuity

Post by Rick »

Thundering Cloud wrote: Tue Nov 17, 2020 6:53 pm Hopefully some of this helps? :smile:
Definitely! Good food for thought, yum yum.
Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily ...
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Rick
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Re: Continuity

Post by Rick »

PadmaVonSamba wrote: Wed Nov 18, 2020 4:27 am At least that’s what the worm in the bottle told me.
Worms get it.
Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily ...
Bundokji
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Re: Continuity

Post by Bundokji »

Self continuity is a dependently originated phenomena and therefore there is no ultimate truth in it.
The cleverest defenders of faith are its greatest enemies: for their subtleties engender doubt and stimulate the mind. -- Will Durant
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