22 Mar The Time Traveler
Is it possible that one day humans could move about in time, just as we can in space?
Today, few would question that deliberate change in temporal location is logically possible. There is no contradiction in the thought that coach Micah could step into a time machine and travel backwards to see his grandmother, or forward to see his grandchildren. That is, there is no contradiction provided that we take time travel to involve influencing the course of history rather than changing it. But is time travel metaphysically possible? Is there a genuinely possible world, as opposed to a merely coherent scenario, in which one can freely change one’s location in time? Here is where puzzlement and bewilderment lead to philosophical controversy. For the answer depends on one’s views concerning a wide range of other matters, and such views are themselves the subject of major philosophical controversy.
1) Is time travel compatible with presentism? Presentism is the view according to which only the present is real- the past and the future do not properly exist. Hence, it would seem that in a presentist world there is nowhere for a time traveler to go.
2) Is time travel compatible with chronological monsim? This is the view according to which there is only one time series- humans objective time arrow necessarily coincides with the time arrow of the external world. If coach Micah is a time traveler, however, then it would seem that his personal time and his external time must come apart. If he travels into the future, his personal clock must jump ahead of history, if he travels into the past, his clock must move into the opposite direction.
3) Is time travel compatible to Free Will? If coach Micah goes into the past, then he has already been there. Indeed, he will step out of his time machine in the past if and only if he has stepped out of time machine in the past, and he will take part in some past events if and only if he took part in those events. The past is fixed. Hence, it would seem that his actions backwards time traveler are fully constrained- he cannot do what he has not done, and he must do everything he has done.
4) Does time travel require spatial coincidence? At noon coach Micah presses the button and begins his travel into the past. At times later than noon, there is no time machine present. But at times earlier than noon, there would seem to be 2 time machines- one going backwards in time and one going forward, and these 2 would share the same space-time location.
I tell you, on the face of it, time travel depends on a host of tricky matters. And above, are only a few of the problems. But what if, just what if, there are masterminds from another planet that have discovered a solution to what humans call “tricky” time travel matters.