Safari, the world’s most comprehensive technology and business learning platform.

Find the exact information you need to solve a problem on the fly, or go deeper to master the technologies and skills you need to succeed

Start Free Trial

No credit card required

O'Reilly logo
The Singular Universe and the Reality of Time

Book Description

Cosmology is in crisis. The more we discover, the more puzzling the universe appears to be. How and why are the laws of nature what they are? A philosopher and a physicist, world-renowned for their radical ideas in their fields, argue for a revolution. To keep cosmology scientific, we must replace the old view in which the universe is governed by immutable laws by a new one in which laws evolve. Then we can hope to explain them. The revolution that Roberto Mangabeira Unger and Lee Smolin propose relies on three central ideas. There is only one universe at a time. Time is real: everything in the structure and regularities of nature changes sooner or later. Mathematics, which has trouble with time, is not the oracle of nature and the prophet of science; it is simply a tool with great power and immense limitations. The argument is readily accessible to non-scientists as well as to the physicists and cosmologists whom it challenges.

Table of Contents

  1. Coverpage
  2. Half title page
  3. Title page
  4. Copyright page
  5. Contents
  6. The nature and scope of this work
  7. Part I Roberto Mangabeira Unger
    1. 1 The science of the one universe in time
      1. The singular existence of the universe
      2. The inclusive reality of time
      3. The selective realism of mathematics
      4. The first cosmological fallacy
      5. The second cosmological fallacy
      6. Causality without laws
    2. 2 The context and consequences of the argument
      1. The argument and recent physics and cosmology
      2. The argument and the physics of the first half of the twentieth century
      3. The argument and natural history
      4. The argument and social and historical study
      5. Reinventing natural philosophy
      6. What is at stake
    3. 3 The singular existence of the universe
      1. The conception of the singular existence of the universe introduced
      2. Arguments for the singular existence of the universe
      3. Implications for the agenda of cosmology
      4. The finite and the infinite at the beginning of the universe
      5. The initial conditions of the history of the universe
      6. The unexplained constants of nature
    4. 4 The inclusive reality of time
      1. The problem presented: How much of nature exists in time?
      2. The argument in science and natural philiosophy
      3. Time as the transformation of transformation
      4. Attributes of time: non-emergent, global, irreversible, and continuous
      5. The proto-ontological assumptions of this view of time
      6. The idea of the inclusive reality of time restated
      7. From being to becoming
    5. 5 The mutability of the laws of nature
      1. Changing laws
      2. The conundrum of the meta-laws
      3. The problem of causation in the early universe revisited
      4. The best hope for resolving the conundrum of the meta-laws
      5. From speculative conception to empirical inquiry
      6. Implications of the inclusive reality of time for some fundamental ideas
    6. 6 The selective realism of mathematics
      1. The problem
      2. Mathematics as discovery and mathematics as invention
      3. The attributes of mathematics
      4. A natural-evolutionary conjecture
      5. The history of mathematics reconsidered: soaring above the world without escaping it
      6. The history of mathematics reconsidered: right and wrong in Hilbert’s program
      7. A deflationary and naturalistic view of mathematics
  8. Part II Lee Smolin
    1. 1 Cosmology in crisis
      1. The crisis introduced
      2. Temporal naturalism
      3. Naturalism is an ethical stance
    2. 2 Principles for a cosmological theory
      1. The roots of relationalism
      2. The Newtonian paradigm
      3. The failure of the Newtonian paradigm when applied to cosmology
      4. The failure of the Newtonian paradigm to satisfy the principles for a cosmological theory
      5. The failure of the Newtonian paradigm for elementary events
        1. Reductionism and its limits
        2. The uniqueness of fundamental events
      6. Relationalism and its limits: relational versus intrinsic properties
        1. Two relational paths to general relativity: Einstein and shape dynamics
        2. Relational purism
        3. Impure relationalism: a role for intrinsic properties
        4. Dynamical pairings and relational versus intrinsic properties
        5. The Newtonian paradigm from the viewpoint of temporal naturalism
    3. 3 The setting: the puzzles of contemporary cosmology
      1. The message of the data from particle physics
      2. The message of the large-scale astronomical data
      3. What questions are imperative, given the data?
      4. What features of the standard cosmological model are unconstrained by the data?
        1. What happened at very early times?
          1. Brief review of the singularity theorems
          2. The meaning of the singularity theorems
      5. What will happen to the far future of our universe?
      6. What is very far away from us, outside the cosmological horizon?
      7. The options: plurality or succession
    4. 4 Hypotheses for a new cosmology
      1. The uniqueness of the universe
      2. The reality of time
      3. Does a real time conflict with the relativity of simultaneity?
    5. 5 Mathematics
      1. A new conception: mathematics as evoked reality
      2. The reasonable effectiveness of mathematics in physics
      3. The unreasonable effectiveness of mathematics in mathematics
      4. The stages of development of mathematics
      5. Why is mathematics effective in physics?
    6. 6 Approaches to solving the meta-law dilemma
      1. Three options for global structure of the larger universe
      2. Prospects for a solution of the landscape problem in the three scenarios
        1. Linear cyclic models
        2. Branching models
        3. Branching cyclic cosmologies
      3. Cosmological natural selection
      4. Pluralistic cosmological scenarios
      5. Principle of precedence
      6. Universality of meta-law: reducing the choice of laws to choices of initial conditions
      7. The unification of law and state
    7. 7 Implications of temporal naturalism for the philosophy of mind
      1. Two speculative proposals regarding qualia
    8. 8 An agenda for science
      1. The agenda for observational cosmology
      2. Can the laws of nature be observed to change?
      3. The agenda for quantum foundations
      4. The existence of a preferred global time
      5. The agenda for explaining the arrows of time
      6. The agenda for quantum gravity
      7. The main challenge: resolving the meta-laws and cosmological dilemmas
    9. 9 Concluding remarks
    10. Acknowledgments
    11. References
  9. A note concerning disagreements between our views
  10. Index