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Syllabus for Time Travel 2008

Syllabus for Time Travel 2008 - SYLLABUS FOR ARLT 101 TIME...

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SYLLABUS FOR ARLT 101: TIME AND TIME TRAVEL Spring, 2008 Instructor: James Van Cleve Office: MHP 112 Hours: Mondays, 1:00-3:00 “What is time?” wrote St. Augustine. “If you do not ask me, I know; if you ask me, I know not.” In this course we will study the nature of time with special attention to what various conceptions of time imply about the possibility (or not) of time travel. The questions to be pursued include the following: Are space and time things in their own right, as Newton believed? Are they systems of relations among material things and events, as Leibniz believed? Or are they merely constructions of the mind, as Kant believed? Do distinctions of tense in human languages reflect genuine features of reality? May time be regarded as a fourth dimension, on a par with the other spatial dimensions? Could space have more than three dimensions? Could time have more than one? Is time something that flows and perishes, or is it a static dimension of an eternally existing manifold? Do past and future things exist now? Are simultaneity and other temporal relations absolute or relative? Could time have a beginning or an end? Flow in a loop? Run in parallel streams? What do Special and General Relativity imply about the possibility of time travel? Are there logical objections to the idea of time travel? For example, is there a contradiction in saying that I stepped into my time machine and emerged an hour later 100 years in the past? Is it possible to change the past? If I could travel into the past, could I erase my mistakes? Prevent my own birth? If not, why not? Are time travelers fated to act so as to bring about what has already happened? If so, are we all fated to do what we are going to do? What makes me the same person as the baby my mother bore? Can we extend the answer to say what would make me the same person as a time traveler who walks the earth before my birth or after my death?
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