PhD Thesis, UCL, 1995, Time and Reality

My original PhD thesis is now available online from UCL CLICK HERE for PDF
In my thesis I analyse the nature and the limits of phenomenal observation: the impossibility for the human mind to understand the final structure of Being or, as it is otherwise called by science, the Universe. This investigation was partly prompted, in fact, by the claims of some respectable physicists that we will one day know everything or, as they often say, God’s mind. My thesis is built around the central chapter (the third) in which I analyse the nature of our understanding of events. There I claim that when subjected to a rigorous analysis, the concept of event as happening in time and occupying a duration of time, is somehow a paradoxical concept. While on the one hand an event requires to be thought of as covering a duration, on the other hand this necessary duration means that whatever event we observe, is not what is really happening. This is because its happening consists in whatever is happening in this duration: certain subevents which when observed display the same paradoxical nature. Therefore, whenever we single out an event occupying a stretch of time, it will consist of knowable or hypothesizable subevents. But what this means is that none of the events singled out can be a real event, or we would have, ontologically speaking, a crowd of events all happening in the same time as the original event. At this point, I argue, we need to apply Occam’s razor, and this will involve denying reality (in a substantial sense) to any event phenomenally described. They will have to be either all real (as they are all of the same observational nature), or none of them will be real. They cannot be all real, as this would lead to an unacceptable redundancy in our ontology, so we have to conclude that none of them are real. We cannot even claim that each series of subevents is real at its own level, as we cannot accept that there are several levels of reality. Reality must be a fully fledged concept or it is useless, it cannot be distinguished from phenomenal appearance.


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