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Monday, 17 September 2012

3 minute philosophy - #heraclitus & #parmenides

in summary

- both lived in greece before the time of socrates

- both agreed the world could be reduced to one thing

- but fundamentally disagreed on what the one thing was

- heraclitus thought everything was made of fire because a fundamental property of the universe was that everything was always changing and the only other thing that did that was fire

- fire therefore became the uncaused source of change in the universe and the incarnation of the will - fire was god

- parmenides thought the world was a huge unmoving sold chunk of stuff and went on to use logic to disprove that anything could move

- when heraclitus sought to disprove the argument by moving parmenides argued that just because his arm was in one place one second and another another didn't mean that anything had moved

- parmenides arguments were a pre-cursor to the proven scientific principle of conservation of mass and energy 

- a more philosophical implication is the theory of the block universe - the block of eternalist universe is the theory that time and space exist as a four dimensional block and every event from the beginning to the end of time is set - so they are unalterable - so there is no change

- we can't step outside the block and see this no change because by chance the laws of the universe have dictated we remember the past but not the future giving the illusion that there is something called time happening and that something is been written

 - this is called fatalism and combined with the idea that every event is caused by a prior event we get determinism - which is incompatible with the idea of free will

 - the determinist therefore claims that free will (the idea that we are in any way in control of our actions) is illusion because every thought we have is subject to cause and effect

- the opposing view - that we do have free will - is called libertarianism - but its a hard argument to make as it requires the idea of something like heraclitus's fire - and agency or  source of influence lying outside of causality

- this is often mocked by determinists as the little gods argument - that we are ourselves are unmoved movers which can kick off a chain of events without being subject to the laws of causality (which is a power absolutely nothing else in the universe appears to have)

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