Archive for August, 2019

Time Travel Hypothesis

Posted: August 5, 2019 in Philosophy

A topic of interest to many people is whether or not time travel is possible, particularly backwards. Interesting novels have been written speculating on the possibility and TV shows have dealt with the topic with interesting stories. I have even written a short story speculating on the possibility. The purpose of this essay, however, is to think about the possibilities of time travel and some of the logical consequences.

Let’s divide the discussion in at least two parts. Either time travel is possible or it is not. It is easy to deal with the second. If time travel is not possible, then that ends the discussion. Certainly, there have been proposals that it is not because of a potential paradox. What if you went back in time and ran into yourself? Would there be two of you? Would only one of you be real? Would you recognize yourself? What if you were suicidal and decided to do it by killing your duplicate? Would you still exist? Some suggest you could not time travel back to a time of your own lifetime. A lame argument because if it were possible to go back further, the argument goes, then what would happen if you ran into your grandfather and killed him. That creates a paradox about your own existence. Or what would happen if you ran into yourself? What would that mean? Generally, these are the arguments used to argue that time travel is not possible.

Lets take the other point of view that it is possible, but we don’t have the means to do it yet. If it is possible, then you have to address the paradoxes given above and others that may be uncovered. There have been some borrowing from the world of science regarding the possible existence of multiple universes. This multi-universe hypothesis has been proposed as an explanation of some confounding physical experiments. I don’t propose to explore the argument for multi-universes. If there were multi-universes, then time travel might simply take you back to a universe remote from your current existence so that killing your grandfather would not produce a paradox since that would not change your current existence, only the outcome in the alternate universe. There have even been TV shows utilizing this idea. Still, this not that satisfying.

I wish to suggest another alternative that could explain how time travel is possible and will be done in the future. This requires an hypothesis about time itself. This hypothesis suggest that time is principally an illusion, like an optical illusion. It is a very strong illusion, one we have great difficulty avoiding if we can avoid it all. It is suggested that all time that we perceive as past and future is part of the same unchanging existence. We view time as something that changes. We feel the movement of time from past to present to future. Yet, it is an illusion. Time, like the other things we perceive is just an existing thing. Imagine, for example, that just as we move around in space, we change things. In the same manner, if we move around in time, we change things. Yet, like space, time is just a “thing” that already exists, past, present, and future, all illusions. If you are unwilling to entertain this possible perception of time, you might as well stop reading now.

If you assume that the space-time continuum is fixed, like space itself, then it is easy to conceive of the fact that all time-travel that ever will be done has already been done in what we conceive of as the future. Hence, there are no contradictions, no paradoxes because traveling in time that occurred in our perception of the future has already occurred, already changed whatever it was going to change. Someone can not, in the future which has already happened, change something in the past, which has already happened, because it has already been changed because there is no past, present and future as we normally conceive of it. So, time travel is possible, but all time travel that will be done has already been done in what we perceive as in the future.