Mershon Center Speaker Series/Philosophy Colloquium Series
Some Thoughts on Time, Totality, and Transcendence
Friday, March 30, 2018, 04:00pm - 05:00pm
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Jenann Ismael is professor of philosophy at the University of Arizona. Most of her work falls into two classes. The first class circumscribes central concerns of the philosophy of physics. Interests there include the structure of space and time, the foundations of quantum mechanics, the role of simplicity and symmetry in physics, and questions about the nature of probability, natural laws and causal relations. The second class includes mind, cognition, phenomenology, and the nature of perspective. Ismael received her PhD in philosophy from Princeton University in 1997 and held a Mellon Fellowship at Stanford for two years prior.
The problem of fatalism was around long before relativity, but gained affirmation in many peoples minds from Relativity. Relativistic theories confront us with a vision of the universe from a temporally transcendent standpoint, i.e., one that treats time as an internal parameter in the universe composed of events. The problem of determinism also had some early precedents, but received a precise expression with the provision of the Newtonian deterministic equations of motion. On the face of it, these seem like different problems: one has to do with time, the other with laws. And it seems that one can be a fatalist without being a determinist, and one can worry about determinism without being moved by the fatalist arguments. I will point out a connection between these two problems by linking determinism to totality and totality to transcendence. And I will suggest that this gives us some deep insight into the sort of freedom we actually have.