"The future ain't what it used to be."

To paradox, or not to paradox. That is the question..



A lot of people seem to think that if you could travel into the past of your own reality(ie..you don't arrive in a parallel reality), it is possible through some action or other to 'alter' history thus causing a paradox. However, this theory has a huge temporal mechanics problem as I see it.

I would love to hear logical arguments against my proposal put forth by any subscribers to the above theory if any exist?

Anyway, the problem goes like this..

If you can arrive in your own reality, then your presence there has been 'scheduled' or predetermined. It's simple, if it hadn't been predetermined, your incursion would be paradoxical. You would effectively be altering your past by appearing in it.

..Basically, arriving in your OWN REALITY must be reliant on your arrival already being part of your past - Thus it is maintaining history rather than changing it. Now take the next logical step..

If your arrival is part of your own history, then so is everything that you do whilst there. The concept of 'altering' the past becomes totally irrelevant. Rather, the past relies on your actions. The only paradox would ironically be if you didn't travel back in time, but this is impossible, as your history proves that you do. Whatever action that you can think of, is part of the universe that has lead you to be where you are.

This could lead to the ultimate irony of a misguided time traveller attempting to kill somebody's parents, preventing said person ever being born. Their actions could actually be the catalyst that brings about the union between the parents etc..At the very least they would fail in their goal, at the other end of the scale they could be directly responsible for the cicumstances arising in the first place.

The act of time travelling itself would or wouldn't cause a paradox, not any actions following said incursion. If there is no paradox by arriving , there can never be any paradox at all in the universe. Time travelling would either be inherently paradoxical with every incursion, or a paradox can never arise.
Good point.

The only thing I can think of right off is that this brings up the "free will" argument.

If your journey to the past has already been "preordained", then the duration of your stay in this pre-emptive past is a series of events you have no control over. No matter what thought, idea or desire you engage in, you have no control over whether you can or cannot bring any of it to fruition. The only ideas you are allowed to have are the ones you are pre-programmed with. It follows that that this would have to be true here now also. This is tough for me to swallow.

But then...

If this involves a past prior to your birth, at what point do you return to the "present" you originally left? Can you stay in the past until you are actually born? Isn't this a paradox in itself? If you leave before you are born to return to the present, where are you in the meantime? Does this mean that in reality, there was a time you existed in the past before you were born, then dissappeared, then were born, grew up and finally returned to this past before you existed? Would this be a causal loop? At what point do you stop travelling from the present and finally allow yourself to grow old and die? Does your existence in the past then cease when you do?

If no two objects can occupy the same place at the same time, is it not also true that no object can be in more than one place at any time, which is what would be required by your scenario? I.e. - What is the duration of your "absence" in the present while in the past? We here now see you go? And return? No matter how quickly, it has to represent some interval of time to us here now, or else your in violation of being in two places at once.

This is all pretty tough for me to buy into my friend. For me, your very creative scenario actually leads to the disallowance of the situation in the first place, the further you get into it.

I re-iterate, if it can't happen, there IS no paradox. But EVERY manner in which it can be conceived still eventually leads to SOME paradox. The universe has NO paradoxes, therefore it can't be done.

Nice brain twister.
There may be a possible paradox should you meet yourself. I fthe past you were visiting was not a parallel reality then you would actually remember the event(And meeting yourself is not something you would probably forget) therefore whatever you do you will remember what you saw yourself do. Hope I haven't lost you let because I'm not done.
Meeting yourself in the would surely make you curious if you could change your past rememberance of the event, namely saying something different to yourself. That should surely mess with your mind and therefore creating a paradox in your own skull, not good...

Also if you go back in time to change an event on purpose you effectively create a paradox. In this new future played out why would you go back to change an event which now should seem right? And if you never went back the timeline would revert back to the original where you did go back and so the cycle of the paradox continues...

These two predicaments should point out the fact that if time travel is to exist so should alternate realities unless you go back by accident and never meet yourself.
There I hope that has been an enlightenment...
Re:Re:To paradox, or not to paradox. That is the question..

Free will is a very interesting question when discussing time travel.

What I'm actually suggesting is, rather than a 'predetermined' universe disallowing free will, it is created by it..I'd better elaborate.

You say that because your 'incursion' into the past is preordained it is pre programmed and thus you have no control over your actions. That does propose a real problem as you have noticed...Is there some kind of universal force at work that makes you carry out actions in a specific way, possibly against your own will? If this were the only explanation for the possible existence of such a universe, then I'd be totally with you on the subject. In fact I'd never have proposed the idea in the first place...But consider it from a different direction.

The actual cause of the 'pre programming' would be free will itself. The actions undertaken by said time traveller are the results of his/her free will at the point at which they are undertaken.

If I understand the crux of the problem that you are voicing correctly, the traveller into the past has foreknowledge of subsequent events and is thus forced into 'replaying' history to the letter.
Well consider this question..

From whose perspective?

There is only one person who can have INTIMATE knowledge of every action that is undertaken by an individual and why, and that is the person who undertakes them. But said person has not yet undertaken the aforementioned actions, so from the time traveller's perspective, they are effectively in uncharted territory. Just like the rest of us..

Even if you have foreknowledge of a chain of events, how can you be aware of all of the reactions to every seemingly unimportant action, staying in a location for 1 minute rather than 2? for example. This is 'Chaos', Where would a chain of events originate? What action would initiate a chain of events that are controlled by others rather than yourself? How could you decide what action to alter if you are unaware of this whole picture? How could you decide on a different course of action, if you are unaware of the original course of action? (speaking in linear terms).

How could they thus deviate from their 'pre programmed' schedule? Would it not be the same as 'deviating' from your future in a normal linear everyday sense?
You may be aware of 'history' in general terms, but not in terms of the complete whats and whys of your role in it. You have to experience for yourself to understand the intricacies that have added up to the ultimate results (but as I said, chaos theory scuppers this anyhow..)

This is all deeply ironic, so don't hold me to it..But you can only experience reality relative to you (your consciousness) once. You can only be on the inside of your actions the one time that you undertake them, time travel or no time travel (unless you subscribe to 'Quantum Leaps' theory of being able to jump into your own body in its' past). Whatever you do in the past, you are actually doing it for the first time from your own perspective, just like you are in normal life.

Refer to my ideas about being able to view the universe from beyond our linear perspective. Time becomes a meaningless limitation and you can perceive every event, every interaction simultaeniously. I believe this to be a truer representation of the universe, because it is not limited by our perspective.
From this viewpoint the universe is an unimaginably vast and intricate mechanism - the result of every interaction, ever occurring, within it. It makes no difference from this perspective in which order these interactions have occurred - the concept is meaningless. Among everything else, this 'mechanism' contains every act of free will undertaken by all of it's inhabitants.
If 'time' is irrelevant, then you already exist infinately, through every interaction. These interactions are essentially integral 'cogs' in the mecanism/universe. Being able to witness two manifestations simultaeniously of the same person would thus be some form of the true nature of the universe 'breaking' through the limitations of our perspective. This phenomena could perhaps be a side effect of 'time travel' which as I have suggested would be an 'extra linear' exercise in itself.

I don't pretend that this solidly backs up my hypothesis, because frankly it makes my head spin as much as anyone elses, but it is one of a number of theories on the nature of the universe that I find probarbly the most intriguing.

If you asked me whether I believe that time travel is possible, I really couldn't answer one way or the other. No one can prove either, least of all me..But as you are aware Lee, I find it great food for thought to assume, 'what if it is?' My thoughts on the subject are constantly evolving and so I'm greatful for constructive feedback..

Re:Re:To paradox, or not to paradox. That is the question..

That is a problem actually..(but then there is no time travel theory that doesn't contain at least one is there?)

I wouldn't be so sure that it's as simple as that though..(I suggest that you read my other messages)..in the mean time, consider this.

Maybe in one sense, we are both right. This may seem to contradict what I said earler, but try to stick with me if you can.

What do you actually understand time to be?

Is it a universal law, or simply the result of our limited perception of the universe?
I believe that it is likely to be the latter (my opinion, not fact, but based on the realisation that there is a lot more to the universe than we presently understand).

If so, then the act of time travelling may be possible by 'bypassing' this linear perception, or discovering a way to utilise some extra linear perception. From the time traveller's perspective, time would thus become meaningless, as he/she has access to the 'true' timeless nature of the universe - hence time travel is enabled..(Don't ask me to back up any of this with physics, I'm being purely philosophical..)

Imagine being able to perceive beyond 'linear perception', from the point of view of the universe itself, if you like. Every 'event', every fundamental interaction upwards that essentially form the ultimate 'timeless' nature of the universe are simultaeniously perceivable. You see the overall 'shape' or 'nature' of the universe rather than the limited 'temporal' perception that we naturally have.

Thus the action of meeting 'yourself' in your 'past' and the action of meeting your 'future' self are simply two different perspectives of the same simultaenious action. There can thus be no discrepancy as they are not divisable separate actions, they are the same event viewed from two different perceptions. The appearance to the linear time traveller, of having already witnessed the encounter on a separate occasion is thus an illusion created by our perception of 'time'. Our linear perspective may then also give the impression of a paradoxical situation, but it is only an illusion created by our inabilty to perceive the universe on it's own terms.

You propose a paradox. I'm proposing that, even though you may believe that you have the ability to create a paradox, it is an illusion. It can't be explained in human 'linear' terms, only in the 'true' terms of the universe itself - from beyond our concept of 'time'.

I suppose, that no matter what you were to say to your past self, you would remember hearing it identically from that perspective. You can't effectively alter your words, as the inevitable outcome would always be that you would remember hearing the exact same lines that you spoke...
This is what I mean about it being an inexplicable phenomena in human 'linear' terms. Don't try to rationalise it because you can't from that perspective.

It's ironic, but I probarbly wouldn't have thought of such an audatious prospect, if you hadn't tried to catch me out. Thanks very much..
Lee, just to add..

I've formulated what I think you may find an interesting idea Lee, in my reply to James above..

It's related to your last comments and to my earlier ideas about perceiving the universe from beyond our 'linear perspective'. Part of the message towards the end may cast quite an interesting light on the 'free will' question...

Thanks, bye..
Re:Lee, just to add..

Yeah, you got me goin' good on this one.

It may be a few days before I come up with a hopefully intelligent response or comment on this.

I'll start a new thread with a verbal 'pointer' when I do, ok?