Jacques Maritain Center: Thomistic Institute

Time in natural sciences

Miloš Lokajíèek
Center of interdisciplinary studies, 12000 Prague, Jeèná 2, Czech Republic
Institute of Physics, Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic, 18040 Prague, Na Slovance 2


The time as well as the space belong to main categories of our knowledge: when? and where? However, while the space has been practically always understood by the natural sciences and by philosophy (or psychology) in a similar way there have been very different opinions as to the time. There are two extreme questions: Does the time belong to main principles of the life and of the being? Or: Should the time be regarded as something that was introduced by us to describe some characteristics of the changing world only? One can say that in the past the philosophers as well as physicists (and all natural scientists) have oscillated between these two extremes. As to the physicists they have being derived divers points of view from different models being applied to reality.

A brief survey of different opinions will be given and the time problem will be then analyzed in the framework of the extended model allowing to interpret the microscopic world in a realistic way. In such a light the time of natural science should be regarded as a descriptive parameter without a proper deeper content, being closely related to another parameter (derived from positions and velocities) characterizing changing states of the matter world on the fully physical basis. Then of course, the time is derived from the being and any opposite conviction should be regarded as false in principle.

The extended model gives also some answers to the questions concerning the time duration, time asymmetry, time invariance, and reversibility or irreversibility of time and physical processes, which may provide a new more detailed basis for philosophical studies of the notion and the role of the time in the human life.

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