Does the Universe Have A Direction?
In questioning the universe, we essentially question the purpose of our existence. This essay explains that the universe has a direction and goal only when we view it as the same entity in the past, now and in our future imagination. To answer the question of whether the universe has a direction, we shall rely on the metaphysics field of ontology (Solomon and Kathleen p.7).
There are two sides of explaining the nature of reality, that of realist and anti-realists. The former claim that reality is independent of us and the later disclaims this fact. Realists say that there is a planetary system and a force of gravity among other features that make up the universe.
Furthermore, they state that the existence of these systems and gravity does not cease after we stop noticing. Much of realists’ theories do not factor in our epistemology of the things and events they examine. Anti-realists on the other hand must attach meaning that can be confirmed to statements of reality.
Objects in reality possess attributes that we can use in define and describe them. For instance, if we propose that someone is ignorant, then we are using the attribute of ignorance to describe the person. However, when describe someone else as ignorant, then we are faced with the dilemma explaining how the two persons, which in our case are real objects, though having the same attribute of ignorance, are different people.
To solve this dilemma and effectively discern single objects we have to see further than their attributes. In doing so, we have to rely on Aristotelians who have demarcated kinds from properties. The Aristotelians hold it as a fact that kinds are what the particulars or attributes belong to. So in our example above, the individuals belong to the human family and ignorance is one of their properties. We are therefore able to understand that the individuals are two members of the human family who share the same property (Newall para14-30).
The universe is our reality and suggestions of a universal direction bring us to the question of time. The presentism theory holds the view that only the present exists.
The externalism theory on the contrary denies the presence of now, and further explains that now is a mere reference point to differentiate events as they happen, such that Plato and other people in our past exist, but their existence is within a separate context (Newall para. 30-35). The above theories of time do not offer us much explanation that we can use in our example of the individual being ignorant. We shall therefore use the time theories of endurantism and perdurantism.
Endurantists view that the individual in our above example is the same in the past as well as now. Since the same individual belonged to the humans family and continues to do so. This depicts a characteristic of endurance. In the perdurantist view, the individual is different and changes or moves to another stage depending on the perspective of the viewer.
Furthermore, endurantists believe that only the now exists and the past and future are only possibilities, while the perdurantists see no particular significance in time implying that the past, now and the future and our imaginations are all equally real (Newall para.37-42).
In the realists and perdurantists’ view and also as observed by Voltaire, the universe and its attributes are meaningless and only assume the meaning we give (Solomon & Kathleen p.68 & 72). When we hold this view, the universe ceases to be headed in a particular direction.
Newall, Paul. “Philosophy for beginners: Metaphysics 2”. The Galilean Library. 2005. Retrieved 10 March 2011 from http://www.galilean-library.org/site/index.php/page/index.html/_/essays/introducingphilosophy/19-metaphysics-2-r36
Solomon, Robert C. and Kathleen M. Higgins. The Big Questions: A short introduction to philosophy. 8th ed. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Cengage Learning, 2010.