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From Illusions to Reality: Time, Spacetime and the Nature of Reality (Understanding Reality Series) (Volume 1) Paperback – September 8, 2013
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The Amazon Book Review
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About the Author
Vesselin Petkov received a graduate degree in physics from SofiaUniversity, a doctorate in philosophy from the Institute forPhilosophical Research of the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, and adoctorate in physics from Concordia University in Montreal. He taught at Sofia University and Concordia University, and also had a stint at thePhysics Department of the Johannes Kepler University of Linz, Austria,before coming to Montreal in 1990.
Vesselin Petkov is one of thefounding members and the current director of the Minkowski Institute(minkowskiinstitute.org/) whose most distinct feature is the employmentof a research strategy based on the successful methods behind thegreatest discoveries in physics. In this sense the Minkowski Instituteis without a counterpart in the world.
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Top customer reviews
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I have bought and read Mr. Petkov's "Relativity and the Nature of Spacetime," second edition, published by a reputable scientific book publisher, Springer, and "his book Intertia and Graviation."
"From Illusions to Reality" takes an unbelievable turn in the last three chapters of the book, where Petkov argues that there is "no free will" in humans and our lives are "predetermined."
What Mr. Petkov referring to is called "determinism," and a "block universe."
Encyclopaedia Britannica, 1961, Volume 7, page 275: "Determinism, the name given to the theory that all events, even moral choices are completely determined by previously existing causes, opposed to indeterminism or free will. On this theory an agent cannot be held responsible in the indeterminist sense, according to which a man is responsible if and only if he could have still acted differently, everything before, including his character, being what it was."
After reading the first two books I was flabbergasted when Petkov started arguing at the end of this book:
"In the Minkowski four-dimesnsional world, however, the whole history in time of every macroscopic body is existing at once (en bloc) there as the body's (sic) worldtube, which means that there is no free will in a four-dimensional world."
"It certainly may appear shocking that our life is entirely predetermined." (!)
"As on the spacetime world view Weyl's conjecture is the only explanation of the inter-subjective phenomenon of time flow- that it is the consciousness which creates our feeling of a flowing time - then there is no contradiction between the static four-dimensional world of relativity and our feeling that it is the consciousness that decides what our future actions will be - the consciousness only 'reads' the information about our actions stored in the brain at the consecutive moments of time but incorrectly interprets that fact in the sense that it is the consciousness which initiates our actions and because of that we have free will."
"All this may make sense logically, but how can one accept such a drastic shift in our understanding of the world and our place in it?"
Wow- well, first this does not "make sense logically" to me. In fact I do not understand Petkov's argument "... the consciousness only 'reads' the information about our actions stored in the brain at the consecutive moments of time ... ." What does Petkov mean by "... the information about our actions stored in the brain ...?" How can information be stored in our brains ... which shows that humans do not have "free will" and that our lives are "predetermined?" How does the "information" get into our brains in the first place?
page 124: "No free will means precisely that - that nothing depends on us and therefore we are neither free to lose motivation nor free to get depressed." (Wow! how comforting! We don't have to get depressed!! Is this for real?)
and finally page 125:
"It is quite evident that in fact, it is our physical bodies, whose life is predetermined."
What is Petkov's point? I got to say that if I was reading this kind of stuff out of context, I would believe this was someone talking about the "New World Order," just accept your life and your place in it because there is nothing you can do about it. I totally disagree. Humans have "free will," our lives are not "predetermined," and we can change our lives by actions we take based upon our "free will."
(from my later comment):
From G.J. Whitrow's "The Natural Philosophy of Time." On page 350: "On the other hand, the concept of the block universe in which events do not happen but are is more naturally associated with determinism, since determinism implies that all events are unalterably fixed and that which we call the future is just as unalterable as that which we call the past. As Denbigh (1975) has emphasized, if determinism is correct it would seem that nothing essentially new could ever come into existence."
And on page 348: "Nevertheless, as has been stressed by Eddingtion (1935) and Reichenbach (1956 passim), the theory of relativity does not provide a complete account of time. Despite what Weyl has said, the theory is not incompatible with the happening of events but is neutral in this respect. At a given instant E on the world line of an observer A (who need not be regarded as anything more than a recording instrument), all the events from which A can have received signals lie within the backwards-directed light cone with it vertex at E. Signals from these events can only reach A after the event E, and when they do reach A they will then lie within A's backwards-directed light cone at that instant. The passage of time corresponds to the continual advance of this light cone."
Pages 367-368: "We may therefore conclude that unless we live in a 'block universe' in which everything in our future is pre-ordained so that we are mere automata unable to influence any of our future actions- a situation that seems to conflict with our actual experience- a future event is nothing but an unrealized possibility until it happens and therefore cannot give rise to genuine precognition."
Page 372: "And to those who believe in what William James called the 'block universe' and what Milic Capek (1965) calls 'the myth of frozen passage', we can put the question: if events are eternally (or tenselessly) there and we merely come across them in the course of our experience, how do we get the illusion of time's transience without presupposing transient time as its origin?"
In response to the comment " ... demonstrate that past, present and future must exist together at once ...," seems to violate the hypothesis that the local speed of light in free space sets a theoretical upper limit to the rate at which signals can be transmitted.
Show me one observable system that does not evolve from present to future leaving a past. (added June 23, 2014)
One important implication is that it is our consciousness that is moving through the block universe. Petkov does not go so far as to say that our consciousness must come from the human soul or spirit but that is easy to guess. Petkov also argues that we do not have free will. This conclusion is easy to avoid if God knows all our future decisions and builds the block universe around them.
A second important implication is that the block universe must have a creator. The reason is that the things we find in the block universe are incredibly complicated. So, for example, even before there was any life on Earth, all the living things that were to come were already present in the future. (So there is no room in the block universe for evolution by chance!)
Both these positions are politically incorrect and that is why, at the moment, this book has two one-star ratings. BTW, for more on the theological implications of the block universe, see the book, The Haunted Mansion: Basic Christianity for Modern People.
The title says it all - bashing illusions from ancient times to this day. The author’s two main weapons used against illusions are logic and hard science. Although he does an excellent job in explaining the physics arguments in layman's terms, I had to reread and rethink most of them, particularly those arguments dealing with free will. No matter whether or not I always agreed with the author, I benefited in two ways from this book.
First, it is an eye opener - I have never suspected that so many things, which I take for granted, are illusions. Second, the arguments in the book made me realize that I need to master the way I think; to me this book is also a textbook of investigative and deep thinking.