# Maudlin's New Foundations for Physical Geometry: The Theory of Linear Structures

1. Top Mathematician
oscc

Has anyone here read Tim Maudlin's New Foundations for Physical Geometry: The Theory of Linear Structures?

Has Maudlin really devised a brand new geometry? What does it accomplish?

I believe he is a philosopher?

2 weeksoscc
Quote 6 Up 5 Down Report
2. Top Mathematician
fpyd

Has anyone here read Tim Maudlin's New Foundations for Physical Geometry: The Theory of Linear Structures?

Has Maudlin really devised a brand new geometry? What does it accomplish?

I believe he is a philosopher?

What do mathematicians think of this ?

2 weeksfpyd
Quote 1 Up 0 Down Report
3. Top Mathematician
bmmp

Has anyone here read Tim Maudlin's New Foundations for Physical Geometry: The Theory of Linear Structures?

Has Maudlin really devised a brand new geometry? What does it accomplish?

I believe he is a philosopher?

What do mathematicians think of this ?

It sounds dumb and not worth the time to look into. You’ll have better luck on reddit.

2 weeksbmmp
Quote 6 Up 2 Down Report
4. Top Mathematician
lyvr

I have not read it but I believe it is by far his weakest work. The reviews are sometimes painful to read. He clearly did not talk enough to mathematicians and historians of math. And the sourcing is very embarrassing. Burgess who does not mince words says that the project cannot be fully evaluated without a follow-up that shows the adequacy in the intended setting.

That being said, Maudlin is a very good philosopher and clearly has a better grasp of qm than almost all physicists.

pr inceton . e d u/~jburgess/Maudlin_Review.pdf

nd pr . nd . edu /reviews/new-foundations-for-physical-geometry-the-theory-of-linear-structures/

2 weekslyvr
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5. Top Mathematician
lyvr
[...]

What do mathematicians think of this ?

It sounds dumb and not worth the time to look into. You’ll have better luck on reddit.

Maudlin does not argue against a mathematical notion, he argues against the suitability of a mathematical notion in the context of a physical theory. The point is this: The basic notions of the mathematical theory in which physics is formulated do have metaphysical implications if taken literally. This is what leads some physicists to think that time is not real or that the direction of time is not necessarily the way we experience it. This contradicts common sense and observed reality. If we manage to reformulate the technical apparatus in a way that preserves its expressive power and elegance but that also allows for our common sense notions to survive a literal reading of the mathematical theory, then we have an argument for the reality of time and against its irreality.

2 weekslyvr
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6. Top Mathematician
bmmp
[...]

It sounds dumb and not worth the time to look into. You’ll have better luck on reddit.

Maudlin does not argue against a mathematical notion, he argues against the suitability of a mathematical notion in the context of a physical theory. The point is this: The basic notions of the mathematical theory in which physics is formulated do have metaphysical implications if taken literally. This is what leads some physicists to think that time is not real or that the direction of time is not necessarily the way we experience it. This contradicts common sense and observed reality. If we manage to reformulate the technical apparatus in a way that preserves its expressive power and elegance but that also allows for our common sense notions to survive a literal reading of the mathematical theory, then we have an argument for the reality of time and against its irreality.

Why would a mathematician care about that? It sounds even stupider than the boring stuff the logicians do.

2 weeksbmmp
Quote 4 Up 4 Down Report
7. Top Mathematician
lyvr
[...]

Maudlin does not argue against a mathematical notion, he argues against the suitability of a mathematical notion in the context of a physical theory. The point is this: The basic notions of the mathematical theory in which physics is formulated do have metaphysical implications if taken literally. This is what leads some physicists to think that time is not real or that the direction of time is not necessarily the way we experience it. This contradicts common sense and observed reality. If we manage to reformulate the technical apparatus in a way that preserves its expressive power and elegance but that also allows for our common sense notions to survive a literal reading of the mathematical theory, then we have an argument for the reality of time and against its irreality.

Why would a mathematician care about that? It sounds even stupider than the boring stuff the logicians do.

The project as such not so much but a mathematician might want to look at the reformulated theory and tell philosophers and physicists whether the goals of expressiveness and elegance are met. That is called interdisciplinary research.

2 weekslyvr
Quote 2 Up 1 Down Report
8. Top Mathematician
gwfo
[...]

It sounds dumb and not worth the time to look into. You’ll have better luck on reddit.

Maudlin does not argue against a mathematical notion, he argues against the suitability of a mathematical notion in the context of a physical theory. The point is this: The basic notions of the mathematical theory in which physics is formulated do have metaphysical implications if taken literally. This is what leads some physicists to think that time is not real or that the direction of time is not necessarily the way we experience it. This contradicts common sense and observed reality. If we manage to reformulate the technical apparatus in a way that preserves its expressive power and elegance but that also allows for our common sense notions to survive a literal reading of the mathematical theory, then we have an argument for the reality of time and against its irreality.

The universe does not care about human senses of "common sense" which are biased towards a very narrow spectrum of macroscopic phenomena. Basing an entire approach to understanding physics on such a premise is doomed to failure, because much of what physics attempts to describe is outside that narrow spectrum.

A physicist or mathematician would know that.

2 weeksgwfo
Quote 8 Up 1 Down Report
9. Top Mathematician
unkd
[...]

Maudlin does not argue against a mathematical notion, he argues against the suitability of a mathematical notion in the context of a physical theory. The point is this: The basic notions of the mathematical theory in which physics is formulated do have metaphysical implications if taken literally. This is what leads some physicists to think that time is not real or that the direction of time is not necessarily the way we experience it. This contradicts common sense and observed reality. If we manage to reformulate the technical apparatus in a way that preserves its expressive power and elegance but that also allows for our common sense notions to survive a literal reading of the mathematical theory, then we have an argument for the reality of time and against its irreality.

The universe does not care about human senses of "common sense" which are biased towards a very narrow spectrum of macroscopic phenomena. Basing an entire approach to understanding physics on such a premise is doomed to failure, because much of what physics attempts to describe is outside that narrow spectrum.

A physicist or mathematician would know that.

Yes plus common sense varies across cultures and eras.

How does Maudlin’s program further physics? Does it slow for new calculations ? Or new predictions or understandings?

What is the point of it?

2 weeksunkd
Quote 2 Up 0 Down Report
10. Top Mathematician

Has anyone here read Tim Maudlin's New Foundations for Physical Geometry: The Theory of Linear Structures?

Has Maudlin really devised a brand new geometry? What does it accomplish?

I believe he is a philosopher?

It seems Maudlin is quite verbose and drones on and on, but where does he say anything new or add anything? What is the novel Maudlin principle or postulate or prediction or equation?

Quote 3 Up 1 Down Report
11. Top Mathematician
lyvr

What a dumb commentary. Math syndrome detected. The point is that substantive conclusions are drawn from the mathematical apparatus. And the apparatus itself can in all likelihood reformulated.

Let me spell it out for you: There is no place for the direction of time in our best mathematically formulated theories. That runs counter to what we observe and common sense. Common sense is not some bad notion, it can change, is open to revision, informed partially by scientific discovery and so on. You could say it is common sense that the earth orbits around the sun, despite the commonly used phrase "the sun is rising".

If you would actually pay some attention and not just repeat what others have told you, you would know that there is potentially a myriad ways to mathematically model certain phenomena. And you would know, qua being alive and thinking, that mathematicians, physicists and philosophers are in different albeit overlapping disciplines. It is not the job of the mathematician to say something substantial about physical reality. Physicists and philosophers try to do that. We have reached a level of advancement in physics where more and more things simply cannot be tested anymore because we cannot keep building bigger and bigger particle accelerators. We thus have to rely more and more on abductive reasoning that weighs the theoretical and commonsensical appeal of theories against each other.

Here is another example for you: There are a number of physicists who claim on the basis of their model that our physical reality has 11+ dimensions. We have therefore 7+ more dimensions we ought to believe in simply because of some mathematical machinery. No experimental data, no everyday observation, just some math. And it turns out that you can reformulate this fancy theory so that it yields a different number of dimensions. Between two theories with exactly the same predictive power, you choose the one with less controversial/better supported (that includes by common sense, gasp) assumptions. If you manage to devise a mathematical theory about space and time that has as a basic building block some linear order you can potentially save the phenomenally unchallenged view that time progresses only in one direction. All things being equal, this is an advantage for the new theory.

But I can already hear the undergrad math major yelling: "But science is just about making predictions, no one cares about what we cannot observe!" Wrong. That is not how most physicists see things, it fails to explain the motivation for pursuing physics/philosophy and by that criterion you have no reason to believe in anything at the size of atoms.

The point is not that we can mould the universe after our liking but that we can grasp its fundamental nature better by coming up with theories that are in better accordance with the phenomena.

[...]

Maudlin does not argue against a mathematical notion, he argues against the suitability of a mathematical notion in the context of a physical theory. The point is this: The basic notions of the mathematical theory in which physics is formulated do have metaphysical implications if taken literally. This is what leads some physicists to think that time is not real or that the direction of time is not necessarily the way we experience it. This contradicts common sense and observed reality. If we manage to reformulate the technical apparatus in a way that preserves its expressive power and elegance but that also allows for our common sense notions to survive a literal reading of the mathematical theory, then we have an argument for the reality of time and against its irreality.

The universe does not care about human senses of "common sense" which are biased towards a very narrow spectrum of macroscopic phenomena. Basing an entire approach to understanding physics on such a premise is doomed to failure, because much of what physics attempts to describe is outside that narrow spectrum.

A physicist or mathematician would know that.

2 weekslyvr
Quote 4 Up 2 Down Report
12. Top Mathematician
lyvr

Did you actually read the book? What kind of comment is this?

Has anyone here read Tim Maudlin's New Foundations for Physical Geometry: The Theory of Linear Structures?

Has Maudlin really devised a brand new geometry? What does it accomplish?

I believe he is a philosopher?

It seems Maudlin is quite verbose and drones on and on, but where does he say anything new or add anything? What is the novel Maudlin principle or postulate or prediction or equation?

2 weekslyvr
Quote 0 Up 2 Down Report
13. Top Mathematician
bdhl

This seems extremely uninteresting, and also largely unrelated to math.

2 weeksbdhl
Quote 0 Up 5 Down Report
14. Top Mathematician
lyvr

This seems extremely uninteresting, and also largely unrelated to math.

Not uninteresting. And most things on this site are unrelated to math. And why do you feel the need to post on things that are of no interest to you?

2 weekslyvr
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15. Top Mathematician
bdhl

This seems extremely uninteresting, and also largely unrelated to math.

Not uninteresting. And most things on this site are unrelated to math. And why do you feel the need to post on things that are of no interest to you?

They are at least of interest to mathematicians. An umpteenth abortive attempt to "fix" the foundations of physics because the current framework doesn't conform to our everyday experience is of no interest to anyone but philosophers.

2 weeksbdhl
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16. Top Mathematician
nqio

Let me spell it out for you: There is no place for the direction of time in our best mathematically formulated theories.

TLDR. Sounds like pataphysics, but unlike OuLiPo, not a pleasure to read.

2 weeksnqio
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17. Top Mathematician
zlrq

What a dumb commentary. Math syndrome detected. The point is that substantive conclusions are drawn from the mathematical apparatus. And the apparatus itself can in all likelihood reformulated.

Let me spell it out for you: There is no place for the direction of time in our best mathematically formulated theories. That runs counter to what we observe and common sense. Common sense is not some bad notion, it can change, is open to revision, informed partially by scientific discovery and so on. You could say it is common sense that the earth orbits around the sun, despite the commonly used phrase "the sun is rising".

If you would actually pay some attention and not just repeat what others have told you, you would know that there is potentially a myriad ways to mathematically model certain phenomena. And you would know, qua being alive and thinking, that mathematicians, physicists and philosophers are in different albeit overlapping disciplines. It is not the job of the mathematician to say something substantial about physical reality. Physicists and philosophers try to do that. We have reached a level of advancement in physics where more and more things simply cannot be tested anymore because we cannot keep building bigger and bigger particle accelerators. We thus have to rely more and more on abductive reasoning that weighs the theoretical and commonsensical appeal of theories against each other.

Here is another example for you: There are a number of physicists who claim on the basis of their model that our physical reality has 11+ dimensions. We have therefore 7+ more dimensions we ought to believe in simply because of some mathematical machinery. No experimental data, no everyday observation, just some math. And it turns out that you can reformulate this fancy theory so that it yields a different number of dimensions. Between two theories with exactly the same predictive power, you choose the one with less controversial/better supported (that includes by common sense, gasp) assumptions. If you manage to devise a mathematical theory about space and time that has as a basic building block some linear order you can potentially save the phenomenally unchallenged view that time progresses only in one direction. All things being equal, this is an advantage for the new theory.

But I can already hear the undergrad math major yelling: "But science is just about making predictions, no one cares about what we cannot observe!" Wrong. That is not how most physicists see things, it fails to explain the motivation for pursuing physics/philosophy and by that criterion you have no reason to believe in anything at the size of atoms.

The point is not that we can mould the universe after our liking but that we can grasp its fundamental nature better by coming up with theories that are in better accordance with the phenomena.

[...]

The universe does not care about human senses of "common sense" which are biased towards a very narrow spectrum of macroscopic phenomena. Basing an entire approach to understanding physics on such a premise is doomed to failure, because much of what physics attempts to describe is outside that narrow spectrum.

A physicist or mathematician would know that.

Your foundational premise is wrong. You write, “ Let me spell it out for you: There is no place for the direction of time in our best mathematically formulated theories. ”

Huygens’ Principle defines the direction of time via the expansion of spherical wavefronts which only ever expand one way and never contract.

Perhaps you should write your book on firmer foundations?

2 weekszlrq
Quote 5 Up 1 Down Report
18. Top Mathematician
gwfo

Multiple theories have a direction of time. In thermodynamics it is an emergent property due to entropy always increasing. In general relativity it is a property of time-orientable Lorentzian manifolds. Just because certain classical mechanical or quantum mechanical systems display time-reversal symmetry doesn't mean every theory does, nor does it mean physicists believe in time reversal symmetry.

Besides, the real criticism is obviously from someone who has read that in quantum mechanics antiparticles can be seen as particles moving backwards in time and got very angry at this idea, presumably because they were a philosopher who doesn't understand that a model being useful and used is not the same as its practitioners thinking it is real.

2 weeksgwfo
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19. Top Mathematician
lyvr

Wrong again. Physicists as well.

[...]

Not uninteresting. And most things on this site are unrelated to math. And why do you feel the need to post on things that are of no interest to you?

They are at least of interest to mathematicians. An umpteenth abortive attempt to "fix" the foundations of physics because the current framework doesn't conform to our everyday experience is of no interest to anyone but philosophers.

2 weekslyvr
Quote 0 Up 1 Down Report
20. Top Mathematician
lyvr

Yawn, it is clear that Maudlin is concerned with space-time in GR. Looks like you cannot accept that you lost the argument.

I suggest a introductory course in phil of science explaining the basic difference between realism, antirealism and operationalism. I know you have not the time as an actuarian but then just be quiet.

2 weekslyvr
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