Reviews & Reactions
Magnificent, a true magnum opus...A tremendously important piece of work...A truly revolutionary book (not merely an excellent book).
Whether the book will bring about a revolution here or elsewhere only `time' certain or uncertain will tell. However, undoubtedly it will make, or should make, the philosopher, the theologian, the scientists and the political theorist sit up, even stand up, and re-think and re-investigate many hitherto accepted conceptions and notions of time.
Through the parable of the fisherman, the mermaid, the advice of the priest, the merchant and the scientist which constitute the prologue and epilogue, C. K. Raju encompasses a vast spectrum of disciplines, primary source and theoretical models in regard to the study of time. All this is accomplished through a smooth yet studied flow of the principal argument.
C. K. Raju penetrates into the original sources and the debates, to prove conclusively that `cyclic' time was indeed sacrificed. ...Of Importance is C. K. Raju's argument that these debates in the domain of theology influence--almost condition--and permeate scientific theories, old and new. The engaging fascination of the book lies in the author's ability to interconnect and to move freely to and fro in different disciplines and periods of chronological time. This enables the author to ask incisive questions and contest the many accepted suppositions about science, scientific discoveries and the scientists themselves.
Thus, does scientific theory and its postulates get intrinsically embroiled with the dominant +political and religious discourse? Is scientific theory then `context' and value free, is the key question which is asked by a scientist with rare courage and boldness....Perhaps never before have these dimensions been brought to the fore with such incisive sharpness.
He communicates complex theories simply, but of greater value are his illustrations on the extensions of these theories to other spheres. One such engaging section is on Entropy and Economics. Equally thought provoking is the section on chaos, unpredictability, and creativity...Logically, this discussion...takes Raju to examine ion depth the perennial question of computability--Man and Machine. ....after all the computation and machines which simulate and create virtual realities, there is that entity8 called `spontaneity'. The author acknowledges it. Some amongst his readers will heave a sigh of relief!
C. K. Raju's argument now reaches its penultimate state, where he ...declares `Using 1 and 1 to make 11 instead of 2 also helps us to recognize the mutual incoherence of the distinct pictures of time within each of the 'linear' and 'cyclic' categories--there are conflicts between individual pictures within each category. The linear-cyclic dichotomy is therefore incoherent and the crux of the matter is to resolve this incoherence'. The reader sits up again provoked into the question: 'then what were we arguing about all this wile in the history of science and civilization?
Discussions on incoherence...structured time and microphysical time loops etc. etc. makes him ask his final questions: what then is the correct picture of time?' ...It is at this point that C. K. Raju advocates the tilt in the arrow of time. This is not a mere assertion. Once again he enters systematically into both scientific theories and many philosophic and metaphysical systems. His range is astonishingly and impressively large. he takes into account streams of Buddhist and Jain and other philosophies...
Brilliant, thought-provoking and singular in its concentric circles of cyclicity of thought and presentation.
D. P. Chattopadhyaya
I am very happy to have gone through your very scholarly and thoughtful book, THE ELEVEN PICTURE OF TIME......Expectedly it has turned out to be an admirable publication...I do hope the book will receive due recognition in the course of time.
Don Miller (Time and Society, London)
This is a book with a difference, and the difference will excite some readers, as it did me, and infuriate many others.
It is a sustained critique of the dominant western faith in the linearity of time. Fittingly the author presents a non-linear book, with a prefatory encouragement to read in "bits and pieces" moving back and forward from the more interesting parts (according to taste I presume).
Raju's quest is a bold one, an excavation of the physics, philosophy and politics of time over the last 1600 years. We could add time's `theology' and `ideology' to the title. He gives us a holistic study of time.
What is possible to say about time or causality within a western Christian tradition is not necessarily the same within an Islamic tradition. That today’s dominant physics of time, its linearity, is compatible with religion - which is often said - either conflates Christianity with all religions or simply ignores the latter. The story becomes complicated once you look elsewhere, perhaps at Jainism or Buddhism. Even rationality and logic may be "cultural artefacts", and as Raju continues "deduction may refer to an insecure cultural truth rather than an a priori and secure universal certainty." (470) Many implications follow; but I can afford to mention only one here: "the truth of a valid scientific theory is intrinsically uncertain" (454) or as Raju elsewhere felicitously writes "science means never having to say you are sure". (12)
Central to Raju’s perspective is the obvious yet neglected idea that the notion of time is fundamental to both religion and science, each of which has influenced the other. ...
This unique book weaves its complex way through the subsequent labyrinth relationship between Christian theology and the physics of time. It is a story of the West. But it is a story informed by non-western understanding as well. It is chastening to discover, among all the familiar and less familiar western names, so many new names, movements and theories attempting to tackle the vital paradoxes of time and their consequences, not least for ethics. The author constantly presents us with complex distinctions commonly ignored; he reminds the reader, for example, of the significant difference between western Christianity and both Eastern Orthodox and Syrian Christianity in their respective understanding of time.
The webs of relationships Raju refers to undermine the assumption that theories of time are the product of objective scientific thought. Further, he shows that the likewise common assumption that the only debate is between two opposing poles, the linear and the cyclical models of time, is a spurious and meaningless one, and one which has hampered western physics. He illustrates eleven pictures of time; some linear pictures being incompatible among themselves yet compatible with some cyclic pictures. For both these lines of (connected) thought, this book will be anathema to many western physicists and certain theologians. Raju ends calling for a de-theologizing of physics.
Towards this process Raju argues that the most reasonable position after the advent of relativity - in which Poincare not Einstein is the author’s hero - is the idea of ‘ the tilt of time [a notion he apparently introduced in an earlier work, Time: Towards a Consistent Theory, 1994.]. The " tilt in the arrow of time" is non-mechanist, so the universe is no longer seen as a "grand piece of clockwork" in which the past cannot exist in the present.
The individual can no longer be credited for creative acts in this scheme of things, nor are priority debates useful. Value shifts from the individual to the collective. The tilt increases order and this "order-creation" becomes more the ‘purpose’ of life rather than a crude competitive survival. This has to be a cooperative effort so, rather than social and moral inequity, as in "time= money", the tilt " suggests a way of life and a social organization based on harmony, spontaneity, and equity". (471)
I may still wish for further clarification on certain ideas; I may feel uncomfortable about the apparent valuing of order over chaos ( and the latter term seems opprobrious simply because of the common yet misleading duality of terms); I may still feel inclined...to wish for further enquiry into the ‘repetitiveness’ of time, but these reflections are insignificant here. I want to compliment and thank C.K.Raju for what he has done in this important book. Future debate ought begin here.
(Don Miller. Retired from University of Melbourne (Political Science Dept) seven years ago.)