I have a hypothesis that the past doesn't exist until an observation in the present makes it necessary. That seems the simplest form of a universe. And nature likes simplicity, right?

The least amount of information necessary to create a perceived reality is whatever the actors in the reality experience at the moment plus an artificial history that is created on demand, as events in the present require.

My limited understanding of physics is that retrocausality is allowed. And of course our common notion of "time" is nowhere near what is actually happening in the universe. Physicists refer to space-time instead. Whatever that is.

Is there an existing philosophy or hypothesis that matches my idea that history is created on demand?

UPDATE: Reader Amit informs me that there is an existing philosophy that matches the idea of on-demand history as well as the idea that we are all computer simulations.

Rank Up Rank Down Votes:  +21
  • Print
  • Share
  • Share:


Sort By:
Feb 14, 2014
I think this would fit under the category of presentism, which states that the past does not exist in the same way that the present does. A non-existent past means that what we perceive as the past is merely a mental construct; a simulation of a possible world.
-1 Rank Up Rank Down
Feb 14, 2014
How many femtoseconds did it take you to press each key in the first word of that nonsense? How did the history change during each of them? Why didn't it change when you started to do the second letter of the first word?
+3 Rank Up Rank Down
Feb 14, 2014
This is actually one of the quantum mechanics hypotheses variations. That everything was just a wave function until the first observation, and then the history required to make what was observed collapsed backwards though time. It's a variation on the theory that the universe seems perfectly balanced because this is the one we survived in -- on this one, the universe had to have observers, because without observers, nothing actually formulated. It also suggests a much younger universe, in that there is some "retconned" history that actually happened all at once, rippling back though history.
Feb 14, 2014
That's the simplest form of the universe? That vast, vast amounts of space, energy and matter are conjured up and rules for their interaction spuriously formulated to satisfy our perceptions only when we pay attention.

The only way that could possibly be "simple" is if you've already accepted that the universe exists solely to satisfy our experiences, and some vast supernatural entity (i.e. an entity existing outside our definition of nature in a "more real" universe) is modifying our reality primarily to keep our experiences believable, but with some intention of keeping us ignorant of the greater reality.

In short, it's only simple if you choose to take everything complicated and abstract it to another plane of existence, which we are then free to ignore.

You seem to be getting religious in your old age...
Feb 14, 2014
Many philosophies recognize that the present is the only thing that exists in the frame of reference of the observer (which, except for some number of milliseconds required for the observation to sink into the consciousness) is almost the same as the frame of reference of the actor. Of course, your past is the present for some extraterrestrial being who is just now reading your comments.

History is the story we make up about remembrances of past events, so it's doubly non-existent. But, since real "reality" is unknowable, the stories we tell ourselves are all we have. So the past, as explained by history, is plastic: it not only comes into being when we need it, it changes if our paradigms change. For proof, look at the cosmologists' arguments over the years about the origin of the universe.

Feb 14, 2014
This is the second time in three days you've mentioned this idea. You KNOW that Douglas Adams beat you to this by about 40 years. (Not a question: a statement of what I am confident is a fact). And Roger Penrose (I think it was Penrose) tossed something like this out as part of a thought experiment on the Metaverse. So . . . Would it be so terrible to get dilbert a tie clip.
Feb 14, 2014
The mental gymnastics need to sustain this thought is unnecessary. Why not just admit history is a real thing, and can be accessed as necessary?
Feb 14, 2014
I live by Occam's razor.

The term Occam's razor refers to the philosophical idea or scientific principle that of any given set of explanations for an event occurring, it is most likely that the simplest one is the correct one. Occam's razor does not seek to offer complete and absolute proof, but to find the simplest probable answer to a question of why an event happened. History is like snow, all vapor until frozen
Feb 14, 2014
How would you test this?
+12 Rank Up Rank Down
Feb 14, 2014
Quantum Delusionality.
Get the new Dilbert app!
Old Dilbert Blog