On what we may infer from artistic and scientific representations of time
Caddick Bourne, Emily
We consider the extent to which artistic and scientific representations can give us knowledge of how things are or could be. Focusing on representations of time, we take two case studies: simultaneity and temporal order; time-travel to the past. We analyse relevant scientific representations – from Special Theory of Relativity and General Theory of Relativity – alongside relevant artistic representations – fictions which are non-committal about temporal order, and time-travel stories. In all the cases, we argue, drawing reliable conclusions from the representations requires an understanding of the metaphysics of their subject matter and of the nature of representation itself. If we attempt to work out what is represented from the representation alone, then, far from acquiring knowledge, we risk obscuring the representation’s subject matter. During the conference at which papers in this volume were given, there was much discussion over how, if at all, scientists and artists could collaborate to provide new knowledge of how the world is. We propose that scientists and artists should work not just alone or with each other, but also with (informed) philosophers. Scientific and artistic representations can be ways of knowing about the world only when supplemented by a philosophical framework in which to interpret them.