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ERIC Number: EJ1164156
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2014-Nov
Pages: 10
Abstractor: As Provided
ISSN: ISSN-1089-9995
The Geohistorical Time Arrow: From Steno's Stratigraphic Principles to Boltzmann's Past Hypothesis
Kravitz, Gadi
Journal of Geoscience Education, v62 n4 p691-700 Nov 2014
Geologists have always embraced the time arrow in order to reconstruct the past geology of Earth, thus turning geology into a historical science. The covert assumption regarding the direction of time from past to present appears in Nicolas Steno's principles of stratigraphy. The intuitive-metaphysical nature of Steno's assumption was based on a biblical narrative; therefore, he never attempted to justify it in any way. In this article, I intend to show that contrary to Steno's principles, the theoretical status of modern geohistory is much better from a scientific point of view. The uniformity principle enables modern geohistory to establish the time arrow on the basis of the second law of thermodynamics, i.e., on a physical law, on the one hand, and on a historical law, on the other. In other words, we can say that modern actualism is based on the uniformity principle. This principle is essentially based on the principle of causality, which in turn obtains its justification from the second law of thermodynamics. I will argue that despite this advantage, the shadow that metaphysics has cast on geohistory has not disappeared completely, since the thermodynamic time arrow is based on a metaphysical assumption--Boltzmann's past hypothesis. All professors engaged in geological education should know these philosophical-theoretical arguments and include them in the curriculum of studies dealing with the basic assumptions of geoscience in general and the uniformity principle and deep time in particular.
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A