The Newtonian mechanical paradigm

The Newtonian paradigm of mechanics corresponds closely to the way humans experience time: we have a single consciousness operating in the present, the past is gone and beyond our control, whilst the future can be influenced by what we do in the present.

A game of football provides a useful illustration of this paradigm. If their team is one-nil down, as a striker approaches the opposition’s goal mouth with the ball, nothing can alter the fact that the opposition have already scored a goal. The past is fixed as far as the players, the referee, and the spectators are concerned. The striker hopes to equalize before the end of the match. In order for that to happen, the striker has to do two things more or less simultaneously: (i) make sure the ball is in a suitable position just outside the opposition’s goal mouth and (ii) make sure the ball has been given the right initial velocity for it to go into the back of the net subsequently. Newtonian mechanics does the rest, because once the ball has been kicked, its trajectory is completely outside the control of the striker.[1]

  • [1] Apart from any ‘Hand of God’.
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