Time and aging: A physicist's look at gerontology

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Abstract

This paper addresses the question whether gerontology can profit by relying on developments in theoretical physics and insights from the foundations of physics. After giving a brief overview on various aspects of the nature of time and age as discussed in the literature on the philosophy of physics, I critically examine an approach in gerontology (Schroots and Birren 1988, Yates 1988) that advocate the idea that aging is to be explained on a physical basis, by means of the second law of thermodynamics, and to be explicated by introducing an "intrinsic" time variable. I argue, however, that thermodynamics does not provide the desired basis for a concept of aging. Indeed I argue that the only lesson the gerontology might profitably take over from the philosophy of physics is to make a sharper conceptual distinction between the choice of a time scale and the conception of age as a dynamical variable.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)101-125
Number of pages25
JournalMind and Matter
Volume11
Issue number1
StatePublished - Oct 31 2013

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