Peter Punin – Group-theoretic Atemporality in Physics and its Boundaries

by Lev Burov

Dear Society Members,

It is my great pleasure to present to you a text by a philosopher of physics, Peter Punin, who expressed a wish to introduce his work to our society. His text focuses on themes extremely important and actual to the contemporary debates surrounding physics, namely, the extent of applicability of the extraordinary epistemic power of physics, as well as the objective existence of its main entities, the atemporal laws of physics. Peter has agreed to personally tell us about his text over Skype this fall. You can download the text here.

Below you can find the abstract and his short bio,


French philosopher H. Bergson criticizes general philosophy insofar as it neglects or even ignores the temporality of time. Concerning general philosophy, Bergson’s remarks are probably outdated, whereas contemporary philosophy of science does continue to encounter analogous problems. For essentially group-theoretic reasons, physics, despite the presence of a temporal dimension in physical spaces, describes atemporal systems. These group-theoretic reasons being at the origin of physical atemporality also ensure the extraordinary epistemic power of physics based on the possibility of distortion-free partial approaches, symmetry in prediction and retro-diction, experimentation to be repeated under identical conditions, idealization, renormalization, and so on. But the investigation field of physics allowing such group-theoretically founded approaches represents a highly improbable exception. So any tentative to transpose physics beyond the boundaries of its group-theoretically delimited investigation field unavoidably leads to the problem raised by Bergson: a time reduced to something without temporality. This point undermines certain contemporary speculations advanced in the name of physics, such as “chaosogenesis” and, above all, linkages between multiverse approaches based on eternal inflation and the so-called “weak anthropic principle.”


Holding two French M.Phil. degrees (D.E.A), one in philosophy of physics, and another in cognitive sciences, lecturer at Leonardo da Vinci Engineering School and at IPECOM, Paris, France, formerly assistant-professor at the Holy Spirit University Kaslik, Lebanon, I am focusing on mathematical Platonism and physical reversibility/irreversibility. More precisely I argue that in a material world universally subjected to irreversibility, no organized material or partially material entity could manifest/maintain itself without the intervention of essentially immaterial, eternal, and immutable principles existing objectively.