Oh crumbs, of course I have to concede this is philosophy of time.
Time from a scientific point of view is pretty amazing, bendy stuff that isn’t stuff, as it’s made of nothing, but real none the less.
but time’s arrow, and why we have the sense we are getting closer to a point in the future, the sense of time passing, these are really interesting questions about time.
Philosophy yes, but questions for scientists to answer, I hope.
I wanted to start a post on time in the philosophy section, but it is convenient to tag on to Doug’s post here, because the nature of time and how we experience time is essentially a metaphysical query. Science only considers time as a sequence of moments in a linear order (clock time) and scientists normally do not consider other concepts of time. OTOH, we subjectively experience time as a sequence of “presents” and the “flow” of time as non linear. We intuitively know that we cannot change the past (we can only remember it), but we can change the future (free will) by what we do now. However, we cannot stop the “flow” of time. We can stand still in space (wrt to the earth), but we cannot stand still in time (wrt to anything). Why is it so?
From this website on the Nature of time
In the next few paragraphs I will show that time is an emergent concept. There is an underlaying process of motion and forces from which time emerges, however what we perceive as time is mostly an illusion. Our memory creates the illusion of the past. Conscious perception of events gives the feeling of present. Future is a mental construct patterned on memory experience of the past. Concept of time emerges as our mind tries to make sense of the world around us which is filled with continuous change.
Problems with the block universe, which is eternalism (the past, present and future exist):
Block universe theory or the static theory of time presents a few problems and paradoxes which need to be examined. If future already exists there cannot be a free will.
Even in the smallest duration of time there should be infinite number of copies of everything including the whole universe.
If time-scape is already laid out then what causes us to perceive these events and what is moving through this time-scape? Is our consciousness moving across time? What makes it move and why we cannot willfully move it anywhere in time?
Mc Taggart and the illusion of time:
The past present and future aspect of time is constantly changing, future events are moving to present and then into past and then further back into past. This aspect deals with feeling of flow of time. This constantly changing relationship is also essential to description of time. McTaggart felt that time is unreal because distinction of past present and future (a changing relationship) is more essential to time then the fixed relationship of earlier and later.
Is the present an infinitesimal?
Present is the most real perception of time however almost all of what we perceive as the present is already past. The present is a fleeting moment, whatever is happening now (present) is confined to an infinitesimally narrow point on the time line which is being encroached upon by what we think of as the past and the future.
Present has great resemblance to the sharp recording point of laser or needle while past being a duration or extension resembles the recorded material like tape or CD.
Present I believe is mental awareness of the recording of memory into our brain. A person may go to an event but fall asleep and miss the event completely. So that event basically does not exist in his past. Unless we are consciously aware of an event it does not enter our past memory
A partial definition of time:
Time is an emergent concept which our mind creates
It is due to the presence of motion and forces in the universe
Does this definition of time make sense. What do you think?