Does time flow?

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McGhoti
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Does time flow?

Post by McGhoti »

In his latest book, Science Ideated, Bernardo asks ‘Do we actually experience the flow of time?’ (ch 22). His answer appears to be' No'. Flow is not possible because actually we can only experience the present: the past is experienced as memory in the present; the future is experienced as expectations in the present; there’s just the present. All we experience is a series of snapshots; the flow is ‘a cognitive construct’, ‘an illusion’. I am not so sure.
First of all, illusion or not, this is how I experience reality, as a flow. Secondly, I find it difficult to imagine how I could in principle construct such an an illusion, how I could constantly mesh past memory, future expectations and present experience into a smoothly unfolding illusion. Just possibly if my brain were in fact a computer it could be so programmed (though I have my doubts). The ‘programme’ would be working and executing in the present. Not a lot of time to do this in the present. The present is not infinitely small but it’s not far off. The smallest unit of time according to quantum scientists is the Planck unit of about 10-43 seconds. Could the biggest quantum computer continuously construct such an illusion in Planck time?
But I do not see the brain as a computer and neither does Bernardo. It’s down, then, to consciousness to yield the illusion. Why would it do so? Rather, I suggest, to think that the flow is an illusion is, if not an illusion, a mistake.
What Bernardo is querying is the notion that time flows. I query this assertion too, but for a radically different reason.
Consider the statement ‘time flows’. What have we got here? There is a subject, time; then there is what this subject does, ‘flow’. This is a verb but can also be seen as an attribute of the subject. The presumption or hidden assumption is that the subject exists. There is time and what can we say about it (rightly or wrongly)? We can say, ‘It flows’, or alternatively, ‘It does not flow’. All that is queried by Bernardo is the attribute. The subject goes unchallenged. And if challenged, what can be said? What is this thing that appears to flow? A question which troubled Augustine and countless of thinkers since.
Instead of wrestling with a question which seems unanswerable, focus on what is known: flow. Bernardo himself argues that what is experienced exists. We do experience flow. Flow of what? Why ask that? Flow is flow. Time is a construct that emerges from the experience of flow. Far from being an illusion, flow I believe is an ontological primitive.
The idea of a moment of time, a present moment, is a convenient construct no less than the idea of a thing. So my question would be, ‘Do we actually experience the present?’ and my answer would be: No.
ScottRoberts
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Re: Does time flow?

Post by ScottRoberts »

McGhoti wrote: Mon Oct 11, 2021 3:12 pm The idea of a moment of time, a present moment, is a convenient construct no less than the idea of a thing. So my question would be, ‘Do we actually experience the present?’ and my answer would be: No.
I agree with what you are saying, though I would put it that the problem is BK's definition of 'present' that is the problem. BK's restriction of the 'present' to a point is contrary to experience, and I would say not experiencable. In fact, I would argue that going from a sequence of point-instants to experiencing a flow is equivalent to the hard problem of consciousness: how can a bunch of electro-chemical events in the brain combine to form an experience of, say, color.

Here is how I regard the 'present' (taken from my essay on Time):
What we have, then, is that the present "moment" is the mumorphic identity of change and that which does not change. I put "moment" in scare quotes, since it is an ambiguous term in this context. Is a "moment" a point, or is it extended? In this case, that is, in considering awareness of change, it must be extended. If it were a point (as in the physicist's model of time) then there is no way for there to be awareness through a change. Yet whenever we see a fly buzz by, we are perceiving change through some period of time -- we can even specify that the "present moment" lasts somewhere around a quarter of a second to a second or two. (Note: The phrase "present moments" may have undesirable connotations, as it suggests discrete events, while the experiential reality is that of a continual flow. A simile I find helpful is that it is like the contact that a tire on a moving car makes with the road. It is, first of all, extended: an area, not a point. But it is also continually being added to on one end as the other end drops off. Thus, one can't truly speak of one present moment following another as if one stops and another begins.}
Ben Iscatus
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Re: Does time flow?

Post by Ben Iscatus »

Bernardo himself argues that what is experienced exists. We do experience flow. Flow of what? Why ask that? Flow is flow. Time is a construct that emerges from the experience of flow. Far from being an illusion, flow I believe is an ontological primitive.
Our experience is limited by dissociation. The scaffolding of spacetime is an instantaneous construct of a dissociated mind in order to make sense of this perspectival experience - it's part of our perceptual apparatus. There is not really any flow at all, just perspective and changes of perspective.
McGhoti
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Re: Does time flow?

Post by McGhoti »

I did write that time cannot be understood but that is misleading. In my view it is important to recognise that there are two distinct forms of time. The first is chronological time. This is the time that most people think of when referring to time. It is the time of science and of modern life. This is a construct and has no ontic reality. The other form of time is kairololgical time. This is the time of happenings and activities such as breakfast time, harvest time, time for a new paradigm time ... right times. Kairological time is real time, I believe, and this time does flow - and it is this time we need to truly rediscover. See https://besharamagazine.org/science-tec ... k-in-time/
Starbuck
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Re: Does time flow?

Post by Starbuck »

ScottRoberts wrote: Mon Oct 11, 2021 9:02 pm
McGhoti wrote: Mon Oct 11, 2021 3:12 pm The idea of a moment of time, a present moment, is a convenient construct no less than the idea of a thing. So my question would be, ‘Do we actually experience the present?’ and my answer would be: No.
I agree with what you are saying, though I would put it that the problem is BK's definition of 'present' that is the problem. BK's restriction of the 'present' to a point is contrary to experience, and I would say not experiencable. In fact, I would argue that going from a sequence of point-instants to experiencing a flow is equivalent to the hard problem of consciousness: how can a bunch of electro-chemical events in the brain combine to form an experience of, say, color.

Where in his work/talks does BK define time as restricted to a point?
McGhoti
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Re: Does time flow?

Post by McGhoti »

I did not use the word 'point': ScottRoberts introduced it ('BK's restriction of the present to a point...') . However, that is what BK appears to say when talking of experiencing 'snapshots' ('All we ever actually experience is the present snapshot... ' Science Ideated, p.161). Now the experience of something and the thing itself can be different - so the fact, according to BK, that we experience time as a 'present snapshot' does not necessarily mean that he sees time itself as restricted to a snapshot or point.
In fact BK is clear, time itself is an illusion (along with the illusion of flow) - see particularly from 11.00). Is there any sense in debating whether this 'illusion' is restricted to a point or not? I would say yes.
Like BK I see chronological time as a construct. I stated that it has no ontic reality - that was careless. It does, because, as BK stresses, everything has an ontological basis: reality includes illusions and constructs.
BK used the enlightening phase 'Time is in us, we are not in time' in the video I referenced. I would say, 'Time is in us AND we are in time'. The time that is in us is kairological time, the time we are in is chronological time. It is important to distinguish these two times - otherwise confusion reigns.
Chronological time is the time of the material world; it is regarded as an infinite series of points only one of which marks 'the present'. Materialists would claim it as the only sort of time there is. The problem for materialists is that there are doubts about the real nature of this time (it could be an epiphenomenon, for example). I'd say, don't worry, just accept is a useful construct. Somewhat ironically, the points cannot be known (certainly not experienced) but what can be known, and what justifies holding the illusion, are the intervals between points. Chronological time is a time of standardised intervals, such as minute, hour and year. These do have a greater ontic reality than the points, they can be known.
The 'truer' form of time is kairological. It is the time we experience. It contrasts with chronological time in being a time of discrete 'points', namely events. However, 'points' is an infelicitous way of describing the constituents of kairological time because events have duration and flow. 'Lunchtime', for example is a kairological time. Chronologically it could vary in duration from a quick 15 minutes to a leisurely two hours but kairologically it's just lunchtime.
In summary, BK does seem to see time as a point which can be experienced, but for him both the apparent experience of time as flowing and time itself are illusions. Generally I think BK refers to chronological time. I do not see this time as confined to a point. It's points are purely imaginary, it's intervals have more meaning and may be experienced (though I'm not sure). BK does give a hint of recognising kairological time (time is inside us) but no more than this. Kairological time is the time we experience and know. It is marked by events which have duration - and so flow.
The tragedy is that we have submitted to being in chronological time - clock time drives our lives.
Finally, and to further complicate things: there may be two types of chronological time. There is certainly the constructed chronological time with which we are all familiar. This chronological time is the one discussed in this reply and earlier. There may also be a deeper chronological time. The 'surface' chronological time is a human construct. The deeper one is the time of the 'gods'. 'Three score years and ten' is a chronological interval set by a higher reality.

see https://www.environmentandsociety.org/mml/and-out-time
Hans-Werner Hammen
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Re: Does time flow?

Post by Hans-Werner Hammen »

"Does time flow?"

IF we are asserting that some-thing flows, in other words acts, goes forth, passes by,
do we not presuppose that it exists in the first place?
How can some-thing even flow, in other words change,
if it does not even exist, iow cannot change?
As a Nominalist, i assert that time does not exist.
Time ("per se = as such, it-self, on its own, in its own right, in its very essence")
is rather an awarenesss = NO-thing, elicited, made up, fabricated, from about:
SOME-thing... that DOES exist, literally, and does change, flow, pass by.
this some-thing can be called a clock.
In an object called a clock, a smaller SOME-thing, such as pointers,
changing, flowing, passing,
on a larger some-thing, mostly a scale with symbols on it.
Kind regards from GERMANY.
Hans-Werner Hammen
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Re: Does time flow?

Post by Hans-Werner Hammen »

When Bernhard Kastrup asserts "Time is [BUT] in us"
I concour.
He's assertion is - to me - just an example of the famous assertions

"Truth (property) is invisible TO the eye"
- all that we DO watch, if not even hear, it is visible or audible symbols on the paper, the watch, the towerclock.

"Truth (property) is imaginary, it is [ONLY=not before] IN the eye of the observer"
- it does not exist: It is not there - not per se, not as such, not it-self, not in its own right...

And, if time cannot be detected in the slightest,
we cannot assign, attribute, ascribe causality to it.
Time is imaginary-non-causal = epiphaenomenal.
It is fair to say that 99% in the people will revolt on this occasion:
"Time should-, ought to-, MUST exist - behold: We are measuring it all day long."

In other words, we are taking and telling the measurement OF time,
tantamount to a detection if not even observation of time:
"If time did not exist HOW can we even calculate time on the paper and measure it on a clock?

My sober counter-assertion is:
the calculation on the paper and the measurement on the clock,
the visible/audible "calculations" and "measurements" also being called "values" or "quantities" OF time,
each is just an utteration, a proclamation, an object-ization = reification = FAKEMENT, OF time.

My assertions above, they do apply for ANY, iow each and every measurable property,
also called "Parameter in the language of physics"
including mass and energy, forces and accelerations (gravity is an example of an acceleration)
The property is not a causal agency at its calculation, measurement, quantity, value = assertion = FAKEMENT
The object we are calculating, measuring the property from/about, is the causal agency.
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Eugene I
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Re: Does time flow?

Post by Eugene I »

I agree that a metaphysical model of time that is only based on the existence of only the present moment seems to be insufficient. Even if there is a change in the content of the present moment (which means there is a multitude of the contents at different "instances" of the present moment of "now"), in such model there would be no connection between the contents of the present moment at different instances of "now". There needs to be some way to causally connect the contents of "now" at different instances. At the very minimum, there needs to be some sort of recursive causal connection between each instance of "now" and each previous instance of "now". Once such connection exists, the experience of the "flow of time" can be explained in the following way. The contents of each instance is memorized in the "memory" area in the content of the following instance. So the memory represents the "snapshots" of the previous instances of "now". All those memories exist only at the current instance of "now" but their simultaneous existence at "now" creates an impression of the "flow of time". But in such model, in reality, the "flow of time" is nothing else but the memory of the snapshots of the contents of the moments of "now" that once existed (but no longer exist anywhere except in the memory, and the memory exists only "now").

I think "time" is a great mystery and I don't claim that this model explains this mystery. I'm only saying that there may be many ways to explain the ever-changing reality without resorting to the concept of the "flow of time". The "flow of time" may be real, but it may as well be an illusion - an unconscious mental representation or interpretation of some deeper reality. We really do not know. And, by the way, the modern physics has no clue either.
"Toto, I have a feeling we're not in Kanzas anymore" Dorothy
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AshvinP
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Re: Does time flow?

Post by AshvinP »

McGhoti wrote: Sat Oct 16, 2021 1:27 pm I did not use the word 'point': ScottRoberts introduced it ('BK's restriction of the present to a point...') . However, that is what BK appears to say when talking of experiencing 'snapshots' ('All we ever actually experience is the present snapshot... ' Science Ideated, p.161). Now the experience of something and the thing itself can be different - so the fact, according to BK, that we experience time as a 'present snapshot' does not necessarily mean that he sees time itself as restricted to a snapshot or point.
McGhoti,

I never really contemplated this aspect of BK's position before, but now that I do thanks to your post, it is a pretty astonishing example of keeping our immanent Thinking in the blind spot by way of abstraction. We will go to great lengths to deny what is absolutely given to our experience, which could simply be referred to as duration which expands and contracts in direct relation to the degree and mode of our cognitive activity. That is why the phenomenological approach is the only viable one here - as soon as we put this Time-phenomenon into the realm of analytic philosophy and try to deduce its underlying structure, it becomes riddled with unwarranted abstract assumptions. The phenomenological approach makes clear that it is cognitive activity that morphs our concrete and relativistic experience of time rather than simple "consciousness", "awareness", "experiencing", or anything similar. That is very important to specify, because it then allows us to see clearly the relation between our memory, our thinking in the "now", and our expectations and hopes for the future. It brings the phenomenon from the realm of pure abstractions into concrete daily experience, and that is what you also intuited is of critical importance in your original post. Bergson remarked, "intellectualized time is space", and that is exactly right - BK can keep Time as a mere "point" because he refuses to go beyond the mere intellectual understanding of these matters.
“It is your presumption that freedom is something which you already possess that ensures that you will remain in chains."
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