My paradigm

Because everyone is entitled to have my opinion.

So, what is time anyway?

As I explain in my story, my views on time made for a turning point in my paradigm. Hence I figured they are relevant enough for a separate page. There are several remarkable things to be said about time. General and special relativity show that time is not as we intuitively believe it to be. And there are several interesting debates going on in in philosophy about what time actually is, or isn't. I will just point out some relevant points here, the ones I feel are relevant to this site, not the whole 9 yards.

Physics of time

Relativity is not an easy topic. In order to explain which picture of time that relativity paints, I inevitably need to go into some of the basics. Let's start with a thought-experiment:
Consider a train moving past an observer at 100km/h. Lets say both the conductor of the train and the observer have a gun. At the exact moment that the conductor moves next to the observer, they both fire in the direction that the train is headed. Both guns launch their projectile at a speed of 100km/h from the gun. This means that the projectile from the observer will move at a velocity of 100km/h, and thus will move parallel to the train (which also goes 100km/h). So for the conductor it appears as if the projectile is not moving, while for the observer on the other hand it appears to go at a velocity of 100km/h. The projectile shot by the conductor on the other hand; already had a velocity of 100km/h before being fired due to the movement of train on which it was carried. So the gun adds another 100km/h of velocity to it, resulting in the projectile going 200km/h (relatively to the observer). For the conductor on the other hand it appears to go 100km/h.

Now consider the exact same experiment, only this time instead of firing a gun, both persons are carrying a flash-light. At the exact moment that the conductor moves next to the observer, they both turn on their flash-lights in the direction that the train is headed. Now intuitively, most people would expect that just as in the case of the projectiles, the photons emitted from the flash-light of the conductor move faster then the photons emitted from the flash-light of the observer. However that is not the case. Both rays of lights will travel at the exact same speed, the speed of light! But that's not even the weirdest part. In the previous experiment, both persons observed the projectiles going at a different rate due to their own speed. However in this experiment, their own speed is irrelevant, when both conductor and observer look at the same photon (given of course that people could see a photon moving trough the air) the photon will appear to have the same speed both to the conductor as to the observer. But how can that be? Intuitively, one would expect that to the observer who isn't moving, the photons goes at the speed of light (=c) whereas to the conductor who is trailing behind it, it should appear to be going (c-100km/h).


So what exactly happened here? Well I'll start with the mathematical theory behind it. The formula to calculate the speed of a particle is:


Now in most calculations, the velocity (v) is that low that:
limv → 0 {(v/c)²} = 0
limv → 0 {[1-(v/c)²]1/2} = 1

In other words, the value of the denominator equates to "1" and we derive he more popular formula: E=mc² which is used for particles without velocity. That aside; if we look at the original formula, we see that velocity (v) is linked to the energy (E) and mass (m) that a particle has. As we speed up a particle to a velocity close to the speed of light, the denominator will approach the value zero.
limv → c {[1-(v/c)²]1/2} = [1-(1/1)²]1/2 = 0
If we now want to calculate how much energy would be required to speed up a particle in such a way:
E = limv → c {mc²/[1-(v/c)²]1/2} = limx → 0 {mc²/x} = ∞
So that would mean we need an infinite (∞) amount of energy if we want to accelerate a particle up to the speed of light (c).

But this is only part of the explanation. This explains why the acceleration of the train is not added to the velocity of the photons. But it doesn't explain why different observers each with their own different velocity can observe the same photon as if going by the same velocity relative to their respectively different velocities. In case the paradox of this is still unclear; let me attempt to explain it once more.
The first observer: Ob1 moves at velocity (x)
The second observer: Ob1 moves at velocity (y)
The speed of the photon as measured by Ob1: v1=c
The speed of the photon as measured by Ob2: v2=c
Classical physics would predict:
Ob1 calculates actual speed of photon as: v=v1-x
Ob2 calculates actual speed of photon as: v=v2-y

Now if both observes are observing the same photon:
v1-x=v2-y
And both measured it going by the speed c.
c-x=c-y → x=y
But how is that possible when we started by saying that both observes move at a different speed, so we already know that x≠y!?!

Well, Einstein figured: the velocity of the photon is it's distance traversed divided by the time it takes (v=d/t). When both observers measure the speed of the photon, what they measure is: the distance traveled by the photon, over a measured amount of time. Now since one of the observers (the train conductor) is trailing behind the photon, he will measure the distance traveled relatively to his own movement. The train conductor will not measure how far the photon is from it's starting position, but rather how far it is from his own current location. So in effect, the conductor measures the distance traveled by the photon, minus the distance he travelled himself. Yet he still ends up with the same velocity as the other observer! Now since the mere act of observing isn't likely to influence the space that the photon travels over, the only plausible explanation for this is that both observers experience a different pace of time. This is the only thing that can explain the previously mentioned paradox. Both observers study the same particle, the distance traveled by the particle remains constant regardless of the observer, only the time experienced by the observer can be different. Explained in formulas:
We observe that:
A) v1=v2
B) v1=d1/t1
C) v2=d2/t2
We conclude out (A)+(B)+(C) that:
D) d1/t1=d2/t2
But we also know that:
E) d1d2
We conclude out (D) + (E) that:
F) t1t2
Now, this isn't just theory and numbers, this is actually proven by experiment! The speed of light is the same when measured from East to West as it is measured from North to South; indicating that the earth's rotation does not influence the measurements. In another experiment two atomic synchronized clocks, showed a slight difference in time after one of them took a ride on a jet plane. Later NASA has repeated that experiment with an orbiting satellite to get even better, more accurate results. This part of relativity is also known as the twin paradox, named after the hypothetical example, where two twins are separated. One remains on earth while the other travels trough space at the speed of light. After the traveling twin gets back, his brother who remained on earth would be a lot older than him.

Philosophy of time

There are three major topics regarding the nature of time that are be debated in philosophy. The debate on tensed vs. tensless time (a.k.a. A-series vs. B-series); the debate on eternalism vs. presentism; and finally the one about persistence (=perdurance) over time vs. endurance trough time.

Tensed and tenseless time.
In tensed time, events or object's existence are relative to the present. They are expressed in terms of "used to be"; "is" and "will be". There used to be stuffed animals in my room when I was a child, It is dark right now, it will be raining sooner or later in the future. Events in tenseless time are not relative to the present, but relative to other events. Tenseless time on the other hand is expressed in terms like: "before"; "while" and "after". Clinton was the president of the US before Bush Jr. It was night while I was typing this. The cops arrested him shortly after he ran out the bank.

Presentism and eternalism.
Presentists hold that only the present is existing, and the past ceased to exist while the future is yet to come into existence. That means dinosaurs for example do not exist. Eternalists on the other hand hold that present and past (and according to some also the future) are equally real. It views the dimension of time similar to the dimension of space. Objects in the distant past are equally real as objects in distant space are real, even though we're not there. So the past does not seize to exist as the present moves along. This means dinosaurs do exist, just none of them are located now. Similar to how distant stars do exist, even though none of those stars are located here. Obviously both presentists and eternalists do not only have a different perspective on the nature of time, but also on what the nature of the present is.

Persistence over time and endurance trough time.
Endurance trough time or "endurantism" is the classical, intuitive view of how objects interact with time. In this view objects are wholly present at one time, and they endure in their totality throughout time. Change or movement is then an altering of the composition of either that object or it's environment. Some go even further and claim that time is nothing more then a man made concept to measure the change in the composition of said objects. Persistence over time or "perdurantism" on the other hand holds that objects have four dimensions (hence the alternative name of the theory is coined four-dimensionalism). The three dimensional objects as we observe them, are then actually only section-fragments or time-segments of the bigger four-dimensional object. That means that objects are not wholly present at any given time, but only a section of them is at the present. Change or movement under this view is not an altering of composition, but rather an illusion created by the succession of different segments. A bit similar to how an animated picture creates the illusion of movement by the projection of successive, static images.

Here's a representation of a four-dimensional tree with an apple. Of course this is not how a four-dimensional object would really look like, it's merely a visualization to help explain the concept:


Arguments regarding the different views.

Tensed and tenseless time.

In my opinion, this debate is strictly a matter of semantics. Both in tensed as well as in tenseless timeliness, events happen in the same order. Both tensed as well as tenseless time leaves open what the nature of the "present" is. Both tenseless as tensed time leave open what the nature of time is, and whether or not past and future exist. The only difference is, whether you choose to describe the time in which something exists/happens in terms relative to the present or in terms relative to other events. Some argue that the difference lies in the nature of characteristics and change. McTaggarts classic example of a poker comes to mind. A poker has the characteristic hot at one time and cold at another time. Since characteristics described in tensed forms are changeable, whereas characteristics described in tenseless time are not. However this can be easily avoided by regarding those characteristics as not intrinsic but depending on conditions. As an example, one could argue that a poker never has the characteristic of being hot nor cold, but instead the same poker is sometimes being heated whereas it sometimes is not. So alternatively we could say that the poker always has the characteristic of being hot when heated. Even when it is cold, it still has the potential of being "hot if heated". So even here, it's still a matter of semantics, that can be avoided by being more careful with descriptions. Either that or I'm completely overlooking a deeper meaning, something proponents of either view fail to point out.

As for the remaining two; presentism vs. eternalism and endurance vs. persistence; let's consider the different possible combinations:

Presentism and persistence over time.
Persistence over time is incompatible with presentism by definition. It seems contradicting to have temporal parts at one hand, and then saying that these parts are not existing on the other hand. Basically, the presentists view leaves insufficient dimensional place (or rather insufficient time) for objects to have four dimensions. So this combination seems out of the question.

Presentism and endurance trough time
This is the most intuitive view, that most people share. And although I grant that it could be compatible with relativity, given some modifications, relativity is still an eye-soar to this view. Special relativity is the main problem. In the relativity theory, we have a different view of space-time called Minkowsky space-time. Here's a diagram of Minowsky space-time showing us the twin paradox:


Rather then speaking in terms of present future and past, there are plains of simultaneity. These plains or areas in time are bordered by the speed of light. This is because the speed of light defines the difference between absolute past/future and relative past future. Basically, the difference is that in an area of time which is the absolute past/future, there is no question on which event happened first. Whereas for any two events in an area in the relative past/future, due to relativity, it is uncertain which of the events, if any happened first relatively to the other. Since time is relative to the reference frame of the observer. We call such an area, a hyperplane of simultaneity. Imagen the birth of a new star in our universe. Let's say that "birth" refers to an exact coordinate b=(x,y,z,t). At that location, from that time on, the star begins to radiate light. In other words it emits photons that travel by the speed of light. That light travels in all direction. If a star is being born at 5 light years away from you. It would take 5 years for the light to reach you. From the moment you can see the star (its light has reached you) the event: "birth of the star" is in your absolute past. Before that, it depends on the reference frame. If you make a drawing of space-time, you could draw imaginary lines, which works as boundary between all the areas in space-time that the light can and can't travel to. The area between those lines is the hyperplane of simultaneity. Because time is relative to the observer, we are unable to determine which if any, occurrences happen simultaneous.

Say an observer watches the birth of a star at point b, the field between points a,b and the observer and its mirror to the right forms a hyperplane of simultaneity.


How the referencepoint can change chronology of time:

(Image publisched under GNU Free document licence)


This doesn't make the theory incompatible with presentism. However, in order to make their theory acceptable presentists would have to explain how having a relative time within these hyperplanes can be accounted for. One possibility would be, to have different laws of nature depending on the speed of an object. So rather then a clock moving trough time at a different pace, it would simply tick faster or slower. Or perhaps the present itself could be elongated and compressed at certain places. Either way, further revision of the theory is inevitable. And the way I see it, we should not base our scientific views on our philosophy, but rather the other way around. Although I do have to grant that for now relativity remains neutral on this issue. It simply states the correlation in between time and space, it does not speculate on what lies at the core of this. But by occhams razor, four-dimensionalism is the most plausible considering these simultaneity planes, not to mention the most elegant.

Eternalism and endurance trough time
If Objects endure trough time, and are wholly present at any present, that means they are not present in the past nor future. So the only thing that could make this view eternalistic in nature, is if the fabric of time itself would be eternalistic. Here our theories are a bit more compatible with relativity, but still not quite. Because then the regions of the time in the past and future would be empty, unoccupied. So in our twin paradox, an object moving trough time at a different pace than the rest of the world would disconnect. It would enter an empty region of time, with the rest of the universe being in a "earlier" area of time.

Consider a satellite orbiting earth. The top left image shows this with a 3D earth and satellite who endure trough time, without taking special relativity into account. The bottom left is the same, only here we did take special relativity into account: by moving trough time faster, the satellite gets disconnected from earth, who is still in an "earlier" time. On the right are two representation of a 4D earth and satellite, the objects persists trough time. The top right does not take special relativity into account, the bottom right does. If the satellite moves forward in time, it will still orbit earth! In the bottom left, the satellite at t1' orbits nothing at all, since the only thing that exists with it "simultaneously" is earth at t1. On the bottom left however, the satellite at t1 orbits earth at t3/2 which exists "simultaneously" with it. The only effect is that they are no longer following their original synchrony.

 

 

Eternalism and persistence over time.
This leaves us with eternalism and persistence over time. This is the view I believe in. And which in most scientist's opinion is the most compatible with relativity.

Layers of time

Discussing time is incredibly challenging because there exist no proper terminology. Our whole language is build up intuitively from the concept of presentism. So discussing the nature of an eternalistic universe is practically impossible. Therefor I have come up with a little trick so that we can apply our presentism-loaded vocabulary to describe an eternalistic universe. Layers of time. I add an extra -hypothetical- layer of time. A time containing our time. The time we experience and the time we are discussing on this page, I call that the inner layer of time. Now imagine an observer that stands outside of our universe. Completely ungrounded and independent of it. It requires a bit of an alternative view on what a "dimension" is, as explained here. If this observer would also be outside of our time and space, since four-dimensional space-time is in itself a part of our universe itself. He would see all of the universe's existence at once. Both the past, present and future. But we have a problem there. When I say he sees past and future existence "at once" I am talking nonsense! To an observer that is outside of time, the term "at once", or more clearly, "at one time" makes no sense. the observer is completely timeless so he is never "at one time". Then again, the term "never" is time dependant to, so that sentence doesn't make sense either. See what I mean, by saying our language is intuitively build upon presentism? I have no straightforward method available to expressing the multitude of observations reaching trough different times by the observer, without using words that are in itself time-dependent. Therefore, instead of making new words, I thought it would be more appropriate and easier to make up a new imaginary layer of time. An outer layer of time. A time that our universe, as well as our observer would undergo. This way we can still use our time-dependent words, and simply clarify to which layer of time they refer. And note that whether or not such a layer of time actually exists, has no bearing on the correctness of our discussion. See it as a simple trick of words, to allow me to explain concepts more clearly. If this second layer does or does not exist, that changes nothing to the validity of my arguments. I would suggest simply putting an index 1 or 2 respectively for inner layer of time and outer layer of time after each time-dependent-word. To get familiar with the trick, I'll write down a few sentences testing this method out.

"Today2 our observer's curiosity made him watch his universe yet again2.  He was2 particularly intrigued with this one human in the universe, looking at that humans beginning1 and end1 at the same time2. He watched it for more then an hour2 noticing all the little details; how the human was first1 thin at it's beginning1, and then1 becomes wider2 (=grew taller1) throughout the remainder1 of its life."

What's your flavor?

Among the proponents of the combination of eternalism and endurance over time, there is still disagreement over some details of the theory. You have the spotlight view, and the growing block view. The difference in both views basically boils down to: how was the universe created, and what is causality.

The classical version, is the spotlight universe. You could say that the creation of the universe whatever lay at the cause, created the universe instantaneous2. The whole universe from beginning1 of time1 until1 end1 of time1 created at once2. And this universe is static. The universe itself never moves. This view, would have everything spread out from the start2. The four-dimensional objects would all have been positioned from the start2 on. You could say that the universe is2 set, like a stage with all it's props ready for the players to undergo. Of course how that stage was set, is purely speculation. One could imagine an omnipotent entity placed it as such. Or perhaps it took a while2 at2 the birth of the Universe for everything to fall into the most balanced position by laws similar to entropy. In this view, Change or movement is then merely an illusion created by our consciousness which moves trough this static universe. A bit similar to how a projector creates the illusion of a motion picture by projecting light over different static images. So would we also, by our consciousness moving trough the present create the illusion of movement within this static universe. Under this view, we need to think of physical laws as completely different than we perceive them. Instead the laws are timeless, and what we witness is only the effect of those forces, tainted by the illusion of time.

In the growing block theory, the universe is a bit more dynamic. In this view the future1 does not exist, while2 we are in the present1. Only the past1 and our current2 present1 exists. The present1 is the outer edge of a growing universe. And the time1 of the universe grows over time2. However, that means that the universe which our observer outside of space-time is watching, is growing bigger. The universe is expanding in the dimension of time1 while2 the observer looks at it. In this view, change and movement, and even physical laws and interaction needn't be all to different from our contemporary views on it.

What's your favourite?

Under the spotlight universe where all objects are static in time2, any changes that objects undergo over time1 are not due to an altering of composition, but rather a succession of different segments. As I said; the four-dimensional objects exist statically2 spread out over time1. So our fictional observer, standing outside inner layer of time1 would would most likely see a static universe, where nothing ever moves over outer layer time2. Nothing, with the exceptions of our consciousness if such a thing would be noticeable for the observer. So how come our consciousness moves along time1 over time2? In the classical view, where a body is not split up in temporal1 parts, a body is wholly present at any given time1. Hence consciousness serves no problem, it simply follows existence. If however the body has four dimensions and is spread out over time1, we would have to explain why our consciousness isn't also spread out over time1. Sure, you could say that in a way it is spread out after all, since you were1, and will1 be conscious in future1 and past1 parts of your body. And we might even have memories of being conscious in the past1. But we aren't conscious in our pasts1 right now1. Why aren't we conscious of all our different parts of our body simultaneisly2? Furthermore we don't even have memories of the future1, let alone being conscious in it. This is problematic, because contrary to the growing block view, the spotlight view doesn't suggest any significant difference between past and future. All these problems point out there is probably a duality of body and soul which is tied in with our moving consciousness. As I already illustrated, similar problems exist for the growing block universe.

In the growing-block universe, as I already stated: the laws of physics would then apply only during the present1. But that means, that since our universe is changing over time2. The concept of time1 needs time2 to work! You could say that: "The dimension of time1 of the universe is expanding over the dimension of time2". So time2 is no longer a verbal trick to make things expressible in language, instead it has become a real existing dimension. In fact, if time1 needs time2 to work, then time2 could in turn require a time3; eventually we'll need an infinite number of layers of time to make this view work. Well of course the problem could be avoided by proposing that "change2" would be different from "change1", and that the former does not require time unlike the latter. Next to that, we would also have to wonder why our consciousness is always following the expansion of the universe? Why wouldn't consciousness remain at one specific temporal1 part of the body. Like say, why doesn't it stay at the part of my body that occupies the date I was born. Why does it run along with the constant expansion of the universe? How is our consciousness related to the growth of the universe? And just as in the spotlight-universe, how come we are no longer conscious in our pasts? Again the most probable solution seems to be mind-body duality.

It's time for free will

A different challenge posed by the strict eternalistic view is one about free will. If the future1 is equally existing as the past1 and present1. The distinction we make of past1, present1 and future1 would then be nothing more then a relative reference to the movement in time2 and trough time1 of our consciousness, the movement trough our four-dimensional body. Now, if the future1 is already2 set, while2 our consciousness is still2 in the present1; then we're dealing with a strictly deterministic universe. And we do not only have to reconsider the concept of free will, but also the concept of causality. Causality holds, that in any action and it's reaction, the former1 influences the latter1. But how does that causality hold ground in time2? Well that depends on the flavour; spotlight or growing block.

To answer this challenge, let's look at causality a bit deeper. If time1 itself is created by big bang and is expending over time2 in a similar fashion as space is constantly expending, then we are dealing with the growing block theory again. Here the future is still unset, and there is not really a conflict. If on the other hand the universe originated instantaneous2, in its totality. Then causality is an illusion to. You can find more about the illusion of causality here. Either way, the point is, the passing trough of our consciousness does then not affect the world directly. Not only movement is an illusion, but causality is also an illusion created by our consciousness moving trough our four-dimensional body. When1 you decide to lift your arm, your arm is already2 lifted. It is not your conscious decision itself that lifts it, it is already2 lifted. So either choice isn't really free, or alternatively the stage is set just right in advance2 to fit your choice when2 your consciousness passes at the time1 that you make the choice. So this of course depends on what you believe created the universe. If you believe the universe was created by an omnipotent being, it makes perfect sense for him to create this universe "just right" to fit your free will. Creating this universe any other way would defeat the purpose of giving you free will in the first place. So my point in this paragraph is, one cannot argue that free will is impossible due to causality, since causality itself needs to be redefined under this new picture of time.  

Time travelers paradox

Yet another challenge to the theory, is the possibility of time travel. It might sound absurd, but many scientists consider time travel possible. And if the universe is indeed eternalistic, why shouldn't there be a way to reach zones in time that are in the "past" relatively to the currant temporal location of our consciousness? So let us consider the time travelers paradox. In a nutshell, this paradox would be: travel back in time to your birth and kill yourself. This should change the past so that you never grow up. But if you never grow up, then you can't travel back either, hence you aren't killed in the first place, and so on...  So, how does this view affect the time travelers paradox? Well it practically solves it, but by solving it it poses some other challenges. But let's not get ahead of ourselves. How does eternalism and four-dimensionalism solve it? Well, first of all its important to recognize that time travel presupposes eternalism. For if the past ceases to exit, there isn't anything to travel back to in the first place. I already demonstrated how eternalism is incompatible with endurance over time, so based on that argument, time travel would also presuppose endurance over time. This leaves us with two competing possibilities, the growing block theory and the spotlight theory.

In the spotlight view, changing your past is impossible. Remember that the whole universe was created instantanous2 from begining1 to end1. Consider our observer again, what is he looking at? When2 would he see you changing your past? How would an event that is inside time1 change time1 over time2? In other words, how can an event in time1 have a bearing on time2. What would begin2 this change? Our observer would wonder, why did it change right now2, why didn't it changer sooner2? The human I'm observing has always2 been traveling trough time1. He was doing that when I looked yesterday2 to. So, it would seem impossible for us to change our past since our universe is static over time2; unless of course the universe includes both alternative realities. But in that case I could argue that the time traveler doesn't really travel back in time, but instead travels to an alternative reality. And we'd still have to wonder which path our consciousness will eventually end up on. So the challenge that we have here is: if altering the past is impossible, and we at some point in the future gain the knowledge on how to travel back in time, what would prevent us from attempting to change time? Again the theory would be in dire need of a regulating omnipotent entity.

In the growing block view, the past might be changeable, but there it has no conflict either. Changes made to the past would not be carried over to the present, any more then blocking the tracks of train after that the train has already left the station will not stop it. In the growing block theory, causality exists in the present, so there's no reason to believe that "destroying" the past would be carried over.

Inconclusiveness of the deductions

In a recent discussion, someone pointed out a flaw in my deductions, namely a slippery slope. The flaw is, in the last conclusion along the line, that there is an apparent duality between consciousness and the body, since one persist over time whereas the other endures trough it. The flaw is that I overlooked an alternative possibility, where consciousness is instantiated at any time. This would mean that consciousness would also be persisting over time and there is thus no necessity for duality. The continuity in consciousness, is then nothing more then an illusion. Similar to how movement is an illusion created by the succession of different temporal parts of the four-dimensional body being positioned differently, likewise would the movement of consciousness be an illusion created by succession of different states of consciousnesses directly created by slightly differently arranged temporal parts of the physical brain.

Now, although I'm reluctant to accept the alternative view for various reasons; in all fairness I have to admit it is very plausible, and that the mere possibility renders my proof inconclusive. We are with our current knowledge of science and neurology simply unable to deduce which of those two possibilities -if any- is accurate. However that's not the end of it. Although I now acknowledge my philosophical proof as inconclusive, I shall still attempt to illustrate why I find my deduction more plausible as opposed to the alternative.

Rejection of consciousness persisting over time.

As I said, even though I recognize and acknowledge the alternative, I remain reluctant to accept it. I have plenty reason for that, I shall begin by showing my reason for my inclination against it, starting from strong to weak, and finally finish by showing why Ockhams razor isn't able to defend the alternative.

1. Flaw of illusion of continuity.
I explained in the previous sections, how movement is an illusion created by the succession of alternated positions. So it is only logical that defenders of the alternative would use my own argument against me, and say that likewise the continuity of consciousness is an illusion by the succession of altered consciousness. However, there's a kink in the cable there. The reason that movement could very well be an illusion brought by the succession of parts with altered positions relies on the succession of observation of those parts. If consciousness itself persists, then the theory would break down. What keeps our observations together? Well I'm anticipating that opponents would suggest the following reply to this problem:
"Every observation is stored into the brain, and at any instant when our consciousness is being generated, it is affected by these stored memories. So the illusion of succession is created by the chronological storage of events within our memory."
Now, although I have to grant that this possibility is possible, I don't consider it very plausible. The brain works with a neural network. Memories are not preserved in chronological order within it. People might store dates and reference in time, but the memories themselves aren't classified by time. So piecing together chronology would be quite a challenging puzzle for our subconscious. Therefore the suggestion that our notion of continuity is constantly being caused by the instantiation of a consciousness which relies on the chronology of our memories is very unlikely; simply because memories aren't stored chronologically.

2. Psychological relativity of passage of time and observational relativity of passage of time.
I've already explained how time is relative according to Einstein's relativity theory. However relativity of time can refer to two other types of relativity. Based on our constant passive passage trough in time, mankind has become able to somewhat estimate lengths of time without equipment. However those estimations of time are often inaccurate by one of the following two reasons. The first one is psychological. A person who is exited probably feels as though time moves faster,  as opposed to when he's bored and time appears to move slower. This will cause him to estimate exciting events as shorter then they actually were and boring events as longer. Another example of psychological influence is the age. If you ask a 5 year old to wait one year, it will seem much longer to him as opposed to asking a 50 year old person. The reason a year of time seems so much longer is simply a matter of proportions. To the 5 year old "a year" is a 5th of his current lifespan, whereas to a 50 year old, it is only one 50th of his total lifespan. Now I grant that proponents of conscious persisting over time, might use this in their favor. For they might claim this as an indication that an instantiated consciousness based on memory isn't that far fetched after all. However, consider this: If time appears to go slower, simply because there are a lesser amount of memories during a dull event to mark the passage of time, then how do you explain spacing out? As I explain in the page about my story I frequently experience moments where I am indulged into thought. One thought triggers the other, and before I have realized it, hours can have passed while it seemed as just a few minutes. If our concept of time and continuity trough time really is generated by the instantiation of consciousness based on memories, then a length of time which is crammed by a whole range of different meaningful thoughts should appear to be longer then it actually is, as opposed to appear shorter. No, to me it seems much more plausible that our estimation of time comes from a conscious judgement rather then the other way around, our consciousness depending on an estimation of time.

This is illustrated far more by a third relativity of passage of time. Next to Einstein's relativity of time, and psychological estimations of time, there is a third kind of relativity of time. The neurological relativity of time. Our brain is dependent on impulses, these impulses however aren't always going at the same speed. Certain substances, (like caffeine for example) can speed up or slow down their speed. When they are slowed down, we would have a different estimation of time, however we would still have the same amount of memories! Slowing down the process of storing memories doesn't alter the number of memories that we store, it simply delays them. So if our conscious would be instantiated at any time, we wouldn't notice the effect of caffeine, or the lack thereof in the morning.

3. Necessity and uselessness of consciousness.
If our consciousness is constantly instantiated and then evaporates, can it influence our choices? Or manifest a will? It would be merely a side-effect, and not the cause of anything. I'm not saying that under this view we would be devoid of any will, but rather that our will would manifest itself, completely separated from our consciousness. Therefore I hold that under this view, consciousness is completely and utterly useless. Then I wonder, why do we have it? Both creationists and evolutionists would struggle to answer, a God wouldn't have created it if it was useless, and evolution wouldn't have favoured it if it was useless. Again, I'm forced to grant the mere possibility; although I do find that very implausible.

4. Lucid dreams.
I've had lucid dreams, since childhood on. Only recently though, have I become aware off the technical term for it. For those who are unfamiliar with it, a lucid dream is a dream where you are aware of your dream environment. A dream where you are aware that you are in fact dreaming. Now there are a few things to note about this. First of all let us consider the difference in memories of dreams and actual events. Although we are not always lucid in our dreams, we are usually able to distinguish our dreams from our real life once we are awake. That suggests that memories of dreams are stored differently as opposed to memories of real events. And, that's not that hard to understand, considering that all our impulses originate differently while dreaming. You don't actually hear with your physical ears, or see with your eyes when you are dreaming. The impulses are not generated from these organs. Now since dreams can be lucid, we need to explain why we can be conscious during our dreams as well. I think it would be quite a stretch to argue that despite of this previously mentioned difference in storage, our instantiated consciousness is affected by these memories all the same. So again the instantiated consciousness is problematic in explaining these events.
In case the proponents would argue that lucid dreams is nothing more then a side effect of a sort of malfunction of the brain, where it stores memories on the wrong location; I would reply that that is unlikely due to the fact that there are many training techniques to increase the chance of having lucid dreams. And all of these techniques are very simple things, focussed on awareness, not the kind of thing that would mess up your hardwiring.
Yet another interesting thing to consider, is how one can become lucid during regular dreams. Most of the time, I have become lucid due to reality checks. To give an example; the other day I dreamed it was the first day of school after a vacation period. I arrived at school and after a short reception, while it struck me odd that everybody left, I checked my watch to discover it was only 6:30. Way to early for school. But wait a minute, if it's 6:30 now, then that reception would have been at 6 o'clock in the morning? Wait, maybe I'm dreaming then? As you can see, I became lucid because of the illogical chain of events. Now what's so interesting about it, is that I graduated several years ago. If I would have been able to remember just one of my memories from graduation, or anything past it, I would have immediately realized it was a dream, yet all the same I did have to rely on this complicated reality check instead of simply accessing my memories. As a matter of fact, I don't think people even have access to their memory during dreams. Sure, the dream itself might be influenced by memories, but within your dream-environment, you have no access to your memory. Not even in a lucid dream. If a consciousness would truly be generated based on the physical state of the brain, including it's memories, that would imply that memories are intrinsic to consciousness! A consciousness without memories is thus a rather troublesome concept for this  "instantiated consciousness" theory.
A third argument could be made, based on the premise that consciousness exists only in lucid dreams. Some might argue that even when you are not lucid, you still have a primitive form of consciousness, but most people see lucid dreams as a synonym for conscious dreams. Perhaps the difference of opinion lies in the semantical value of "consciousness". Either way, if only lucid dreams are conscious, it's interesting that they can be triggered by reality checks. If human consciousness would be instantiated as mere side effect of brain activity, like proponents of persistence of consciousness over time claim, then why can this side effect be "switched on" by a subconscious thought process?  

5. Deja vu/flashback/vision.
This isn't really an argument in favor of my position, but still relevant enough to mention, since I will later refer to it while defeating the defence of the alternative by Ocham's razor. There are many theories attempting to explain phenomena like Deja vu's, flashbacks and visions. I'm not going to pretend I know which one -if any- of them is correct. The only reason I brought it up is to illustrate how these phenomena's can be explained a lot easier when consciousness is enduring trough time rather then persisting over time. These phenomenas would then be nothing more then asynchronous movement. I'm not claiming this to be an elegant explanation, just a simple one.

6. Problems with identity.
This also isn't really an argument, but just something I'd like the readers to take into consideration. And it isn't really anything that is unique for four-dimensionalism, because the consideration can easily be made without considering time. If at any time your consciousness is instantiated, that means each temporal consciousness exists on it's own. There is no connectivity between different consciousness except then that they are formed by temporal parts of the same four-dimensional body. But consider material nihilism for a moment. Material nihilism, says that a body or object made up out of smaller parts isn't really an entity. We only define it as being a "thing" for practical reasons. The argument goes, matter is not fluent but exists out of compositions of smaller particles. These particles aren't truly linked to one another, instead they are held in position by force fields. So different parts are physically speaking not connected. One could argue the same is true not only for our spatial parts, but also for our temporal parts. Even more problematic for our concept of identity is that our particles aren't always our particles. Well that's not really accurate under the theory of four-dimensionalism, but let me explain what I mean. Consider the well known paradox of the ship of Theseus. A ship that's resting in the harbor decays, but its planks are constantly repaired by newer ones until eventually none of the original are left. The original planks aren't thrown away either, they are kept and reassembled as a new ship called "plank". Now materialistic nihilism is the only thing that makes any sense here. Considering the life of one plank, it's temporal parts from the past are part of the ship of Theseus, and it's temporal parts of the present are parts of the ship plank. Only this way does identity make sense. For years philosophers have defended the idea of identity by one last sacred part of our bodies, our consciousness. "I think, therefore I am." goes the popular argument. If however consciousness also persists over time, even that argument breaks down. Human kind would suffer some sort of identity crisis. Why feel bad of your past or work for a better future, when "you" exist in neither one of it. You are only "you" right now in the present, in the future another consciousness will take over your place, and you'll no longer exist. Now of course I grant, that however worrisome or threatening a theory might be we cannot exclude it's possibility on that basis. If we honestly seek the truth, we should not be intimidated by how scary or treathening to society an idea can be. However, what we should consider, is that if consciousness persist over time, that means that concepts like regret, anticipation, hope, and any other though or feeling that indicates relationships between different consciousnesses out of different temporal body parts are also an illusion, or should I say delusion? Again I find it implausible that even that part of our minds is wrong about reality.

7. Defeat of Ockhams razor.
Ok, so having explained some of the problems I have with accepting the persistence of consciousness over time, let us consider if we can use Ockhams razor or not. The proponents of persistence trough time of consciousness could argue that consciousness as a side effect of brain processes is mush simpler then having to explain consciousness as a separate entity, which abides by a different set of natural laws. However proponents of endurance trough time of the consciousness could argue that although their opponents are right about a side affect being a simpler explanation than a separate entity, that the side effect-theory calls for several other complex explanations as explained in the 6 previous arguments, whereas in the separate entity explanation, all these other things are quite simple to explain. So looking at the bigger picture, a consciousness as a separate entity is actually a far simpler explanation. I find this another fitting example of how Ockhams razor is often flawed by bias. There are no criteria for weighing of the complexity of one theory against the complexities of another. So using Ockhams razor here does not follow the rules of logic. In stead, all we have left to do is express our inclination, what we find most plausible, simply because it adds up in our paradigm.

News

01/12/09
Big bang page: Added paragraph regarding Baum-Frampton model.
My beliefs page: Added parts about miracles of the Qur'an.
01/10/09
Fourdimensionalism page: Expanded the mathematical explenation of physics of light, with added formulas.
30/09/09
Fourdimensionalism page: Cleaned up some images, the one with the satellite orbeting earth.
Sidebar: Added new flag-images. The flags are now also clickable as link.
My beliefs page: Corrected a few more spelling and grammar errors.

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