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Date:         Tue, 15 Sep 1998 21:56:44 -0700
Reply-To:     Quantum Approaches to Consciousness
Sender:       Quantum Approaches to Consciousness
From:         Stuart Hameroff <hameroff@U.ARIZONA.EDU>
Subject:      [q-mind] Quantum theory and subjective time - Adhanom Andemicael
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From Adhanom I. Andemicael

Quantum Theory and Subjective Time

We have made a number of erroneous intuitive assumptions about the nature of the present moment. For this reason, a coherent description of subjective time has not been possible. In order to fully understand the function of the conscious observer in quantum theory, a satisfactory grasp of subjective time is required. In this article, therefore, I will throw out our flawed conception of subjective time and put forward a coherent account. Much of what follows is non-intuitive and thus requires detailed explanation. Unfortunately, a short article such as this can only outline ideas. Readers seeking a thorough exposition with detailed arguments may refer to my paper "Time in a Quantum and Relativistic Universe." This paper can be accessed in its entirety at:

The first step to understanding time is recognizing the distinction between subjective time and spacetime. Subjective time is temporal whereas spacetime is spatial. (Note: the "time" dimension in spacetime is inappropriately named. It is not a temporal phenomenon at all, but a purely spatial entity.) A spatial entity is, as we know, made up of points which exist concurrently. In contrast, temporal distance, i.e., duration, is not comprised of concurrent points. Clearly, "duration" is an entirely different notion from "space." Duration is a *relation* between points--not an "entity" like space. Duration arises when the present persists--when the present endures; and it allows us to speak of earlier and later "nows." Spatial distances, in contrast, do not emerge from a persisting present and do not accommodate the notion of a "before" and "after."

Let me describe briefly the nature of this persisting present. As we know persistence is a type of motion or *displacement*. Thus, by definition, the persisting present cannot remain at the same "now." This point will become clearer to the reader as I explain the difference between "the present" and "the now." There is only one present moment, and it persists. However, as it persists, it comes to exist at different "nows." The reader can appreciate, therefore, that these "nows" constitute various "locations" of the present. They should not be confused with the present moment itself.

These "nows" are of course essential to the description of a persisting present: any discussion of the motion of the present must make reference to these "locations" at which the present arrives during the course of its lifetime. Let me caution the reader, however, not to think of these "nows" as comprising a spatial entity: they are not concurrent with each other.

This brings me to the crucial issue in this article. As we know, the theory of relativity describes four-dimensional spacetime as a spatial entity. Yet, as I have explained above, the present moment does not move through concurrent points. We are forced, therefore, to conclude that the persistence of the present--the passage of time--is a phenomenon external to spacetime.

I have clarified the relationship between subjective time and spacetime, but I have not yet explained what the present moment actually is. I submit that the "present moment of time" is simply the consciousness of the observer. Since conscious experience constitutes the present, we conclude that mind exists outside of spacetime.

However, although external, mind plays a most significant role in the universe. This becomes clear when we consider the quantum nature of spacetime. To be consistent in our interpretation of quantum mechanics, we must acknowledge that spacetime suffers from quantum effects, just as matter and energy do. This means, of course, that spacetime has to be observed in order to be real. Significantly, since consciousness is the only phenomenon external to spacetime, only it can assume the role of quantum observer. The existence of the universe depends, therefore, in the most fundamental way on the presence of consciousness.

Adhanom I. Andemicael

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