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Date:         Fri, 13 Nov 1998 14:22:15 -0700
Reply-To:     Quantum Approaches to Consciousness
Sender:       Quantum Approaches to Consciousness
From:         Stuart Hameroff <hameroff@U.ARIZONA.EDU>
Subject:      [q-mind] The rate of flow of subjective time - Adhanom Andemicael
Content-Type: text/plain; charset="us-ascii"

The Rate of Flow of Subjective Time

From: Adhanom Andemicael

I have chosen, in this article, to restate an argument presented several weeks back in my September 8 post. It seems to me from my correspondences outside this forum that many readers of this list may have missed my initial post.

This argument is the basis of much of my discourse on quantum theory and subjective time and is therefore presented first, below. Following this, a counter argument is put forward to the claim that subjective time flows at different rates depending on metabolic processes, states of mind, etc.


[Andemicael, September 8]

Existence as Process: The Dynamic Present

Physicists and philosophers have not developed an internally consistent explanation which clarifies the relationship between time and consciousness, and which does so naturally within the framework of quantum theory and relativity theory. This is largely because they have clung to erroneous intuitive ideas about our most fundamental notions: "existence" and "persistence." For a full development of the following ideas within the framework of modern physics (especially the implications for time and consciousness), readers may refer to my paper "Time in a Quantum and Relativistic Universe." ...This paper can be accessed in its entirety at:

...We generally do not recognize that the terms "existence" and "persistence" are equivalent in meaning. We must come to realize that these two words refer to the same concept. "Existence" is in fact the process of persisting. The evidence lies in the fact that the two terms can be used with complete interchangeability. Clearly, if the two are totally interchangeable, we are not justified in regarding "existence" as a notion distinct from "persistence."

In my paper "Time in a Quantum and Relativistic Universe," I have explained that a thing (say a material entity) must endure for a length of time greater than zero seconds in order to exist. In the big bang description of the origin of time, time exists at all moments after the big bang but not at the big bang itself. (I will refer to this moment of the big bang as T-0). Consequently, there is no first moment of time in this description; and every moment of time is preceded by an infinite number of other moments which are still closer to T-0.

Similarly, a material entity cannot have a first moment of existence since it has a total lifetime of only zero seconds at that initial moment. (A total lifetime of zero seconds means no lifetime at all, and implies non-existence.) However, the entity can be said to exist at all subsequent moments after the initial one (I will refer to this initial moment as t-0). At these subsequent moments the entity has a lifetime greater than zero seconds. As in the big bang description, every moment of existence is preceded by an infinite number of other moments of existence; and these moments get closer and closer to t-0.

As indicated above, however, t-0 cannot be considered a moment of existence (the entity does not exist at the time t-0). Let us choose any moment after t-0 and call that moment "now." The entity persists over an infinite number of moments between t-0 and "now." It exists "now" as a result of this persistence--as a result of having endured until "now." Existence "now" is therefore preceded by an earlier process of persistence.

I wish to stress that our treatment of "existence" as a notion distinct from "persistence" has its sole justification--its sole basis--in an assumption which is, in fact, erroneous. The assumption is that existence is in some sense more fundamental than persistence. In this view a thing which currently persists must have existed earlier; but a thing which currently exists need not have persisted earlier. An entity may exist "now" without having persisted prior to "now."

In effect, in this view, the initial moment t-0 is treated as a moment of existence: existence is assumed possible at t-0 as well as at all subsequent moments. As explained above, however, existence cannot be defined at the initial moment, t-0. The reader can appreciate, therefore, that the traditional view of existence versus persistence has no true foundation. It is based entirely on a false assumption.

The traditional view maintains that existence is more fundamental than persistence. We now know, however, that every "now" (after t-0) is preceded by a process of persistence. One could just as easily argue, therefore, that it is persistence which is more fundamental than existence.

To conclude, in the discussion above, I have brought up some rather curious facts. Most significantly, I have shown that existence is not possible without persistence. (An entity cannot exist if it does not endure.) The reader can appreciate, therefore, that persistence is essential for existence--and that it is just as fundamental as existence. I have indicated, in addition, that existence "now" implies both prior existence and prior persistence. There is only one explanation that accounts for these results in a self-consistent manner. Existence must in fact be a process--the process of persisting.]


[Andemicael, new] Does time pass at varying rates?

The "passage of time" is simply the persistence/existence of the present (i.e., of consciousness). And there is only *one manner* of enduring.

It is, quite simply, a *misuse of speech* to speak of the "rate" of time's flow. "Speed" is, by definition, a relation between *spatial* distances and duration. (Duration is the reference or backdrop, against which changes in space are gauged.) Speed is not a relation between the passage of time and its own passage.

However, it might be argued that a second time flow exists--and that we can measure the rate of flow of ordinary time with respect to this second time? I, myself, see no sensible or logical way to accommodate such a second time flow. Only ordinary time exists. And we have to measure its flux in terms of its *own* passage! By definition, one, and only one second elapses in a time interval of one second: .5 seconds, two seconds, three seconds, etc., can never elapse in one-second. It simply is not possible to define varying rates of flux.

Adhanom Andemicael

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