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Date:         Fri, 20 Nov 1998 00:31:33 +0100
Reply-To:     Quantum Approaches to Consciousness
Sender:       Quantum Approaches to Consciousness
From:         Jan Pieter Verhey <jverhey@GYRAL.COM>
Subject:      [q-mind] Existence,
              persistence and time (to Ed Severinghaus) -- Adhanom Andemicael
Content-Type: text/plain; charset="iso-8859-1"

From: Adhanom Iassu Andemicael <>

[Severinghaus] Momentary existence is indeed possible without persistence...

[Andemicael] A physical object exists for either *no* length of time, or for an actual *duration* (i.e., for a period greater than zero seconds).

Realize that your theory has no way of distinguishing between an entity which exists and an entity which does not exist. According to you, both exist for *no length of time*.

Your proposal leads logically to a conclusion which is completely absurd: it forces you to conclude that existence is non-existence! I hope you now see that your proposal for "momentary" existence is not sensible.

...Existence requires persistence--this is clear.

(I suggest that, perhaps, what you *really* mean by "momentary" is: "an arbitrarily short duration." If this is true, you confirm what I assert about existence; and we are in agreement!)


[Severinghaus] Action in the moment transforms the unreal but possible future into the unreal and impossible past. This is the passage of time. A single action is an act of existence.

[Andemicael] It is the "action" of the moving present, observing successive points or "slices" of spacetime which gives the impression of an *unfolding* universe.

...This dynamic present must be in some sense external to spacetime: "geometric" time (being spatial rather than temporal in character) cannot, and does not flow.


[Severinghaus] ... we all take it as obvious that things change, we don't live in an entirely static universe.

[Andemicael] The physical world IS static. This is why we distinguish between geometric time and subjective time.

The following is taken from Paul Davies' book *Other Worlds*:

[Davies] "In the words of the physicist Hermann Weyl 'the world does not happen, it simply *is*'. In this picture [i.e., of spacetime] things do not change..."

(Paul Davies, *Other Worlds* [New York: Simon & Schuster, 1980], 189)

[Andemicael] Roger Penrose also expresses this point:

[Penrose] "...I suggest that we may actually be going badly wrong when we apply the usual physical rules for *time* when we consider consciousness! There is, indeed, something very odd about the way that time actually enters into our conscious perceptions in any case, and I think that it is possible that a very different conception may be required when we try to place conscious perceptions into a conventionally time-ordered framework. Consciousness is, after all, the one phenomenon that we know of, according to which time needs to 'flow' at all! The way in which time is treated in modern physics is not essentially different from the way in which *space* is treated* [see below] and the 'time' of physical descriptions does not really 'flow' at all; we just have a static-looking fixed 'space-time' in which the events of our universe are laid out!..."

["*This symmetry between time and space would be even more striking for a *two* dimensional space-time. The equations of two-dimensional space-time physics would be essentially symmetrical with respect to the interchange of space with time--yet nobody would take space to 'flow' in two-dimensional physics. It is hard to believe that what makes time 'actually flow' in our experiences of the physical world we know is merely the asymmetry between the number of space dimensions (3) and time dimensions (1) that our space-time happens to have."]

(Roger Penrose, *The Emperor's New Mind* [Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1989], 443-444)

Best regards,

Adhanom Andemicael

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