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Date:         Sun, 20 Sep 1998 14:56:29 +0000
Sender:       Quantum Approaches to Consciousness
From:         Saul-Paul Sirag <sirag@POND.NET>
Subject:      [q-mind] Reply to Johnson on Subjective Time -- A.I. Andemicael
Content-Type: text/plain; charset=us-ascii

From: Adhanom Iassu Andemicael <>

Subject: Reply to Johnson on Subjective Time (q-mind Digest: 20 Sep 1998)

[Adhanom Andemicael previously] "Clearly, a thing (e.g., a material object) cannot exist if it does not remain in existence."

[Kevin Johnson] Does the fact that he or she will die negate their prior or current existence?

[Adhanom Andemicael] No, not at all. As is explained in the paper, a thing must endure for a length of time greater than zero seconds; but it does not have to keep existing indefinitely. Existence can be defined over a finite length of time. However, (in view of the geometrical properties of lines and points) this existence cannot be defined at the endpoints (i.e., the first and last points of the duration.)

[Kevin Johnson] You choose to Interpret this argument from the perspective of the future looking backward, reversing the arrow of time. How do you remove yourself from the dimension of time to 'relocate' (ignoring spatial connotations) yourself in the time stream in the future?

[Adhanom Andemicael] In my paper and article, "Existence as Process" (Quantum-Mind -- September 8), I explain that existence cannot be defined at the initial "moment." (A total lifetime of zero seconds implies non-existence.) Existence can be defined at subsequent points, however (at all such points, ones total lifetime is greater than zero seconds). I am not "looking backward from the perspective of the future," in the sense that you mean. Existence is defined only at subsequent points, not the initial point. My discussion of existence, then, certainly has to be focused on a subsequent point as opposed to the initial point. Notice, however, that EVERY subsequent point is preceded by other such subsequent points which are still closer to the initial point; existence always implies prior existence. You claim that I "relocate" myself. But if there is no defined first point of existence, then, with respect to what am I "relocating" myself??? I believe your remarks here are inappropriate.

You make reference to the "reversing [of] the arrow of time." The issue of time's arrow is applicable to A-space (i.e., the symmetry/asymmetry present in this space). The persistence of Point-M (i.e., the passage of time) is an altogether different phenomenon from A-space; and the question of time's arrow is not applicable here. The passage of time is simply the existence of the present moment, and necessarily a one-way affair. Persistence (existence) is an activity which has no "opposite" process; thus, a "reversal of the passage of time" is not a meaningful/definable concept.

"South" may be considered the opposite of "North." But what could we consider to be the opposite of persistence? It is true, we can distinguish between persistence and non-persistence (non-existence). But non-persistence/non-existence cannot really be considered the "opposite" of persistence: there is neither directionality nor motion involved in non-persistence.

[Adhanom Andemicael, previously] If the mind is to exist, it must constantly remain in existence. We may, therefore, define existence as a process--the process of remaining in existence, or persistence. The reader can appreciate that existence is dynamic rather than static in its nature: persistence (existence) is a kind of constant motion.

[Kevin Johnson] Yes, exactly my point here. Granting its dynamic nature how do you justify instantaneous 'snapshots' with which to compare the "process of remaining in existence" with a particular past point.

[Adhanom Andemicael] As Point-M moves across the timeline, it arrives at different "locations" ("nows"). Point-M's existence is defined throughout the duration over which it exists (with the exception of the endpoints). I simply restate and confirm this when I remark that "Point-M exists at all points in the interval."

Let us consider a given point on the timeline (call it Point-A) which is situated to the right of the initial point (I). In describing M as "existing when at the location A," I acknowledge that M now has a temporal extension (it of course has no temporal extension at the initial point, I): M now has a history that we can speak of (it has been in existence for an actual length of time greater than zero seconds). A snapshot existence at Point-A would be, by definition, an existence which is completely self-contained at Point-A -- an existence defined at A without reference to an earlier process of persistence. However, as I have explained, M's existence at A is defined precisely *because* M has a history when it is at A -- because M *has been* in existence for an actual length of time (greater than zero) when at A. You can appreciate, then, that the notion of "snapshot existences" plays no part in my description.

[Adhanom Andemicael] I remarked that common sense should not to be regarded a reliable means of discovering truth. I believe that progress in theoretical physics at the turn of the century was possible only because physicists became willing to adopt non-commonsensical and non-intuitive ideas (the principle of relativity, the uncertainty principle, etc.) We human beings have a natural tendency to follow common sense/intuition, which may work well sometimes -- but not always. I think physics has taught us not to rely on common sense too much.

[Adhanom Andemicael] I believe that your remaining questions/objections in your posting from September 19 center around the issue of the present's dimensionality.

Let me define duration as "the length of time over which a thing exists." A material entity -- a brick, for example -- has to exist for a length of time in order to exist. Let us say this brick exists for ten seconds. Certainly, the ten seconds is a length of time. But the brick, itself (obviously) is not a length of time. A thing which endures (in this case the brick) cannot itself be a duration. If we were to assert that "duration can endure," we would be claiming the following: "the length of time over which a thing exists can itself exist for a length of time." This statement, of course, is senseless. Thus, only a thing which is itself dimensionless (temporally speaking) can endure.

The present moment is exactly like our brick. Let us say the present endures for ten seconds. The ten seconds (obviously) is a length of time. The present moment *itself*, however, cannot be a length of time (remember duration cannot endure). I see no conceptual difficulty in defining the present moment as temporally non-dimensional. (The present is a "thing," in this respect, in the same sense that the brick is a "thing." The brick obviously cannot be defined as "a length of time," and is temporally non-dimensional. The present is likewise non-dimensional). HOWEVER -- and this is a crucial point -- in order to exist, this one present moment has to maintain its existence for a length of time ( i.e., for a length greater than zero seconds).


[Adhanom Andemicael] In the paper, I state: "Clearly, a thing (e.g., a material object) cannot exist if it does not remain in existence."

Let me explain this: A thing which exists must have a temporal extension. If it does not endure, it has no lifetime; and no lifetime implies non-existence. (NOTE: I do not claim that the thing itself IS a temporal extension. Please refer to my remarks above concerning the dimensionality of the present if the distinction is not clear to you.)

[Kevin Johnson] To retreat to a position that I have not included all your arguments or writings and have thereby confused or totally misunderstood it is to ignore, say, the above problems in the definitions themselves.

[Adhanom Andemicael] You wrote: "That the mind exists outside of spacetime does not preclude its existence within spacetime as well."

Yes, I agree. However, when you wrote this, you probably were not aware of some important and relevant statements which I had made. In the paper, I explain that existence within space implies volume and location (a thing which exists in space must have volume/location). Since mind does not have these properties, by definition, it cannot exist within space (spacetime).

(Also: Consciousness can persist (exist), even in the absence of A-space. In this sense, then, consciousness exists "outside" A-space. )

You wrote: "you earlier said 'just as matter and energy do' in reference to spacetime suggesting that they are apart/disjunct from spacetime in the universe"

Matter and energy certainly do exist within spacetime. I do not claim otherwise. I think in reading my paper you will discover that I express this point quite clearly.

You wrote: "time is thereby exported, even if only by analysis of spacetime, to consciousness where it is given independent ontological status from spacetime which appears to be a strict contradiction in and of itself"

There is an unfortunate misconception that A-space and time are two aspects of a single phenomenon. Time and A-space are, however, two entirely different things. There is, therefore, no contradiction in my remarks.

I believe I have addressed most of your questions (directly or indirectly). I will respond to any that remain in another article. Please feel free to ask me any new questions.

Best regards,

Adhanom Andemicael

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