Post by D B Davis Post by Quadibloc Post by D B Davis
Mental time travel (Chronesthesia) in relation to episodic memory
is the ability to travel mentally to the past. ...
The English language isn't as precise as mathematical notation.
If you remember the past vividly - and not just in the sense of recall, but
actually experience what you are remembering, like the events in a dream - of
course one way to speak of that is "mentally travelling to the past".
But that is still a process that is happening *inside your brain* and it's not
happening in the past, it's happening in the present time. It doesn't actually
involve relocating your body, your brain, or your mind or soul _to_ the past.
Nobody ever was able to kill Hitler with a vivid memory of the past.
The last of these three _Man and Time_ (Priestly) excerpts (St
Augustine's thoughts are enclosed in double quote marks) illustrate
how the notion of time itself happens *inside your brain*.
We abstract a concept from our experience of succession, call
it Time, then turn it into an immeasurably vast container, in
which everything goes; and then we wonder why we cannot make
head or tail of it.
"What then is time? If no one asks me, I know; if I want to
explain it to a questioner, I do not know." - St Augustine
"All the while, man's attentive mind, which is present, is
is relegating the future to the past. That past increases
in proportion as the future diminishes, until the future is
entirely absorbed and the whole becomes past." But of course
the future does not yet exist and the past no longer exists.
The mind, however, has three functions; "expectation - for
the future, attention - for the present, memory - for the
We speak of a thing called "time". But it is true that when pressed for a
definition of time, many people will have difficulty. Some people have said that
"time" should be a verb, not a noun. I think that the grammatical category of a
noun is the right one; it's broad enough to include abstractions.
I think that there _is_ a real and objective phenomenon of the external world
that corresponds to what we call time.
We put a candle, an ice cube, and a clock beside one another in the same room.
When the ice cube is half melted, the hands on the clock have moved a certain
distance, and the candle has become a certain distance shorter.
Then we repeat this, but we put each of the three objects in different rooms. In
one of the rooms, perhaps there is a person reading an interesting book, in
another there is a person sleeping, and the third room has no one in it.
It does not happen, though, that this time we find that while the ice cube has
half melted, more time has passed by the clock, but the candle has scarcely
shortened at all. Instead, change and the succession of events not only had the
same direction in those places, it passed by at the same rate.
It's because time is real and objective that things which happen in different
places are tied together like that.
Unlike some, I don't think the subjective is of no value.
Thus, for example, while I think that a person could be "uploaded" if his new
computer brain were kept attached to his original one for a while, so he could
gradually start to use it like an additional brain hemisphere, then his
consciousness could migrate to it. But if you just scan his brain, and then in
another room make a copy - that copy might be his identical duplicate, but it
could be activated while he still lived, and he would not know what it
experienced, so if it was activated after his death, there would be no reason to
believe that his own consciousness would continue within it.
But I do believe that the subjective is one thing, the objective is another
thing, each one has its role, and it's quite important not to confuse the two.
Doing so has led to all manner of superstitious belief in the past.