Philosophy | And, More Time


And, More Time

©2022 by Vernon Miles Kerr and VernonMilesKerr.com

I wrote yesterday, “Time is a construct of the human mind.” That’s not exactly accurate. Well, maybe it’s accurate as far as our mundane perspective goes, because, in our minds, the present doesn’t seem to exist longer than fractions-of-a-second — because it’s turning into the past so rapidly. A good metaphor for the “cursor” of our “present” is the sonic boom that hurtles across the ground as a supersonic plane flies over. It’s coming, it’s coming, BOOM, it’s gone, it’s gone — it’s now in the past. But the past doesn’t seem to exist either — except for the artifacts it leaves and the memories we manage to retain. For a person with dementia, who can’t remember what happened a fraction of a second ago, there is also no past. That person is stuck with the “artifacts” of the past in order to know that the past once existed. I hear that senile people write notes to their future selves. I myself, approaching 80, have begun leaving my morning medicine bottles on the bathroom counter to tell my “future-self” that I took them today.

Yesterday, I also wrote “there is no future, except in human imagination.”  Since the future will be the natural result of an infinite number of active processes creating an evern more infinite number of separate events, all across this sprawling Universe, one can’t even guess accurately about “the future,” there are too many contributing threads of events that go into its eventual advent.

So, how can time travel be remotely possible? To go back to the past, one would have to reverse a Universe’s worth of events that brought us to where we are now.

Physicists have speculated about a parallel Universe where time might run backward. Instead of the “new” becoming “old” and falling apart, would the old and “fallen-apart” reassemble itself and become new and whole? No. It might look that way to us, from a distance; but, within that parallel Universe the new would still seem to become old and fall apart. Any intelligent beings in that Universe would have no idea that their forward direction of time looked to be backward to us.

So, if there is no longer a past, and In a fraction of a second this present won’t exist, and if there is no future, so what? How does that knowledge help to improve the human condition?

Humans are motivated by value-systems. There are so many humans; and, that results in so many value-systems. To the extent that those values aren’t based upon knowledge of how transitory our present is and how impossible it is to accurately predict the fututre, our approach to reality is flawed and can’t help but produce unsatisfactory results.

On the other hand, knowing that the past no longer exists might be the key to achieving the ability to forgive others for past slights. And, knowing that our attempts to create “events” that will produce a desired future are limited because our horizons are severely limited — accepting that we have myopia when it comes to the events that are presently working on producing an eventual future — we are left with a new humility. Maybe.

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