Time, consciousness, and quantum events in fundamental space-time geometry
David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Ezio Di Nucci
Jonathan Jenkins Ichikawa
Jack Alan Reynolds
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1. Introduction: The problems of time and consciousness What is time? St. Augustine remarked that when no one asked him, he knew what time was; however when someone asked him, he did not. Is time a process which flows? Is time a dimension in which processes occur? Does time actually exist? The notion that time is a process which "flows" directionally may be illusory (the "myth of passage") for if time did flow it would do so in some medium or vessel (e.g. minutes per what?) . But if time is a dimension in which processes occurred, e.g. as one component of a 4 dimensional spacetime, then why would processes occur unidirectionally in time? Yet we perceive time as an orderly, unidirectional process. An alternative explanation is that time does not exist as either a process or dimension, but that reality is a collage of discrete, disconnected and haphazardly arranged configurations of the universe, e.g. as described in Julian Barbour's "The end of time" . In this view our perception of a unidirectional flow of time occurs because each moment, or "Now" as Barbour terms them, involves memory of other conceptually relevant moments, and the orderly flow of time is an illusion. Barbour's deconstruction of time contrasts the Newtonian reality of objects moving deterministically through 4 dimensional spacetime. Newton's contemporary (and rival) Leibniz  viewed the world in a manner consistent with Barbour (and with Mach's principle that the spatiotemporal structure of the universe is dependent on the distribution of mass, a foundation of Einstein's general relativity). According to Leibniz the world is to be understood not as matter/mass moving in a framework of space and time, but of more fundamental snapshot-like entities that momentarily fuse space and matter into single possible arrangements or configurations of the entire universe. Such configurations, which can be fabulously rich and complex considering the vastness of the universe, are the ultimate "things" of reality, which Leibniz termed "monads"..
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