Time-table — postcognitive metaphysics.

Similarities between time and space

  • Linearity — we can add and multiply ‘distances’ in both. Gen relativity explains which measures obey this property. But we also have fundamental cognitive mechanisms that perform these ops.
  • Homogeneity — different moments in time appear similar, and different locations appear similar
  • There is a here and a now, which ‘seem to change’
  • There is a local immediate environment, when one is situated at any point — recent/distant past and future, near and far locations.
  • We can measure space at an instant, and measure time at a location. There is cognitive symmetry.
  • There is incommensurability both ways: two distances measured at the same time cannot be compared, two intervals at the same point cannot be compared.
  • By attending we can change the scale of apprehending. This is phenomenally similar in both domains: a feeling of ‘focusing’ the mind’s eye — music produces excellent examples
  • The verb ‘to be’ (and the structure of verb-noun pairing), and the concept of a ‘rule’, straddle both time and space, in a structurally 4-dimensional manner. ?
  • Linguistic: Heretofore, hitherto, to this point, from hereon (spacetime points form a synecdoche for a timeslice), Long/short, (be)fore/aft(er) (cultural orientation).

Differences between time and space — Why is time not space?

1 dimension 3 dimensions
Negative metric Positive metric for all 3 dimensions
Western Idioms :
  • Passing by
  • Goes quickly/slowly
  • ‘I’m here now’ usually means, conditional upon it being now, the ‘I’ is located here. Definitely not vice versa.
Idioms ?
Things change. For example take an object occupying a spacetime region, the space-shape changes (cutting perpendicular to t) We never have the duration of an object’s presence/existence varying over different locations in space (line segments parallel to t). This might just be perceptual.
Harder to apprehend a drumbeat as a single entity Easy to apprehend a ruler as a single entity
Now seems to ‘move’ inexorably Here does not always move.
Discreteness in time confers a ‘then’-ness. Discreteness in space confers object identity
We are completely unable to mentally select a moment. Worse for the future than the past. Attention allows choice (or choice allows attention?) of a location in space for the mind (it settles on the spot)
Appears directionally asymmetric — entropy, statistics, and quantum states all due to ‘partial knowledge’ / macroscopicalisation i.e. directional knowledge at an instant Appears isotropic. Directions have opposites and negatives, but few ways of telling them apart — we have no basic mental process that do this. Up., down, left, right, fore and aft are all interchangeable — at different moments in time, these can be swapped without cognitive side-effects
The now ‘could be’ many points in time — in the sense that we are unsatisfied by explaining ‘now’ by the particular state of the brain. We seem to be satisfied by the explanation that ‘here’ is due to the presence of the brain
Repeteitiveness is unappealing Spatial patterns are appealing
Individuation of ideas, concepts, memories can be conceived as being in mental ‘places’
Spacetime distances correspond to observer time, not ‘observer length’
Subjective existence is discontinuous in time — e.g punctuated by sleep Subjective existence is continuous in space — perhaps even point-like in space
Aside: cognitive descriptions are so useful — similarity and dissimilarity of internal processes. Does this mode of describing fall apart itself, under these circumstances? It is indeed circular, as we are using the mind to analyse the mind. However it is a notch better than intuition: the loop incorporates an empirical stage. By empirical, I mean we use the mind to observe, analyse, theorise, and re-observe. I would argue that this type of empiricism can be satisfactorily applied to mental phenomena.