Love: Time and Consciousness

According to Descartes, the behaviour of non-human animals are automaton and driven by physical responses. Humans have the cognitive capacity to experience the external world consciously, but there is a moment where – from a child who develops his automatic behavioural responses through social and environmental interaction in a determined landscape – transcends to form an ability to become self-aware, a mind now enabled with consciousness.

How does that cognitive shift occur from being automaton to conscious? Is there somehow a ‘switch’ that we have embedded in our brain that – under the right conditions – flicks on?

A P-Zombie is a zombie that appears to be conscious and would think that it is conscious when it is not, and to really explain what that would look like, think of a psychopath. They know how to be charming, they act like ordinary people, but they are responding without any sense of empathy or emotion – qua love – and so while they are ‘alive’ they are not essentially conscious, especially of their behaviour, thoughts and ideas. People are more or less along the narcissistic spectrum that lacks empathy and consciousness.

According to recent research done on psychopaths, it is not a complete absence of empathy but rather empathy itself is a switch; by watching videos of individuals being hurt at the same time as receiving pain on the hand, mirror neurons in their brains were activated indicating that they experienced a moment of empathy. Read Here

 


 

LOVE – To me, is empathy or moral consciousness, the ability to actually feel emotional responses and where those perceptions, experiences and thoughts become recognisable. At atomic level, it is like the kinetic energy that initiates self-awareness and without it, one remains trapped in a narcissistic and deterministic state of mind. A P-Zombie.

 


 

 


 

TIME – Our perceptions, experiences, and thoughts are stitched into the fabric of temporality forming the essential structure of consciousness, of memory and imagination that preserves our understanding of the external world.

 


 

It has always been an intriguing thought for me to contemplate what the state of our physical universe would look like without an arrow of time and whether time dilation and the effect of motion could be taken to another level. Let us assume for a moment that we can communicate with ourselves across two dimensions of time, for instance, and  transgress quantum states.

Imagine that the Song of Solomon was a poem I wrote in a parallel universe. We think that it is something that occurred in the past, but what if it is written in the future, that it is a love story that has yet to happen in my future right now but in this parallel universe has already occurred and I am singing praises of an event that has been revealed to me and transmitted back in time.

The many-worlds theory involves an infinite variety of localised quantum states that equally correspond to the quantum probabilities of those states; the wave-function itself never collapses but rather becomes alternate realities. Schrödinger’s cat explains the dual probability of the cat being alive and dead existing in parallel and that both are possible prior to opening the box; the cat is neither alive nor dead and so the cat is both alive and dead right up until we open the box, at which point one or the other realities collapse.

In a universe where infinite variables exist cohesively, it would imply that everything that has happened will happen and again ∞ that therefore nothing is really happening. Is everything futile, as suggested in Ecclesiastes 1-4?

everything-is-futile

 

The transcendental-cognitive view of time is that it is merely a construct that my mind created – where our mind contains the necessary conditions to experience the properties of space and time – but that experience conforms to our subjective deductions of reality. We must cognitively have innate categories prior to our temporal experience of space and our mind and senses merely verify whether such categories apply to the objects we experience. For Kant, ‘categories’ or pure concepts of understanding are unified with our sensory experience; that some apriori concepts (knowledge independent of particular experience) apply to some experiences, but not verified by any empirical means.

I came to realise that such a view on time-consciousness was somewhat unsatisfactory, or at the very least obscure. According to John Ellis McTaggart, there exists a series of temporal positions that appear to us prima facie, namely ‘Earlier’ or ‘Later’ where each position is either ‘Past’, ‘Present’ or ‘Future’ although “an event, which is now present, was future and will be past.”

 

 

It is because time requires these distinctions that according to McTaggart proves time itself is unreal. In addition, there exists two distinct modes labelled as A-series – where there are a series of positions from past [near and far] to present to future [near and far] – and B-series, which are a series of positions that run from earlier to later. The properties [A-properties] being past, being present and being future, with the relations [B-relations] as being earlier than, being later than, and being simultaneous with.

Change is essential to the A-series but an inherent contradiction exists with the properties and relations of change events from future, to present, to past where time appears to be severed from a spatial order of events and instead comprised of timeless properties. Basically, the future, the present and the past are incompatible and yet time itself possesses all three. This infinite regress of temporal attributions or tensed predications is the paradox.

Nevertheless, temporality is a requisite for experience, to perceive, to concern or reminisce. Husserl purports that consciousness can intentionally transcend itself, that from infancy we perceive but it is not yet assigned a referent and by referent I mean that the perception of an object is synthesised into a coherent pattern that we ‘see’ and interpret, making perception an interpretation, that the structure of consciousness captures and characterises the modes of temporal objects.

From a biological perspective, the brain as a neurological mechanism or tool constructs an interpretation in order to articulate the nature of the physical world, thus reality could remain within the boundary of mere psychology and language.

Einstein was a determinist and that future events is determined by preceding events, famously stating, “God doesn’t play dice.” This causal completeness purports that therefore a killer will kill at [x] point in time and since it is determined, therein exists no morality or culpability. Newtonian physics fall under the same deterministic umbrella, Halley’s comet an example of causal relationship between the past and nature.

According to Michio Kaku, the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle challenges nomological determinism since behaviour cannot be absolutely predictable and as such, there exists some free-will. When we observe consciousness at biological level, to be sure determinism plays a major role in mind and ultimately experience, and so it should. However, if we take a compatabilist approach, why exactly do we need to separate the two? Can free-will not be an extension of determinism, can it be evolutionary?

When I say evolutionary, I mean that we already contain the ‘switch’ but within time, as we grow from childhood and our cognitive capacity develops, we can evolve toward consciousness, toward switching on empathy and becoming morally aware.

I believe that love is the essence that enables consciousness.

 

 

 

[1] A. C. EWING, KANT’S TRANSCENDENTAL DEDUCTION OF THE CATEGORIES, NEW SERIES, VOL. 32, NO. 125 (JAN., 1923), PP. 50-66
[2] J. ELLIS MCTAGGART, THE UNREALITY OF TIME, MIND 17 (68):457-474 (1908)
[3] L. NATHAN OAKLANDER, QUENTIN SMITH, THE NEW THEORY OF TIME, YALE UNIVERSITY PRESS (1994) 195
[4] W. HOPP, HUSSERL ON SENSATION, PERCEPTION, AND INTERPRETATION, CANADIAN JOURNAL OF PHILOSOPHY 38:2 (JUNE 2008) 219-246
[5] ERWIN SCHRODINGER, WHAT IS LIFE? CAMBRIDGE UNIVERSITY PRESS (1967) 163
[6] GOTTLOB FREGE, THE FOUNDATIONS OF ARITHMETIC, NORTHWESTERN UNIVERSITY PRESS (1980)
[7] DAN FALK, IN SEARCH OF TIME, THOMAS DUNNE BOOKS (2008) 156
[8] W.L. CRAIG, TIME AND THE METAPHYSICS OF RELATIVITY, SPRINGER SCIENCE & BUSINESS MEDIA (2013) 191