the problem of time (and maybe space too)

Hmm, so I spent some time last time with defining reality in terms of a local reality (our personal sensory input) and the related concept of a global reality (some sort of composite reality independent of me as an observer). The local reality that I experience I will state is real and for now unquestioned. It is simply the sensory input that the processing and storage parts of my brain receive. As explained in the last entry, the global reality is a hypothesized reality that I am concluding (see the last entry) is greater than the sum of all of the individual local realities. While such a definition of a global reality excludes a number of other possible realities that my personal reality is a part of, I am choosing it as a most likely way to view global reality.

But I want to augur in a bit, that is, now I want to take this global reality as I see it, and delve into what is it! I could do the same thing with my local reality, and it would be more valid–but that would hide this intermediate step I am taking. I am assuming that I as a thinking observer am relatively unimportant in the global existence, and I want to think (for now) as if the local reality is just a single view of something much bigger–and to try to make conclusions about that much bigger reality (the global reality) even though its existence is really hypothetical.

So–if you’re willing to take that step with me, let me take my magic marker I am writing with, and try to draw an abstraction of this global reality. To do this, I will draw on a little bit of science–I’ll pull in some general principles that have been verified scientifically and use that to augment my own observations. Obviously there is a big danger doing that, and the collection of assumptions that come along with doing that starts to get large. Nevertheless, for now, let me try that and see if it shows signs of validity–all the while being wary of this new collection of assumptions. This is going to take a few entries, I think.

I see two pieces of global reality. I see stuff in space, apparently in unique places. This stuff, and my observations and thinking processes also seem deeply connected to the second part of global reality, the concept of things/concepts/memories changing–time. Space stuff, and time. Note not space! But space stuff. This is important–I’m always trying to be alert to assumptions I am making–and I would be making one if I said I am aware of space! I am not. I have no sensory input that says there is space, I only have sensory input of light (sight, touch (warmth of infrared electromagnetic waves)) or electrostatic or chemical interactions (touching a surface, taste, smell, hearing all result from electrostatic repulsion of surface atoms in our fingers, eardrums, smell may have some chemical bond triggers to nerves). From the ways the objects appear in our eyes and touch, our brain infers spatial separation. But it should be pretty obvious that I have no sensory input of spatial separation itself, only the apparent separation of objects. It’s going to be a very important question to determine if this apparent separation is a mental abstraction that allows our brain to make sense of this world. In fact, I see good reason to believe that space itself is an abstraction, and is not a correct description of global reality. It’s definitely NOT part of my local reality for the reason I just described–I can’t sense it. But my sensory input definitely does feed back information in a consistently ordered way that implies this spatial separation exists in the global reality. So, the crucial question becomes–which is it? Is spatial separation of objects “real” (using that principle of trusting what my senses tell me) or is it an abstraction made by mind to allow me to abstract the uniqueness of different objects.

Similarly with time. In a given instant, my sensory input is static–there is no way to directly sense that time occurs, that change occurs. Somehow, my mind is clearly taking my sensory input and is retaining a sensation that objects not only are in unique places, but the relative placement of objects has differed (moved). Once again, what is really going on in the global reality, and what is going on in the abstraction generation section of my brain? These are very deep questions, and I am about to go even deeper, to the point of utter confusion–at least temporarily until my thinking tries to sort this out. Here it is–when I am saying, my brain may be creating the abstraction of unique spatial position and the sensation of different spatial positions over time, I must understand that my brain is clearly part of the set of objects that appear to reside in unique physical spaces. I must understand that the concept of generating an abstraction is clearly the result of various timed and spatially distinct regions/pathways/computation units interacting to produce a summation result. It’s easy to see the importance of digging into this question, because it gets to the heart of the difficulty of defining space and time–if my own brain is responsible for forming the sensation of spatial separation and time changes, it is doing it because it apparently has components that are spatially separated and are changing! This is, I think, a very good argument (along with the principle of trusting that our sensory input can be trusted to tell us the way things really are (most of the time, ie most likely)) for saying that the apparent property of spatial separation and time changing are “real” to the global reality and are not the results of brain abstracting something else to appear to be spatial separation and time changing.

That is so crucial, because it really helps us to understand what is going on–and has the side effect of giving some insight into what our consciousness is. But I’m not going there now. I want to stick to global reality. So if our brains aren’t somehow synthesizing spatial separation and time changing, what the heck are they? Oh boy, this is going to be fun–I hold the magic marker, and with it I’m going to try to create an abstraction for them! And it has to be weird–and you’ll just have to wait for the next entry to see where I go..


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