# Past, Present, Future, which doesnt exist

Ive been playing around with the idea of time and how it breaks down to past present and future. Then i started to think about a mathematical line. If i place a point on the line and call it present, then i can set everything forward of the point as future and everything before it as past. Because of the situation created at the number -1, 0, 1, i create a symbolic link with these three numbers. everything to the left of the 0 is the past. everything to the right of 0 is the future. But when i do this, the present becomes 0. The present stops existing. The present just becomes an idea of where the past and future meet.

I realize there may be fallacy in the symbolic links, and the use of 0 as the present i can not prove.

Anyone have any thoughts on this?

What got me thinkin about this is the oddity found in infintismal numbers. Russell notes that if you create a group of numbers from 1,2,3… to infinity, that group of numbers will have a size. But if you create a group of numbers 2,4,6,… to infinity, that group will only include half of the numbers of the other group, yet it has the same size. He dismisses this as just an oddity, but i think there is more to it when dealing with infitismal numbers.

I think it is perfectly valid to think of the present as 0.

After all, its never really there. If you look at a point of time in the future, it would be impossible to pinpoint when it was the present before it becomes the past after an infinitessimal amount of time. Or zero time. So if the present time is equivalent to zero time, then surely it cannot exist. Which would mean there is only past and future. But then how can we explain our ‘here and now’ that we are constantly perceiving?

This is using the accepted model of time relating to reality, which has resulted from beings with the current mental perception common in all humans.

I disagree with it, but find it hard to explain why. I think time is an illusion in the way that I’ve explained on the ‘desire and freewill’ thread. I think time could just as easily always be in the present. Whatever the time is. And that different things happen in this ‘present’ but only in this ‘present’.
The past seems to be only created by our memories and the future by our premonitions and assumptions. And so it is all in our minds and just a misconception. Much like with our sight. Things in the distance aren’t really smaller, they just appear that way due to how we work and perceive things.
So with this theory, the ideas of future and past don’t need to exist. They are simply things that happen in the present that we either remember or assume. This matches to a theoretical ‘memoryless’ and ‘assumptionless’ but aware being’s perception of things. This person only knows the present and the ‘past’ and ‘future’ don’t exist in their minds.
Although even with our current abilities of remembering and assuming, I don’t think either are actually reliable sources of knowledge because they don’t exist physically, but only in our minds. The only way you can actually know is by being the in the present, which doesn’t technically exist in the accepted form of time perception, only in my previously suggested one.

But then if you were memoryless and assumptionless and not aware, any sort of time would not exist in your mind.

So maybe none of the ‘present’, ‘past’ and ‘future’ actually exist, and they are just frameworks to help u understand things better in your particular state of mental awareness?

Much like the other ‘dimensions’ like space and probability…

Either that, or they do actually all exist but we’re only able to detect them with certain mental perceptive abilities like awareness.

What does everyone else think of these ideas?

I really like the way time is described in the book “Slaughter House 5”. Where there is no such thing as past or present, that everything that has every happened is happening right now, and always will happen. We, as humans, just need to percieve time in order to comprehend it. Not saying I agree with this (although it could be perfectly true) but it really makes you think about how much what we see and feel is reality and how much is just us contorting reality in order to comprehend it.

I can understand what your saying. In that our perceptions are not always true. The same way we can not comprehend a god that has just always been here. Where did he come from, what was before him, it makes no sense for something to have no beggining. Yet its perfectly possible, and still makes absolutely no sense.
I think this is because we can only perceieve our own reality. Like a 1st, 2nd, and 3rd dimension. What would a 4th be like, what would it occupy, because it does not fit into our own reality it makes no sense. But it would be awfully naive to believe the universe is only what we can percieve.
Time is in the same spirit as this. And i think it is why i have trouble percieving a timeline and past,present,future.
so much left to discover, yet all we concern ourselves with is the past and our possible economic futures. this world needs a violent renaissance.

Isn’t the forth demension defined as time? Or at least, the ordered fashion in which we percieve time.

i could be wrong but i believe hume did something similar…

<-----|-------------|----------|----------|----------|---------->
Past Pasts Past Futures NOW Future Past Futures Future

went tsomething along those lines…

i think it was the problem of induction

Time has no past or future; it’s always a now. What we see as past happenings are things that still happens right now but have changed positions in the room. The dinosaurs are “walking” around now in new shapes, the movement that shaped dinosaurs exist now and have always existed now. If you wind the movement backwards and get the same positions of all the elements involved in a structure (the whole universe to get it perfect) you will get back the same identical “time”. Something that does not change does not age, and then there exist no illusion of time. There is never anything new showing up; just new shapes forming in the same substance right now.

Johan

Assigning numbers may complicate things even more…

Imagine time, without past, present, future or any “space” in-between…
Just a straight line… but not an infinte one…

We have it sort of like this: [notice how I won’t assign any ends to it, as time is suppose to be “eternal” )

```Point A Point B -------------------------------```

The distance “time” travels from point A to B depends on various thigns (Einstein proved tiem is relative) so we’ll take it as a “normal” speed of how the planet evolves around its Oy axes…

So we understood that… that was simple enough…
Now iamgine the theory of how every problem has an infinte number of… you know how I hate to say “solutions” … so we’ll call them “results”…

Somewhere along this line, between A and B I come across a shop where I can get Icecream… There are 2 options: I buy Icecream… I move without buying it.

So we’ll have this:

```Point A Point C Point B ------------- X ----------------- Icecream Shop```

This can look like this:

``` Alternate "route" --------- / \ Point A Point C/ \ Point B ------------- X ---------------- Icecream Shop```

This would show how in this “reality” I could either walk straight ahead and not buy and go directly to Point B, or in an alternate “reality” (often called paralel Universe) buy icecream, therefor changing certain things, such as spending money on icecream disallowed me to do buy something I’d normally buy by going directly to Point B… so by following an alternate “route” I’d go to Point B… say representing my Home… but with no money… yet with an icecream (yummy).

Indeed There is no possible way to travel back in time to Point C… except according to the theory that if Earth evolves backwards, so would time…

This would indeed, prove that an action at Point C (buying\not buying) could not be proved sinceit will still be in our head… but what about the actual proof that would contradict this thory ? The icecream (alternate route) or the money that weren’t spent (direct route) ?

On the other hand… what if you would, one day, wake up with a newspaper in your hand ? It would be next week’s paper with the SPORTS results… You’d surely be tempted to bet knowing the results and win… But the question is… how did you get the paper ? Did you travel in the future ?
Or was it an actual travel to the past ?

Theories exist such as there is no “where”, but rather “when”… If you would go bak in time, without moving, say… 1000 years ago… your house doesn’t exist… for example… (except if it traveled back in time with you )

There are a lot of theories on “time”… but the one with numbers doesn’t convince me as it would, eventually cancel or contradict certain events, while a noted one (with Points\destinations) is easy to prove and explain.

On the other hand… what about Deja-vu ?? You all know it… and I’m sure everybody experienced it at least ONCE in their life. Is it a genuine feeling ? Have we, indeed, lived that certain moment in time before ? If so, does that mean you can travel back in time, just by thought ? Or is it just a fake feeling self-suggested by prediction…

What about “hunches” at SPORTS bettings ? How do we have that “certain” feeling that the horse with the number 5 will win ?

So many questions… so little “time” to explain them all

One problem with the “eternal now” is that it takes a while to get dark out, the rain comes down and the sun comes out, reality changes and not all just in one minute, time can be felt.

Not really… everything happends in an instant.
We only see it passing slow…

For example… every operation from the plain thought as to the certain action (wanting to pick up a book)… all these operations: thinking of a book, the operation of picking it up and so on, happen in an instant… to us. But for the brain it might seem like a regular 42 seconds… Like processing power\speed in a computer.

On the other hand, at a computer we only see one operation… the result: displaying “something” on the monitor. But to achieve that there are million of operations happening.

The example is not too good but I think you know what I mean.

Well, if the way we percieve reality is not the right or only way, and you may have a point here that it is not, then it serves and makes things more bearable, so it doesn’t really matter anyway. Oh, what a horror when you realize all the world is just a convention.

The real horror occurs when you realzie everything you thought is true proved to be wrong and everything you believed in proves to be a lie.

Let’s hope that won’t happen. For our sake anyway

Silhouette wrote:

Hi Silhouette and rhish,
Good stuff from the both of you! The instant of the now certainly appears as an infintesimal sliver dividing the past from the future. Our entire life is lived within the confines of that narrow sliver of time that we know as “the present.” In the words of Vladimir Nabokov,

â€œThe cradle rocks above an abyss, and common sense tells us that our existence is but a brief crack of light between two eternities of darkness.â€

How perfectly delightful(!) to read rhish’s suggestion that we might assign the instant of “the now” to the zero on an ordered number line. I say, delightful, because it points out the existentially Absurd concept that all that we have in this world (this moment) ought to be paired with the number zero. It brings to mind some thoughts I had after reading Thomas Nagel’s, Mortal Questions. Nagel writes at length about the Absurd. He remarks (unless otherwise noted, the following quotes are from Nagel):

â€All of it (life) is an elaborate journey leading nowhere.â€

Itâ€™s commonly said that life is absurd because weâ€™re so small in relation to the universe. Voltaire, in fact, compared us to â€œ…an insect on an atom of mud.â€

â€…we are tiny specks in the infinite vastness of the universe; our lives are mere instants even on a geological time scale, let alone a cosmic one; we will all be dead any minute.â€

Nagel counters this complaint by suggesting that your life would be no less absurd even if your body were expanded to equal the dimensions of the universe. Likewise, if a short-lived absurdity were extended through all eternity it would become little more than an eternal absurdity. Meaning is independent of spatial dimensions or temporal longevity.

Short of suicide, perhaps the most common way to deal with the Absurd is to ignore it. Fill your daily life with so many tasks that you havenâ€™t a moment left to wonder “what itâ€™s all about.” Lose yourself in your work and switch on the radio in the car on the way home. When you fall exhausted onto the sofa in the evenings just as quickly switch on the television. The trick here is to avoid, at all costs, the prospect of ever having to sit quietly alone with your thoughts. But isnâ€™t the hope that one might die without once having to come to terms with oneself only a lesser form of suicide?

â€Given that the transcendental step is natural to us humans, can we avoid absurdity by refusing to take that step and remaining entirely within our sublunar lives? Well, we cannot refuse consciously, for to do that we would have to be aware of the viewpoint we were refusing to adopt. The only way to avoid the relevant self-consciousness would be never to attain it or to forget it - neither of which can be achieved by the will.â€

The traditional attempt to banish absurdity had to do with giving ones life over to something greater than oneself.

â€Those seeking to supply their lives with meaning…seek fulfillment in service to society, the state, the revolution, the progress of history, the advance of science, or religion and the glory of God.â€

But this could only work if the thing greater than yourself to which you dedicate your life, itself has some ultimate meaning.

â€If we can step back from the purposes of individual life and doubt their point, we can step back from the progress of human history, or of science, or the success of a society, or the kingdom, power, and the glory of God, and put all these things into question in the same way.â€

If we can ask why our own life matters, we can just as easily ask why the existence of God matters. Religionists tell us that we are part of Godâ€™s plan; that our aim should be to please God. But what is it about his plan that matters? Of what ultimate import is it that God should feel pleased? Why does it matter that a God exists rather than Nothing? If there were a God, wouldnâ€™t he/she/it also wonder why he/she/it exists? Why would God feel that his/her/its existence is no less absurd than is ours?

â€I would argue that absurdity is one of the most human things about us: a manifestation of our most advanced and interesting characteristics. Like skepticism in epistemology, it is possible only because we possess a certain kind of insight - the capacity to transcend ourselves in thought…There does not appear to be any conceivable world (containing us) about which unsettlable doubts could not arise. Consequently, the absurdity of our situation derives not from a collision between our expectations and the world, but from a collision within ourselves.â€

It appears that no possible world could satisfy manâ€™s innate desire for an ultimate, unquestionable external meaning. Still:

â€It is useless to mutter: â€˜Life is meaningless; life is meaningless…â€™ as an accompaniment to everything we do. In continuing to live and work and strive, we take ourselves seriously in action no matter what we say.â€

This is the essence of the Absurd, that what is so precious to us in this life counts for nothing beyond this life. What is precious is the present moment of our life. In his Meditations, the Roman emperor, Marcus Aurelius, noted that death takes from us only the present, for the past has ceased to be and the future is not yet come. Wittgenstein reminds us in his Tractus:

â€œ…eternal life belongs to those who live in the present.â€

Georg Hegel, remarking how we are apt to be at the same time everywhere and nowhere, said:

â€…man is not what he is and is what he is not…â€

Sartre would say that â€œman does not coincide with himself.â€ Itâ€™s not an easy thing to live in the present, which is to say that it is not an easy thing to live at all. Even as our hearts are a-beating, the instant of our present is easily misplaced. A life spent in running to catch up with the present, or in waiting for the present to catch up with our dreams is never really lived. To again quote Sartre:

â€Reality alone is what counts, dreams, expectations, and hopes warrant no more than to define a man as a disappointed dream, as miscarried hopes, as vain expectations.â€

When I lose my life I lose both everything and nothing. If my life had some ultimate meaning then my death would rate as a catastrophe of cosmic proportions. This is clearly not the case. The story of my life and death is more apt to be, figuratively speaking, a minor joke (and as jokes go, would lose something with each re-telling) rather than a cosmic catastrophe. Perhaps Jean De La Bruyere had a similar thought in mind when he wrote:

â€Life is a tragedy for those who feel, and a comedy for those who think.â€

Camusâ€™ Sisyphus, â€œproletarian of the godsâ€ is only a myth. We have neither been condemned to an eternal something nor an eternal nothing. Of the eternal Nothing, Wittgenstein said:

â€œDeath is not an event in life: we do not live to experience death.â€

We are briefly something, but it will never be the case that we are nothing. In his The Questions of Life, the Spanish philosopher, Fernando Savater wrote:

â€If death is not-being we have already defeated it once, on the day we were born…Lucretius…in his philosophical poem On the Nature of the Universe speaks of mors aeterna, the eternal death of that which has never been and never will be. So we may well be mortal, but we have escaped eternal death. We have succeeded in stealing a chunk of time-the days, months, years during which we have been alive, each moment when we are still living-from that enormous death and, happen what may, the time will always be ours, time belonging to those who triumphed against death through being born-it will never belong to death, even if we must in the end die.â€

We ought to congratulate each other for already having defeated mors aeterna. Until the end of time it will never be the case that you and I never were. We appeared, weâ€™ll live and love for a time, and then weâ€™ll melt away. Iâ€™m reminded that the graves of Roman Legionnaires, from Britain to the Middle-East, were commonly inscribed with the epitaph:

â€Non fui, fui; nonsum, non curo.â€
â€œI was not, I was; I am not, I donâ€™t care.â€

We would have felt no anguish whatsoever had we never appeared, so the fact that we have this small chance to be something rather than nothing should be a cause for a joyful curiosity rather than a heart-wrenching anguish. Thomas Nagel has written elsewhere:

â€The only reason to fear death is if one survives it.â€

We have no reason not to enjoy our life and no reason to fear our death. There is no greater task, no greater purpose and no greater meaning than that which Iâ€™m able to provide for myself. There is no vale of tears, no stain of original sin, and quite unlike the eternal task of Sisyphus; no rock to push up a mountain. As the Taoists would say:

â€œNothing is done, yet nothing is left undone.â€

The ultimate absurdity of my life is a welcome liberation from an otherwise certain despair of oppressive meaning.

I’d like to express my thanks to Rhish and Silhouette for prompting me to dig through my old journal. As I said, I find your notion that all we have in this world ought to be paired with zero on the ordered number line to be an utterly delightful concept!

Michael

Those are some interesting quotes. I think my whole reason for being is trying to add someone to the world that is bigger than life.

Well I don’t like the number-theory to express time.
But if you’d convince me to like it… I’d say “0” is not the present but rather the beginning of time… and because nobody can place that period, 0 could mean the first day or our life.

“0” being the present states something that would contradict certain things in a way. at least so I say

Yes, I don’t like it either, it is like a confounded game of pretense.

I agree. Very well said.

I think time, like most theoretical scientific ideas, is just a misperception. Animals have adapted so that their senses work best to keep them alive in the closed environment with which they have had to adapt to. This doesn’t mean they have adapted to perceive everything exactly as it actually is. We haven’t evolved to see things in such a way as to understand the truth yet if ever, so what we sense and accept as true is often askew.

For example, if you look at a huge landscape, the further everything is away from you, the smaller is seems to be. Apparently they haven’t just shrunk its just the way your eyes sense and your brain interprets it as perceiving depth. It may be largely unrealistic and give us an illusion of space, but it is very useful for survival. The things that are more immediate and closer to us are bigger, more imposing and more detailed giving the most information about it and exaggerating its urgency. And in addition, the things that are further away are all squashed so more information is fitted into the same amount of space letting u see more of whats in the distance and making it smaller to make it seem less imposing and so less urgent. How convenient! For surviving that is… Not for seeing things as they are. Imagine seeing everything as it is with everything being the same size. How weird would that be? We’d have to look completely different for it to be an effective survival ability. Not see with our eyes for a start…

As for time, our goals can often only be achieved in steps. And once u have a chronological order, you get progression which we have misperceived as time. Also you can only act on what u have learnt from previous steps in achieving goals which we store in our memory giving us the misillusion of past. And we can attempt to predict succeeding steps using past experiences which gives us the misillusion of the future. Where really the past and future are just different combinations of atoms in the same present which could just as easily be repeated but its just highly improbable, even if the area which is being analysed as being repeated is very small.

What does everyone else think of this?