Desktop version

Home arrow Philosophy

  • Increase font
  • Decrease font

<<   CONTENTS   >>

The Ncc Has No Relation in Time to the Experience

There is no temporal relationship between N CC and the experience. Consciousness happens in one time series; NCCs happen in another time series. They

  • • Are not part of the same temporal series.
  • • Are not simultaneous.
  • • Are neither earlier nor later than the other.
  • • Might be past, present, or future. However, neither is past, present, or future to the other, they are not part of the same series of past, presents, or futures.

Call the time series in which the experience happens conscious time and the series in which NCCs happen physical time (taken from Power 2010).

We might hold this view of their relationship because we want to hold phenomenological time to be separate to physical time, and we hold conscious time to be such phenomenological time. Why want this? One reason is we are cautious because of the Hard Problem. We do not yet know how to understand consciousness’s relationship to the physical world. As such, we defer identifying a common time between the physical and consciousness. And so we do not identify conscious time with physical time. However convincing such a position might be, there are objections to it.

Objection 1: Causation is Not Possible Across Different Time Series

Assume that a cause comes before its effects. Any event that is before another event is in the same time series. If conscious events are not in the same time series as physical events, then conscious events do not cause physical events and physical events do not cause conscious events.

If I throw a ball, causing a window to break, then the ball-throw is before the window-break; the ball-throw and window-break are in the same time series. Similarly, if a pain I feel causes me to flinch, then the pain is before my flinch. My flinch and the pain are in the time series. If they are not in the time-series, then the pain does not come before the flinch, and the pain does not cause it.

One might object that consciousness does not cause anything physical to happen. One may even argue from causal closure that it must not cause anything physical to happen. However, if consciousness and the physical are not in the same time series, then not only does consciousness not cause physical things to happen, but no physical thing can cause consciousness either.

Physical things cause things to happen in time. If a physical thing and something else do not share time, then the physical thing cannot affect it or cause it. For example, physical injury causes pain; the injury is physical; for it to cause pain, it must come before the pain; thus, injury and pain are in the same time series. This is true even if injury causes pain indirectly through causing an NCC, which then causes the pain. If pain and injury are not in the same time series, then injury does not cause pain.

Objection 2: We Cannot Know From Empirical Research When Consciousness Happens

If we determine when events happen by observing physical things, then we cannot determine when consciousness happens. For example, if we judge the timing of events by looking at a clock, then we judge it by looking at something physical. Conscious events are not in the time series containing that clock; we cannot use clocks to determine when the conscious events happen.

In response, we might use conscious events to determine when things happen. We may appeal to some kind of phenomenal clock to judge the time. For example, we might count changes or repetitions in sensation, such as throbs of pain or changes from pain to relief.

However, this raises an almost identical problem, except that the physical and conscious change places. If we use conscious events to time things, we cannot say when physical things happen. There could be any duration between the conscious event and whatever physical events 1 pick out connected to it, be it NCCs or other physical events related to them.

For example, say I become conscious when I wake up and stop being conscious when I fall asleep. If I judge when things happen by NCCs, I can say when dawn happens or dusk happens. But if I judge when things happen based on when I am conscious or unconscious, then, because it is a different time series, I cannot say that I wake up (a conscious event) at dawn (a physical event) or fall asleep at dusk.

<<   CONTENTS   >>

Related topics