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The Ncc is Simultaneous With the Experience

There is no duration between NCCs and conscious events. Consciousness is at the same time as NCCs. It is simultaneous with them. The duration between NCC and conscious events is zero. There is no duration between them. When the NCC happens is when the related conscious event happens. The NCC moment is the conscious event’s moment.

If causes are before their effects, then one cannot cause the other. Causes and their effects are not simultaneous (unless they are self-causing). What can be simultaneous are entities standing in relations of supervenience. Supervenience is a form of correlation. A subvening physical entity correlates with a supervening mental entity if the following holds: for any change in the mental entity, then there is a change in the physical entity; “it is not an explanatory theory, it merely states a pattern of property covariation between the mental and the physical” (Kim 2000, 14).

One of Kim’s definitions of such supervenience uses simultaneity:

Supervenience: Mental properties supervene on physical properties, in that necessarily, for any mental property M, if anything has M at time t, there exists a physical base (or subvenient) property P such that it has P at t, and necessarily anything that has P at a time has M at that time.

(Kim 2000, 10)

Finally, simultaneous conscious events and NCCs can be identical. By definition, if A is identical with B, then A has the same timing as B, i.e., A is simultaneous with B.3 This possibility suits mind-brain identity theory.

These are the possible temporal relations between consciousness, or conscious events, and their NCCs. Which of them should we accept?

Given these objections, possibility C, that NCCs is simultaneous with conscious events, is the best. There are epistemological reasons to resist possibility A: we have no idea when consciousness happens from observing the physical world, or vice versa. Possibility В allows causation; however, we do not know the exact time between the physical cause and the conscious effects (or vice versa); as such, there remains an epistemological worry here.

The remaining option is that NCCs and conscious events are simultaneous. We may resist accepting simultaneity because, although it allows for mind-brain identity, it denies physical causation. But we can at least know when it happens.

Still, given we do not know how consciousness is related to the physical world (especially with the Hard Problem in the background), none of these possibilities is forced on us. The preference for simultaneity is methodological, not metaphysical. It involves making a rule rather than discovering a law. It is a matter of preference which rule we use to understand time in cognition. Other factors play a part here.

With that in mind, let us apply thinking about timing to the following issues around time and cognitive science:

  • • The timing of free will
  • • Temporal illusions
 
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