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    1. #1
      Xei
      UnitedKingdom Xei is offline
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      Special Relativity; you are completely alone?

      This has troubled me for a long time.

      My opinions on the nature of consciousness with regards to time are not solid (unsurprisingly, considering how little is known about the brain at the current time), but I have some clear views. The main idea is that consciousness is the result of a system; just a specific set of causes and effects. In the case of human consciousness this would mean the functioning of our neural networks. These systems are isolated from one another, and have objective reality. They do not reside anywhere in any specific space or time (consequently, they could be from any universe - I agree with the arguments for a multiverse based upon fine-tuning); there is essentially just a 'set' of consciousnesses.

      I've adopted this model because of functionalist arguments (there is nothing inherently conscious about organic compounds) and because of the improbability of the idea that time has progressed impassively from the beginning of the universe to now, and we just happen to inhabit that 10^-9 window during which we are conscious.

      Now, you may take issue with some of the things above, but my main purpose is to provide another argument for this view, and then present the consequence.

      Most of us know of the bizarre temporal consequences of special relativity. These are best embodied in the twin paradox: you have a twin, you travel at high velocity to a faraway star and back, and when you arrive, you are one year older and your twin has lived out the entire course of his life.

      People tend to see this as an isolated paradox, far removed from everyday experience. But the thing is that special relativity is continuous; any binary result must apply to all circumstances. To elaborate: the twin paradox shows us that the consciousness of two individuals is not intrinsically linked. If you talked to your twin during your flight, you would essentially be talking to the 'future' of your twin; you have only been conscious for, say, half a year since you left, and so, logically, your twin must be experiencing his life half a year in the future; but the twin you are talking to now is 30 years older. So you are talking to the future of your twin; you have 'left his consciousness behind'.

      This destoys the notion that the consciousness is synchronised. And, although we do not move at anywhere near the velocities involved in the twin experiment, the time dilation effect still happens. We are all out of sync with one another. Indeed, if there's no reason to think that we are exactly in sync, why should we believe we are remotely in sync at all? Time is relative. Why should, say, your father's consciousness, which is 20 years older than yours, have come into existence at exactly the right moment so that it met up with yours? Indeed, such statements are really completely meaningless.

      So, this is the problem: everybody around you is not conscious now. You are essentially surrounded by zombies. You get a response from them, a shadow of their past or future mind, but who knows where their consciousness actually 'is'; it could be ten years ago, a few hours in the future; they could not even exist yet, or have ceased existing. The whole idea of 'when' somebody's consciousness is relative to yours may even be completely redundant; you are totally alone.

      There is one piece of consolation I have to offer: when we make a phone call to somebody we know, does it matter that we're separated by many miles? Perhaps this applies to time too...

      I'd like to hear thoughts about this.
      Last edited by Xei; 04-07-2009 at 01:30 AM.

    2. #2
      Consciousness in the Void Universal Mind's Avatar
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      If you were moving at that speed, you would not be able to have a phone conversation with anybody back home because it would take too long for the signals to reach you. The person would have hung up the phone long (to him) after you said your first word, and you would not get the response. Plus, how long would it take your signal to reach him? Also, even if you could pull it off, the other person would sound like Alvin and the Chipmunks on astronomically powerful steroids, and you would sound like a monotone, indecipherable noise to him. This is just a sidenote, though. I get your bigger point.

      You and the person would be involved in different modes of time, but it does not mean he is ahead of you. He is just happening much faster. That is all it means. It is not like you are ever presently in his past or vice-versa. You would just look like you were freeze-framed if he could somehow perceive you. Nothing more.

      How would you be experiencing my future if your brain is not?
      Quote Originally Posted by really View Post
      God cannot destroy himself because He is Omnipotent.


    3. #3
      Xei
      UnitedKingdom Xei is offline
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      You and the person would be involved in different modes of time, but it does not mean he is ahead of you. He is just happening much faster. That is all it means. It is not like you are ever presently in his past or vice-versa. You would just look like you were freeze-framed if he could somehow perceive you. Nothing more.
      The point is not really what happens during the journey but rather the end consequence of it.

      Just picture it, but perhaps, take it to the extreme. Say it takes 1 second, and when you get back your twin is dead. So you are stood next to your dead twin; is it right to think that his entire life just flashed before his eyes in less than a second? Of course not, his consciousness is still trundling along at the same old rate, 60 or so years ago. This is what I mean by a lack of synchronisation.

    4. #4
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      Like Universal Mind says. It's not so much a twin paradox. Time simply slows down as you go faster, just like time slows down on those atomic clocks in orbit. So, when you get back from .. Alpha Centuari your twin has simply aged more than you did. From a multi-verse point of view though you raise an interesting question. A question who's answer is compounded by the fact that even in our own single universe, "now" never really exists for us. As soon as you contemplate now, it's "then".

    5. #5
      Consciousness in the Void Universal Mind's Avatar
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      Quote Originally Posted by Xei View Post
      The point is not really what happens during the journey but rather the end consequence of it.

      Just picture it, but perhaps, take it to the extreme. Say it takes 1 second, and when you get back your twin is dead. So you are stood next to your dead twin; is it right to think that his entire life just flashed before his eyes in less than a second? Of course not, his consciousness is still trundling along at the same old rate, 60 or so years ago. This is what I mean by a lack of synchronisation.
      No, it's over for him, as evidenced by his dead body. His life went by in a very short time in your perception but a very long time in his. Like I said, if he could have perceived you, you would have seemed like still life. If you could have perceived him, he would have seemed like something much faster than a hummingbird's wings. You still reached the same moment together eventually, or his dead body and your living one did.
      Quote Originally Posted by really View Post
      God cannot destroy himself because He is Omnipotent.


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