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I don't think time

  1. Nov 11, 2008 #1
    I don't think "time

    I wanted to start a conversation amongst this group of braniacs, as I have little formal education in regards to any school of physics, other than reading popular books written by folks like Stephen Hawkings.

    I was born with a strange "defect" (?) in the perception of time, at least in the core of my mind and perception of everything. I have never found, despite my attempts on many forums, anyone who understands what I am talking about. To me, the moment I began writing this post is the same as the moment I am typing X in this sentence, and is the same moment as when I submit the completed post, although I am only aware of the big picture after it has happened.

    My use of multiple tenses may sound like a typical perception of time, but it is an adaptation learned and now automatic. I have identified somewhat with dyslexics, but only when it comes to communication and language. As soon as we head into even basic math or conversations about tense, we lose each other. Most people, after hearing this, think I am crazy. But I have learned to interact with people in a very structured fashion.

    I tend to express it linguistically like an exponential possibility of words finding a linear sentence... I can't explain it other than saying a logarithmic curve, to me, is linear any time I interact with others, but I understand the curve in the past, or "then" sense.

    The best way I have ever been able to explain it to anyone (with the help of much smarter friends) is that to me, everything is "then". What we call the "future", at least the way I know it, is an abstract until it becomes "then".

    I don't really "get it" when it comes to the concept of time. I don't "get" everyone's death-grip on it. I wear a watch, but it is really just a tool to understand and interact with others. I have never been able to grasp the concepts of distance or speed, as they are all based on the construct of time. I can visit my parents, which I know are 90-120 minutes away if I drive following traffic rules, but I only know this in words so that I can communicate with others. It really has no meaning to me. There are thousands of examples of this.

    So I was asked by a friend, instead of just posting on general psychiatric and dyslexia forums, try a physics forum. And here I find myself, asking all of you some questions:

    1) Is time REAL, or is it just the construct of the normal human brain?
    2) How do we measure and quantify something like "Time"
    3) If time is just a perception, wouldn't concepts like "distance" and "speed" be meaningless, just as I see them?
    4) My friends tell me I am selfish, but if time were simply a construct of the human brain, might not the absence of time comprehension simply be a dormant gene expressed now that society has progressed enough to support it?

  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 11, 2008 #2


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    Re: I don't think "time

    I have no idea what you're describing like many others. To answer your questions you might like to read philosophical perspectives on time.



    With regards to your problem, if it is really irritating for you or you just want some sort of label for it, I'd consider seeking professional help. I'd imagine it would have to be pretty specialist.
  4. Nov 11, 2008 #3
    Re: I don't think "time

    How did you decide that your perception is different from others'? If you've had this all your life and adapted well enough, when did you realize that it was different?
  5. Nov 11, 2008 #4


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    Re: I don't think "time

    I have the same question. How do you know your perception of time is different that mine, for instance?

    I where a watch, but I only really use it so I can interact with others. (i.e. "Meet me at 2:00" really doesn't have any other meaning than "Meet me when those two little arrows line up just right."

    There really is no difference between 5:00AM and 5:00 PM to me other than the position of the sun and how tired I am.

    What is the difference between what I just described and your experience?
    Last edited: Nov 11, 2008
  6. Nov 11, 2008 #5


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    Re: I don't think "time

    I've got to agree here that you may be creating a problem where there is none. What exactly are you expecting to experience?

    Well of course. We don't know or sense the future.
  7. Nov 11, 2008 #6
    Re: I don't think "time

    I guess indeed the future does not exist, we have to wait for it to come into being. Tomorrow is just another day and today is the tomorrow you worried about yesterday.
  8. Nov 11, 2008 #7
    Re: I don't think "time

    As far as I can tell by your description, I perceive time the same way. I don't think there's anything abnormal about it. I think you're focusing too much on the perception of time. We constantly see only the present because we are constantly in the present. And fortunately, it comes free of charge! :biggrin:

    The moment you're describing in that quote, I suppose might be glaring to you because you're so focused on it, is no different from how I perceive change in the present moment. And you're aware of that big picture thanks to recollection of all that happened with each passing moment. Maybe it would help you to imagine what your perception/experience would be like if any of what you described didn't happen. How else are we supposed to perceive time?

    ADD: Come to think of it, if you dwell on some things long enough, they can begin to seem unreal or strange/unnatural. A quick example off the top of my head is when you read/speak the same word repeatedly for a really long time, it doesn't look or sound quite the same anymore. Foreign, even. I suppose your perception of time could be of a similar result. Maybe. *shrugs*
    Last edited: Nov 11, 2008
  9. Nov 12, 2008 #8
    Re: I don't think "time

    Lets say that we have infinite amount of possible futures. Then what difference does it make whether we assume that they have already happened or not?
  10. Nov 12, 2008 #9
    Re: I don't think "time

    I agree with OAQfirst, I don't think there is anything abnormal about you either. A lot of people have trouble with tenses and its something that is learned through practice. I remember when I was a little kid I thought I was completely abnormal because I had to breath and didn't think anyone else did. But given my low level of intelligence at the time, how was I suppose to know otherwise?

    I believe in order for something to have primary consciousness, a perception of time is required. Whether that perception of time is different than someone else's (faster/slower/randomized) is another story. Your mind may not be able to coherently put your experiences (information obtained from your senses) in a chronological order, but you do have a sense or an understanding of time. A lot of people, including myself, sometimes have trouble putting stimuli or experiences in the correct chronological sequence at which they actually happened. Usually when I don't sleep for two days I start to do this constantly.
  11. Nov 13, 2008 #10
    Re: I don't think "time

    I was about to add to this but agaiziunas seems to have left the building ...or maybe lost track of time.
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