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The past

  1. Nov 29, 2003 #1
    Ok, just something that sort of bothers me...

    Everyone says the past is like... concrete, we know what happened and blah... and the future is unknown... well unless we get into predestination of something... but usually past known, future unknown. And to me... past and future... really its all the same. Its not now. Now is the only thing that's really known. And before and after now.... anything is possible.

    Anyone ever read orwell's 1984? i tend to think of the past sort of like that. The past was constantly be written and rewritten. And each time, the new past was just as real os the former. And i know that in the book there was the "real" past. But, what if there really isn't? The past is just whatever we want it to be.

    Something really really embarrassing happens to you... and when it happens you're so humiliated you wanna die. But years later... its just a funny story... why aren't you humilated anymore? the past has changed.... and instead of embarassing its just funny. Like... maybe thats a bad example... but the past keeps changing...

    Oh... or maybe its like the "if a tree falls and no one hears it, does it make a sound?" if you say no to that... then if something happens and there's no witness, did it ever occur? or if it doesn't change anything did it happen?

    Anyways, i don't know if i really made my point or no... its late, and i don't exactly care... but i guess the short of it is just... is the past really so concrete? is it any more concrete than the future? and if yes, why does it have this quality? If time is the way most people percieve it... then why would the past be solid and the future hazy? to me, i think the past and future share the same qualities since they're just measurements of time. anyways... thoughts? ideas? opinions?
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 29, 2003 #2
    I think the past can be like a gnarl of knots ... the likes of which cannot be undone until some predetermined "time" in the future.

    Yes, the past is just as equally intriguing and mysterious as this thing we call life. Well duh ... :wink:
  4. Nov 30, 2003 #3


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    Interesting... what is the meaning of past, but our memories of it? I guess it all depends on if you believe in the principle of cause and effect. If so, then the idea of cause is what makes the past concrete.
  5. Nov 30, 2003 #4
    the past is past

    Hmmmm ...Without going into a long thesis, I may not be able to answer you. My paradigm is weird. I think we all live in our own universes. Like foam bubbles. These universes are casually connected. we can only interact with entities that have the same bubble shape/frequency/vibrations? As ours.

    I think everything in waking life is an illusion. As we know matter is mostly space, the past is no more real than the future. Forget faster than light travel, etc., you will never (and I rarely use that word) never be able to go back. You can have the illusion of going forward, but only to others. Your mortal time line is fixed and is unchangeable, only because your body is of matter. your body is a prison for your mind. Or to some it may be a vessel. hmmmm, yes I think I answered your question?

  6. Nov 30, 2003 #5
    Our memories only suggest that we existed at some other time than the present, which indeed could appear like a tangle of knots, which are yet to be untangled, "psychologically" that is. In other words, we've failed to understand the "cause and effect" of human relationships ...
  7. Nov 30, 2003 #6
    I agree. Nonetheless, memories are often accompanied by feelings and emotions and if someting re-occurs from the past you get a sense of awareness of that act which occured, if you could dwell and dive into before you were born and you sensed a similar moment you consider that a past life experience and or out of the body experience, in which you had that feeling before. So if it re-occurs it could be a sign of deja vu.

    Current studies in neuroscience strongly support the notion that a memory is a set of encoded neural connections. Thus, neural connections are likely to go across various parts of the brain. The stronger the connections, the stronger the memory. And a recollection of an event can occur by a stimulus to any of the parts of the brain where a neural connection for the memory occurs. If part of the brain is damaged, access to any neural data that was there is lost. Thus no memory of a previous event. On the other hand, if the brain is healthy and a person is fully conscious when experiencing some trauma, the likelihood that they will forget the event is nearly zero, unless either they are very young or they experience a brain injury.

    So you could technically say the 'past' is the 'present' and the 'present' was the 'past' from a recollection of thought signals that were implanted and never forgotten.
  8. Dec 1, 2003 #7
    Interesting concept. Have you seen the movie "Timeline", yet? Well, I think they got it right in that movie where the main characters (who are archaeologists) discover bifocals and the like, in one of their dig sites; then they all went back in time, so by the end of the movie, you realize that it was their own fault that those modern things had been in an old dig site. IOW, if I were to go back into the past, and do something strange (like killing Hitler, for example) you'd never notice the difference, since Hitler would never have brought on the Holocaust. Ergo, I would have no real reason to kill Hitler, other than that the past is static, and so whatever I do in the past was going to happen exactly as I did it.
  9. Dec 1, 2003 #8


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    Actually, that isn't what I saw in the question. What I wonder is if you don't exploit any tricky fudges like mythical time machines and so on:

    if we say that time is marked only by the chain of cause and effect, and we break the chain, erase all traces of an event, forget it completely, did it still happen? If that event did nothing, touched nothing, is it still real?
  10. Dec 2, 2003 #9
    Sounds like "Sphere" would be a good example here! During the movie, the characters realized that it reacted to their thoughts and beliefs... So near the end when they chose to forget, the sphere reacted by making that a reality as well and thus erased itself and the recent events from their memories.
  11. Dec 2, 2003 #10
    Hmm. Well, had you considered that your attempt to "erase all traces of the even" requires the event to have happened? IOW, if the event touches nothing at all, then it didn't happen, but your lack of knowledge of an event that did happen is (in whatever minor way) a result of a line of events that took place after that event, and without that event the probability exists that you would not even exist now (if it happened before your birth, that is). This is the idea of contingency, which I find to have merit (though it may be completely wrong).
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