Time and the Unconscious Mind

March 4, 2015
Julia Mossbridge, PhD

Mossbridge, J. (2015) Time and the Unconscious Mind. arXiv:1503.01368 [q-bio.NC]

Most of us think we know some basic facts about how time works. The facts we believe we know are based on a few intuitions about time, which are, in turn, based on our conscious waking experiences. As far as I can tell, these intuitions about time are something like this: 1) There is a physical world in which events occur, 2) These events are mirrored by our perceptual re-creation of them in essentially the same order in which they occur in the physical world, 3) This re-creation of events occurs in a linear order based on our conscious memory of them (e.g., event A is said to occur before event B if at some point we do remember event A but we don not yet remember event B, and at another point we remember both events), 4) Assuming we have good memories, what we remember has occurred in the past and what we don not remember but we can imagine might: a) never occur, b) occur when we are not conscious, or c) occur in the future. These intuitions are excellent ones for understanding our conscious conception of ordered events. However, they do not tell us anything about how the non-conscious processes in our brains navigate events in time. Currently, neuroscientists assume that neural processes of which we are unaware, that is, non-conscious processes, create conscious awareness as a reflection of physical reality (Singer, 2015). Thus, if we wish to understand how events unfold in time in the physical world, we would do well to attempt to get some hints about how these events are navigated by non-conscious processes.

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