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      The Worldview of Relative Simultaneity         (MURAYAMA Akira)

CHAPTER III   The Problems of Time Representation

The worldview of four-dimensional space-time involves neither time representations nor movement and change representations. This worldview must be true logically based on the theory of relativity. However, in actual experiences, we live along with the worldview of the three-dimensional world in which there are time representations and movement and change representations different from the aforementioned ones, or we live with awareness of ourselves as duration. These facts are undeniable.
   In accordance with this reasoning, it is inevitable that we face the following question: “Why does the representation of time flow, the representation of the moving and changing three-dimensional world or something called duration arise in our awareness?” In addition, when we speak of “our representation of time,” what is the scope of “our”?
   This chapter examines our representation of time. Along with this examination, the chapter also explores the subjects of time travel and time direction.

1. Reflective Examination of Time

(1) Time in the Philosophical Theory of Time

Some people may criticize my examinations because it treats the physical concept of time too reflectionlessly. This section approaches the concept of time in an introspective manner.
   Philosophical thinking often handles physical objects in general. Human beings usually choose specific items as examples to make their thinking and understanding processes smooth. Objects as general examples include everything, but philosophers tend to use common office items, such as desks, books, pens and paper knives. I am not aware of any instance in which a philosopher has chosen a hoe, plane, scalpel or torpedo to discuss objects in general.
   I have the feeling that this kind of imbalance may also be prevalent in examinations of time. The objective and physical concept of time involves the movement of heavenly bodies, atoms and elementary particles on the basis of proper theories. In the case of examining time that is directly recognized by the human mind, such as the representations of the past, present and future, I wonder what kind of time philosophers specifically think about.
   Is the representation of time that philosophers focus on the time during which they are pondering over it while drinking coffee in a relaxed mood? Is it the time during which they are looking at the scene, in which foam floats upon the pools, scattering, re-forming, never lingering long? Or is it the time during which they are exploring a cave that has been shaped by an eternal flow of time? It is certain that these are examples of internal time spending, but they are specific examples of time that people spend. Most people have no time to think about the concept of time. Even if someone is sitting beside the river, that person may be watching the movement of a fishing bobber or a fishing fly instead of the floating foam in the still pools.
   In the case of examining the objective concept of time, its generality can be obtained by critically considering universal movement processes. However, with regard to the internal concept of time, the question is how the abstract and general representation of time can be approached. I suppose that the concept entails both individuality and specificity.
   The form that time takes differs from individual to individual. Of course, it includes the time for philosophical thinking. However, it also includes many additional types: the time during which a stock trader is continuing with transactions, while watching constantly changing stock prices; the time during which a distribution supervisor is impatiently waiting for delayed shipments; the time during which a corporate manager is desperately calling business partners or scrambling for money to pay a bill on time; and the time during which a factory laborer is working on the assembly line, watching the clock and waiting for the lunch break in one hour and twelve minutes. That assembly line worker is definitely not lamenting over the transience of passing time. You should also consider examples such as the time during which a researcher, so immersed in detailed laboratory work, forgets the flow of time; the time during which a farmer is seeding in hope of a good harvest in the fall; the time during which a brain surgeon is performing a delicate operation, but expecting slight chances; the time during which a terminal cancer patient is spending his or her short life, fighting weakening physical conditions; the time during which a project leader is wavering between Plan A and Plan B; the time during which a candidate is desperately asking people to vote for him or her the day before the election; the time during which a soccer player is carefully watching for a perfect passing opportunity, dribbling toward the goal in the last few minutes of the game; the time during which a rock fan who has successfully secured a ticket after a five-hour wait is going wild at the concert; the time during which you are wallowing in nostalgia; the time during which you are spending time in an absent-minded manner; the time during which a prisoner is waiting for execution; the time during which a fighter pilot has locked on to the enemy tank; the time during which the tank driver has been locked on by the enemy fighter pilot; the time during which you are looking at scenes of war and destruction on television at home, while eating; the time during which a Unit 731 soldier of the Japanese Imperial Army soldier is conducting a live human experiment; the time during which the victim is undergoing this live experiment on his or her body; the time during which the commander-in-chief makes a decision to drop an atomic bomb; the time during which the atomic bomb is being dropped; and the time during which you are kissing your loved one. In this way, there are numerous types of time for individual persons.
   To summarize, there is the time during which you are so buried in space-time that you cannot even be aware of the passage of time; the time during which you are wishing your precious time would not pass; the time during which you are just hoping that time will go by as quickly as possible; and the time during which you cannot believe that there exists such time. Although the length of time is considered equal in terms of physics, time can feel longer or shorter and sweet or even brutal psychologically, depending on the context.
   Furthermore, in philosophical terms, the experience of time passage often seems to be examined on the basis of individual internal criteria. Actually, human beings experience time-flow in groups, and their relationships bring effects on their consciousness of time profoundly. It is essential to note that the scale of human groups ranges widely, from the relationship between two people to the level of large organizations of tens of thousands of individuals. Humans are a social animal and their recognition of time is accordingly social.
In this context, I keep to the idea that abstract time theories are not sufficiently appropriate to completely describe the subject of time. However, the primary focus of this study is to examine abstract time theories, so only general and universal forms of examination are presented here. However, I believe that if you want to delve into individual and concrete subjects vividly and radically, you should do so through abstract approaches. Philosophical reflection on time is expected to form the foundation for broader perspectives whether or not it is possible.
   With respect to the current situation of the philosophical theory of time, it is largely divided into two main categories of moderate segregation. On one hand, the philosophical theory of time deals with only objective time based on physics and regards specific human time as subjective, without going into details. Alternatively, the physical concept of time is considered just a theoretical subject of natural science; the temporal modality of past, present and future and psychological feelings of time duration can be clarified only by reflective examination. This represents the stance of refusing to examine physical matters of time or of giving little consideration to them.
   Just as biology handles biological time and social science handles social time, such as labor time, time can be examined from various areas of interest, angles and aspects. It is natural that there are many different approaches. In whatever area time is treated, however, time is consistently the same, and not a separate subject. The time that is dealt with in various areas is never different from the physical concept of time nor individual psychological time.
   Recognizing these different perspectives of time, I am not comfortable with the situation in which the two major trends coexist in harmony. I suspect that monismic, consistent pursuits are abandoned from the beginning. I think it ideal to pursue characteristics unique to each category by integrating physical and psychological time.
   To realize this ideal, it is appropriate either to induce the psychological concept of time from physical time or to base the physical concept of time on the psychological concept of time. By the time Newtonian dynamics was presented, the physical concept of time based on psychological concept of time was possible by the Kantian approach of regarding time as a transcendental cognition form. However, I doubt that it is possible to examine the “relativity of simultaneity” and “space-time distortion,” which were explained by the theory of relativity, on the basis of the reflective concept of time. In my opinion, that is quite impossible. That is why I take the stance of approaching the psychological concept of time on the basis of physical time.
   The following section examines the foundation and background of the establishment of the objective and subjective concepts of time in pursuit of their integrated model.

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