Time and Consciousness


Putting a thumbtack in this one for later:

The sensation of cause and effect — time and its directionality — is actually the perception of the gradient of increasing entropy in a closed system. Being able to perceive this gradient would have evolutionary advantages, in the same way as perceiving other gradients — e.g. chemicals (via odor), pressure (via touch), or light (via sight). A dinoflagellate will respond to any of these using only the most primitive receptors. If a more advanced being can perceive that an action may induce a result, then it can anticipate results.

But nothing about this directionality is necessarily objective, any more than “stinky” or “purple” are objective properties. Dogs are a zillion more times sensitive to odor than humans but can’t see the color we call purple. I recall from reading physics years ago that quantum equations work equally well in either temporal direction. “Time” may just be how sentient beings perceive a path through the events of the universe. Remove that perception and time could either be a single point — everything happening all at once — or a multidimensional space full of disconnected events.


  • Free will is an illusion, or irrelevant, or a profoundly limiting way to understand behavior
  • It could be possible to “remember” the future, or events that never have/never will happen
  • More advanced beings with more subtle perceptions would see time differently, in the same way we have much subtler perception of light than dinoflagelates
  • What are effects on the moral dimension of cause and effect?
  • “Consciousness” is a meta perception: I perceive that I am perceiving time

People returning from LSD trances, out of body states, near death experiences etc. often report they lose sensation of time and self. Such experiences defy language and rational expression.

This is surely not a new strand of thought. Look into this.