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About parsec

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  1. parsec added a post in a topic The Flow of Time   

    The difference is that we have explanations for why the rose appears to be red, to sound rustling, and to smell sweet, in the way of light waves, sound waves and chemical reactions, but there has been no explanation given for why we appear to be now at one time and now at another.

    That is, I think it still needs to be explained how phenomenal consciousness makes the film of life "go".

    Temporally speaking, I see there to be little more to phenomenal consciousness other than finding yourself 'now at one time and now at another'. Phenomenal consciousness simply experiences the illusion of passage. I don't think it can also act as an explanation of the illusion.
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  2. parsec added a post in a topic The Flow of Time   

    I hope nobody minds if I make a late edit to point 8 of my latest post:

    I just wanted to fix the last few sentences of the above quote. I wrote this late last night, but only noticed the sloppiness of my expression when reading it again this morning. So, to repeat the full quote with the amended final sentences (amendments in italics):

    8. However, what points 6 and 7, taken either together or separately, fail to explain, is how or why we should find ourselves to be now at one moment and now at a later, successive moment. If we could experience the static universe without illusion, then we should find ourselves to be 'now at time t and now at time t (again)'. But we don't. Instead, we have the illusion of passage.

    I did not intend to remove this statement from its context, but I felt that the edit was required, so please return it to its context and see point 9 after this. Thanks.
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  3. parsec added a post in a topic The Flow of Time   

    David, I'm not sure if you're intending to respond further and you're just mulling over these latest posts, or whether you've given up on this discussion for good. However, I hope that it is not the latter. We've been over this topic for some years now, and I feel as though I'm only just starting to express my views with some clarity. Frankly, I don't think I've been all that rude, or out of line, during this discussion. Anyhow, here is an attempt at summarising the arguments given in my previous post. I hope this helps to further the discussion.

    1. We find ourselves, or our conscious perspectives, to be 'now at one time and now at another'. We call this "passage".

    2. Presentists and other dynamic theorists consider passage to be real, while eternalists and other static theorists consider passage to be an illusion.

    3. The onus is on static theorists to explain this illusion of passage within a static universe.

    4. Such an explanation cannot resort to an assumption of passage, since passage is deemed to be illusory in a static universe.

    5. The experience we should have of a static universe - assuming that it is possible to have any experience in, or of, a static universe - is to find ourselves 'now at time t and now at time t (again)'. That is, our conscious perspective should not actually move/pass between times. Instead, we should eternally find ourselves to be forever at the same time (and date). Contrast this with the putative illusion that we find ourselves to be 'now at one time and now at another'.

    6. Part of David's argument has been that all of an individual's temporal parts experience themselves as being present at each of their respective times, which sounds a lot like the experience of the static universe I outlined in point 5, above. However, our conscious perspective somehow, apparently (but not really), passes from moment to successive moment. It looks (to the conscious observer/perspective) as if our phenomenal consciousness is passing through time, even though, in reality, all the temporal parts are experiencing themselves as being present at their respective times. But how is it, then, that we have this illusion of passing from moment to successive moment? If all our temporal parts experience themselves as being present, then why should we find ourselves having the illusion of being 'now at one time and now at another', instead of finding ourselves to be 'now at time t and now at time t (again)'?

    7. Another part of David's argument has been to utilise the "experience of succession" as an explanation of the illusion of temporal passage. I dealt with this in my last post, but to summarise, the "experience of succession" is where a temporal part encodes all the memories up to and including the time at which the temporal part exists, and from there it compares past against present memories to determine that it has somehow passed from one time to another, even though, in reality, nothing has moved or passed. Presumably this is connected with the explanation of temporal parts given in point 6.

    8. However, what points 6 and 7, taken either together or separately, fail to explain, is how or why we should find ourselves to be now at one moment and now at a later, successive moment. If passage is an illusion, then we should find ourselves to be 'now at time t and now at time t (again)'. But we don't. Instead, we have the appearance of passage.

    9. No explanation has been given for the illusion of finding ourselves to be 'now at one time and now at another'. Instead, it has merely been assumed that we do. But to adopt this assumption is - contrary to the static theory of time for which David is arguing - to assume passage and to reject staticity. David assumes passage in his explanations as given in points 6 & 7. That is, he is assuming the reality of finding ourselves to be 'now at one time and now at another'; the reality of passage. However, what I believe is required is an explanation of this putative illusion, instead of its mere assumption.

    10. However, I don't believe that any explanation can be given for passage, which is partly what led me to the views given in my paper of the OP.
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  4. parsec added a post in a topic The Flow of Time   

    I think it is clear from my post that I was making a response to your quote:

    Perhaps what I did not make clear, however, was that I see little difference between this supposedly meaningless question of "why am I finding myself at this time, rather than some other," and the question of why we apparently pass through successive moments, which is the putative illusion of passage, according to static theorists.

    The appearance is that we pass through successive moments, which is just what static theorists reject as illusory. But, to find yourself "at this time, rather than some other," (and now at this time, etc.) just is the appearance of passage.

    To answer one question is to answer both, as far as I can tell. Therefore, to describe one question as meaningless is to describe both as meaningless.

    There should be no motion or passage because it is in direct conflict with staticity, so it should come as some surprise to static theorists, and requires some explanation from them, that we do find ourselves to be now at one time and now at another. Rather than being a meaningless question, I see it as the very thing that requires explanation.

    Yet, presuming that you are arguing for a static universe, you seem to assume the concept of passage without any concern for self-refutation.

    As I also noted in my last post, I see the explanation of the "experience of succession" as attempting to conform to the staticity of Blockworld. That is, I have no issue with the explanation of the "experience of succession" (other than it's being insufficient to account for our experience of passage). It is, instead, what appears to be your additional, unquestionable assumption of passage - that we find ourselves now at one time and now at another - which I consider to be in direct conflict with a static theory of time.

    It is supposed to be an illusion that we find ourselves to be now at one time and now at another, since this is what provides the impression of, or what we interpret as, passage. So, please, explain how this illusion works. If nothing really moves or passes, then why should our conscious perspectives appear to?

    This explanation of the experience of succession is all consistent with staticity. But this "encoding" explanation can only work as a comparison between present and past states. But if nothing really moves, then there should be no reference to a present state, or else the present state should not change/move. This is why I said I could only understand it if we were already at the end of our lives.

    The problem begins when you start talking about times after T3. Of course, T4 encodes all the memories from T1-T3 as well, but the problem remains as to how our conscious perspective moves from T3 to T4. This is what the experience of succession alone cannot account for. On its own, the experience of succession can only account for the illusion of passage from a perspective that compares present to past states; that is backward-looking. But it cannot tell us how the present perspective finds itself at ever-later (successive, future) moments. And, to simply adopt this assumption is to assume passage.

    I think this clarifies my point. How does phenomenal consciousness manage to find itself at different indexical present moments when nothing really moves? Are you saying that phenomenal consciousness actually passes through time? If so, then what is unreal or illusory about this passage?

    Temporal passage must be an illusion if the universe is ontologically static. That is, either you are arguing that passage is an illusion, or else you are not arguing for a static universe.
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  5. parsec added a post in a topic The Flow of Time   

    Well, it appears that everything Barbour refers to as being (what I call) "not-time", is just what the rest of us are referring to when we talk about "time". How is it that you can draw the similarities between Platonia and Blockworld, if they aren't both static theories of time? Of course there is time in Platonia, except that Barbour has sliced it up, rearranged it out of sequence, and called it "not-time", or Platonia, to use his label. But, it is still a theory of time, apparently.

    This just seems to avoid the problem by begging the question.

    Static theories of time, such as Platonia or Blockworld, claim that there is no passage, and that the appearance of passage is only an illusion.

    However, we do have the very persistent appearance/illusion of passing through successive moments in time.

    But, instead of explaining this illusion of passage, you are just assuming it, and claiming that it is meaningless to ask for any explanation.

    Only advocates of a static theory claim that passage is an illusion, and they must, since passage is inconsistent with a static theory.

    Therefore, I think more of an explanation is in order than the mere assumption (of passage!) - that we just do find ourselves to be at ever-successive moments in time - and, in the same breath, to assert that it is meaningless to ask "why" we do.

    Why bother to offer the explanation of the illusion in terms of the experience of succession - as a comparison between past and present memories - in an attempt to conform to the staticity of the Blockworld, if you are also going to assume this supposedly illusory passage, and an ongoing present moment, to help explain the illusion that we consciously find ourselves to be at ever-later (successive) moments?

    This is no explanation of the illusion of passage within the static realities of Platonia or Blockworld. Instead, it seems to be a presupposition of the passage which you purportedly reject, with the added footnote that we needn't question it, or that no explanation is necessary. But, if you are going to assume passage, then no explanation is required, since there is no illusion of passage; there is passage.

    However, those of us who believe that passage is not an illusion, and/or those of us who detect some dynamism in these supposedly static theories, are still awaiting some sort of explanation for this putative illusion of passage through successive moments.

    How does the motionless projector play the still reel of movie frames? That is, how can the illusion be had? Something needs to move or change, whether it be physical matter, or merely a conscious perspective, but this is logically impossible, it would seem, in a static universe.
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  6. parsec added a post in a topic The Flow of Time   

    I think that SSBlues has given a clearer exposition of the problem than I have, but I wrote this anyway, and I have attempted to address all of David's comments. But I would prefer that David respond to SSBlues post, rather than this one; or, in addition to this one, but hopefully, the problem of personal identity that SSBlues has raised is also sufficiently reflected in my following remarks:

    What I meant by "one exists at all temporal parts" is no different to your recent statement (at the top of this page): "If eternalism is right, or if Platonia is right, then our brain states are present at multiple temporal locations."

    I take it that we have been talking about the temporal parts of a single individual person, whose boundary conditions are his/her birth and death. Also, I take it that we have been attributing memories, interpretations, and illusory experiences to these same individual subjects.

    I was merely following you in housing these static theories under the one roof, where you earlier stated:

    "Each brain state at each time capsule in Platonia, just like each brain state at each temporal part under eternalism (different ontologies, same epistemologies) do NOT experience more than one time capsule or temporal part. Their respective brain states are eternally at their fixed time capsule in Platonia or at their fixed temporal part in the blockworld of eternalism. There is no passage in these ontologies of time. All the states, however, exist; in Platonia they exist in different time capsules, and in blockworld they exist at different temporal parts in a spatiotemporally extended object through a 4D space."

    Also, given that we can rearrange Barbour's time capsules so as to accord with our illusory experience of succesive moments, or "put them in order", so to speak, this leads me to wonder why their disorder is even posited in the first place. I can only imagine that it must be for some logico-tactical reason. Or, possibly, to add an element of randomness to his orderly theory.

    But there is the appearance, or the illusion, of this "single "I" that experiences passages." Therefore, how do you, if it is possible, distinguish this single "I" from the "vast multitude of "I's" in the eternalist perspective, each at its own spatiotemporal location"?

    This is not how I view the proceedings. I think the problem results from your attempts to speak of an experience at a time, such as the "experience of succession": the comparison between past and present brain state configurations or temporal parts. Out of interest, where does one brain state configuration, or temporal part, end, and another begin? Isn't it you and your authors who must assume that we are wholly located at a present moment, when you claim that we can have the purported "experience of succession" (without any actual "succession of experiences") at any, and all, of our temporal parts? This is your authors' explanation of the illusion, anyway.

    Okay, but why is my conscious perspective restricted to only one temporal part, and why does it appear to pass through successive temporal parts?

    But this only makes sense if we do, in fact, pass through time as well. And, given that, from our conscious perspective, we do find ourselves at ever later dates in time, then how is it only an illusion that we pass through time? The comparison of present and past states can only provide the illusion if it is also assumed that the present moment is ongoing, and is not a static moment in time. So it seems that I can only have the illusion of a flow if there is a flow - at least from a conscious perspective - otherwise I can never find myself at a later date, where I can compare present and past memories, and think that something has passed. I don't see that the thought alone could provide the illusion, nor that the thought could arise if we didn't find ourselves to be conscious of ever-later (successive) moments, or temporal parts.

    On the subject, how does a temporal part manage to distinguish its present memories (or its "notion of "now"") from its past memories? It hasn't accumulated memories by travelling from a past moment to the present moment, since any appearance of such is only an illusion. So, how would a temporal part draw the line between its present and its past memories, in order to compare them, if all that exists is a single configuration of its brain states at that time?
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  7. parsec added a post in a topic The Flow of Time   

    How is this related to the illusion of temporal flow?

    It appears as though I experience successive moments in time. But if, in reality, each brain state, temporal part or time capsule, experiences only itself, then whence the illusion of temporal flow?

    How does my illusory experience of passage connect up with your assertion that each temporal part experiences only itself? That is, how do my apparently successive experiences relate to the actual experiences of my temporal parts? If they are the same, then how is it that I only ever have the experience of a single temporal part at any one time, when all of my temporal parts are experiencing themselves in reality?

    What is the relationship between the actual, unrestricted existence of Platonia/Blockworld and our seemingly restricted experiences? How is this illusion to be explained? Why shouldn't we have the experience of all of our temporal parts simultaneously, if that is the ontological reality of the situation? Why, instead, do we appear to experience only one part at a time?

    You state that: "Each brain state at each time capsule in Platonia [...] do[es] NOT experience more than one time capsule or temporal part", but can I have the experience of more than one time capsule or temporal part? How is this made possible, given that we don't move between time capsules on this model?

    It is, after all, the illusory experience of temporal flow which requires an explanation. However, a mere re-statement of the eternalist ontology doesn't appear to provide this explanation.

    If my current configuration of brain states (and store of memories) at my current time capsule, can only experience itself, and cannot experience any other time capsule, then how can I interpret, or why should I have the illusion, that time passes? If all time capsules are existent, and one exists at all temporal parts, and all temporal parts/capsules experience themselves as being present, then what gives the illusion that we pass from one Now to another?
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  8. parsec added a post in a topic The Flow of Time   

    Right, but the question I put to you which went unanswered was: is it possible to experience more than one time capsule or brain state configuration in Barbour's "Platonia"? If it is possible, then I think this needs some explanation, since we don't move between time capsules on this model.

    That's true. But it is because I am proposing that any theory of time relies upon both a static/theoretical aspect and a dynamic/flow aspect, or upon both assumptions of presentism and eternalism. And I have been attempting to demonstrate that you and Barbour and Soltau, who all claim to be offering static theories of time (or theories of "not-time" and "not-space", in Barbour's case), are all, still, presupposing the unstated assumption of a presentist flow of time.

    And it is this denial which leaves me with doubts as to the possibility of experiencing more than one time capsule, or more than one brain state configuration.

    I wasn't asking for an explanation of a succession of experiences. I was, instead, questioning the plausibility of the "experience of succession" on its lonesome. The experience of succession only makes any sense to me if I imagine that I am at the end of my life, in a position to reflect back upon any of the totality of my memories, of which I can only be in possession at the end of my life. But I don't believe myself to presently be at that time capsule, or to be presently able to recall memories of future events which I have not yet experienced. If there is such a time when I am in possession of the totality of my memories, and there is also the time capsule that I am presently experiencing, then that makes at least two time capsules.

    I take it that the experience of succession is still a visceral, albeit internal, experience. That is, it is a thought-to-oneself, or a comparison between memories, from which we interpret, or which provides the illusion, that time flows.

    Forgive my repetition, but if, in Platonia, "we don't move between time capsules", then how is it ever possible to experience more than one time capsule?

    Bizarrely, Platonia sounds to me a bit like the view of presentism put forth in my paper of the OP, with its inability to articulate its flow. Assuming that it is possible to experience more than one time capsule, Platonia's time capsules obviously appear to contain the unstated assumption of a flow of time.

    You've even argued that the illusion of temporal flow results from a comparison between past and present memories, brain state configurations, or time capsules.

    I do not understand how this/these can be considered as a static theory of time, or as a theory of time which explicitly rejects temporal flow, when the theory displays such an obvious, yet unadmitted, reliance upon temporal flow.
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  9. parsec added a post in a topic The Flow of Time   

    If "those numbers never happened", then how did he accumulate those memories? If he doesn't attain them via experience, i.e., they just exist as a configuration of brain states, then how can they even be called "memories"?

    I would have no problem with this if we all found ourselves to be at the end of time. But we don't. So, I believe, it still remains to be explained how we move between time capsules, or how we move between configurations of brain states. If "There is no being or becoming, no movement or transmission between them. They just exist in Platonia," then it would seem as though there is no possibility of experiencing more than one time capsule or brain state configuration.

    I would go further and say that no experience is possible in a static universe, but I will go along with your "experience of a time capsule" for the sake of discussion.

    What is being interpreted? You've already followed Barbour in asserting that time and space do not exist, so it wouldn't appear to be an interpretation of the external world. But are memories something to be interpreted?
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  10. parsec added a post in a topic The Flow of Time   

    There appear to be two incompatible assertions here. Firstly, there is no time and space, and no temporal parts. Secondly, the many "Nows" which constitute time and space exist. I don't see a difference between the existence of temporal parts and the existence of many "Nows".

    Barbour states at the beginning of one of those papers that he starts out by assuming that there is no flow of time. So, it's not as though it is the conclusion of his paper, or that he reaches such a conclusion through reasoned argument.

    Also, he attempts to inject his static configurations of matter with a temporal asymmetry, but still fails to tell us how our phenomenal consciousness appears to move from one "Now" to the next. It must be simply assumed that it does.

    But it is just this assumption (of temporal flow, no less) that, I have been trying to demonstrate, is antithetical to, and usually explicitly rejected by, any static theory of time.

    Barbour also ends one of his papers claiming that he one day wishes to propose a theory which includes an explanation of qualia, so he doesn't seem to consider our phenomenal consciousness as a "Nothing", as the Soltau paper does. This leaves me struggling to discern your own position, which is the main reason I described the move to Barbour's works as a "distraction."
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  11. parsec added a post in a topic The Flow of Time   

    If Barbour's work is of relevance to the preceding discussion, and/or to your position, then why not just state it in your own words, instead of making me read through his works, so that I can only guess what (you believe) is of relevance?

    It appears to me that you've been arguing for eternalism prior to your introduction of Barbour, and now wish to change your position to argue that "we can do away with the eternalism and the block universe, and do away with the dispute between presentism and eternalism, by doing away with time (and probably space as well). See: Julian Barbour." Or maybe you're not. But it would be a lot easier if you would just summarise the sections or conclusions of relevance, and present your own views on time and eternalism, in your own words.

    I think I've actually been quite accommodating. I started this discussion hoping to talk about my paper. Instead, it's been mostly another discussion on your position of eternalism. So, I have tried, in some small measure, to demonstrate the ideas in my paper by arguing that eternalism is insufficient to account for time. This is why I demand an explanation of the putative illusion of temporal flow, and I believe that I have every right to demand it: I'm defending the views expressed in my paper. However, I have no desire to argue against a moving target.
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  12. parsec added a post in a topic The Flow of Time   

    And, as I have stated, this explanation does not explain our future-directedness in time. Also, could you please explain the distinction between "phenomenal consciousness," "subjective experience," indexical content," and the (illusory) "experience of a flow of time."

    You argue that, in reality, each of an individual's temporal parts experience their present moment over and over again eternally, and that this provides for the illusion of passage. However, you also wish to argue that we have the illusory subjective experience of the successive appearance of each of those temporal parts, which is the illusion of time's flow.

    Firstly, if we can only have the subjective experience of time as an illusory flow of successive moments, then how can an individual's temporal parts be said to experience anything (especially repeatedly)? It strikes me as odd to explain an illusory experience by a real experience. To explain an illusory experience, F, by a real experience, R, seems to make an illusion of the illusory experience (i.e., we don't really have the illusory experience. Instead, we have the real experience). But, presumably, we can only experience one or the other, and you've already made the claim that we can only experience time as flowing.

    Secondly, if we grant that the temporal parts do repeatedly experience their present moments, then where is the illusion? The illusion must be in the connection, or in the apparent movement, between temporal parts - in getting from one temporal part to the next, and in our experiencing each temporal part only once.

    This is what requires explanation. But your explanation of the illusion, as a comparison between past and present states, does not explain this.

    As for your Barbour links, which I have read through, he does not explain this either, so I see it as more of a distraction, rather than of any help to the discussion.
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  13. parsec added a post in a topic The Flow of Time   

    If, according to eternalism, it is an illusion that time flows, and an illusion that there is an objective (ongoing) present moment, then it seems to me that eternalists need to explain how it is that our experiences provide the appearance that time flows, and explain how the present moment appears to move through time with us. Simply assuming the existence of an ongoing present moment would seem to be a viable option for presentists, but eternalism rejects the reality of the flow of time, and an ongoing present moment, as subjective illusions. Therefore, I don't see that this option is available to eternalists. If the experience of successive "now"s, which constitute the apparent flow of time, is an illusion, then this experience cannot merely be assumed, but stands in need of explanation.
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  14. parsec added a post in a topic The Flow of Time   

    I don't know how else he could intend those terms to be taken. But his own posts seem to contradict your assertion that "Davidm probably does not intend those terms ["past and present states"] to be taken literally" (from post #23):

    I don't see how David can simultaneously claim that our experiences don't change, while also asserting:

    That is, David wants to argue that all his temporal parts believe that they are at the present moment, where the illusion of a flow of time is brought about by each temporal part "encoding" all his experiences and memories up until each of those temporal parts. But, implicit to his argument is that, according to his "subjective perspective," he only experiences one temporal part at a time, and that his subjective perspective is always at a different (in particular, successive) temporal location. This latter, unstated assumption, is precisely the perspective of presentism.

    And I understand that this is the same problem that we're both having with David's explanation of the illusion (according to your post #36).
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  15. parsec added a post in a topic The Flow of Time   

    David has offered an explanation of the illusion of time's flow as a comparison between present and past states, so I'm not sure how you've arrived at your assertion that David suggests that there is no "illusion that time flows from t1 to tn." His explanation of the illusion would appear to suggest otherwise.

    But besides that, if "the mind is eternally experiencing an event at a moment t1 and never experiences t2," then why isn't this reflected in our experiences? That is, why does it appear as though we experience t1, then t2, etc.? The illusion has still not been explained satisfactorily.

    I'm not sure that I follow, but according to eternalism and/or the B-theory, there is no flow of time. A- and B-theorists alike experience time as flowing, but in reality, the B-theorist says, this experience of time's flow is only an illusion. On the other hand, A-theorists do not consider the flow of time to be an illusion. Instead, they attribute this experience of flow to an actual, mind-independent reality.

    I would have imagined that an "experience of succession" referred to an experience (of the world, through time), rather than to a thought (at a time). But, they are your own terms, as far as I can tell, so I'll follow your definitions.

    If a 'succession of experiences' is "first experiencing A, and experiencing B next, and later experiencing C," then this seems to fit with our experiences of time's flow, regardless of whether or not those experiences are illusory.

    On the other hand, if an 'experience of succession' is the thought at a single moment that something has passed - presumably after having had an experience in which something appears to have passed - then the statement of that thought is either true or false. But if it is false, and if temporal passage is an illusion, then how do we find ourselves at t0 before the experience and then at t1 afterwards, when the thought occurs? This is where I find the explanation of illusion to be lacking.

    If the experience from t0 to t1 was an illusion then how did we (or our conscious awareness) get from t0 to t1? Furthermore, why should I experience only one temporal part at a time, instead of experiencing all of my eternally existent temporal parts simultaneously? Also, why should I experience my temporal parts successively, instead of in some random sequence (e.g., jumping between different ages)? And, ultimately, how can there be any experience at all in a static universe, especially given that our biological theories of bodily functions are grounded on the assumption of a temporal flow of successive moments?
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