The construction of the objective present

Discussion in 'General Philosophy' started by Magical Realist, Feb 25, 2016.

  1. Magical Realist Valued Senior Member

    "In the words of the great scholar of Buddhism, Fyodor Shcherbatskoy: “Everything past is unreal, everything future is unreal, everything imagined, absent, mental . . . is unreal. . . . Ultimately real is only the present moment of physical efficiency.”

    But really, is the present even real, in the sense of something that just objectively occurs? Think about it. You're sitting in the park gazing at a tree. The tree and you with it are conceived by you as happening all at the same time. You are embedded in this moment of immediacy. But were that so, would you even be able to experience the tree? The tree first of all is being. That presumably takes time. Then the light of the sun hits the tree reflected over to your eyes. That takes time too. Our eyes wander over the entirety of the tree and grasp it as one thing. One pattern or shape. Then it takes time for your brain to process those light signals as "tree standing over there." About 80 milliseconds according to research:

    The tree has to cause our own perception of it to be present to us. But by the time it does this what we construct as "there" isn't really the tree as it is in itself. It is a sensory-based construct of a touchable, seeable whole being AS IF it were unconstructed and occurring simultaneous to our moment of awareness. But this construct is AFTER the tree. It's in the past of the tree, projected out beyond us in a fictional time in which the tree and us and everything in the park is supposed to exist all at once.

    The present is thus conceived as one static moment. A freezeframe of all things together at once. But such is impossible. Such a state would result in all things being eternally in the dark and solipsistically isolated from each other. There is no tree, me, the park, and the light waves at one moment. Being here and now is an accumulative process over time, an organic confluence of successive micro-instants creating the illusion of timeless simultaneous coexistence. The present is an illusory artifact of our own awareness, positing itself as a whole happening moment that never begins and never ends and contains everything as objectively present to us.

    “The pure present is an ungraspable advance of the past devouring the future. In truth, all sensation is already memory.”
    ― Henri Bergson
    Last edited: Feb 25, 2016
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  3. wellwisher Banned Banned

    Here is another angle to ponder, which has to do with inner reality, as opposed to outer reality. Say you feel happy, this feeling creates an internal sensory experience that is very close to the present.

    If we look at the tree and begin to feel of happy, there is a time delay. But say the feeling of being happy is induced by the unconscious mind; subliminally. We don't notice this at first, but it gradually comes into conscious awareness. We may begin to feel something, before we become fully aware this is feeling is happy.
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