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One For The Road

Posted by Bob on June 12, 2003

In Reply to: One For The Road posted by Word Camel on June 11, 2003

: : : : : : : Recently I have been troubled with a definition and I don't know if I may ask it here. I have a difficulty to define past, present, and future. As you see, 'Today' is a present time, but within today there is some past hour and some future hour. It follows that past and future are part of the present time. It doesn't make sense, so it troubles me. May you give a point?

: : : : : : Well..."the present" is the block of time that you are now experiencing. For the rest, there are degrees. The past, the recent past, the distant past, the near future, the distant future. You might see what Merriam-Webster has to say about it.

: : : : : : A Stephen King character, a Wolf/man creature from another dimension calls the present "right here and now." Or something like that.

: : : : : : I have a nine-year-old friend who, his mother says, doesn't like for her to use words like "yesterday" or "tomorrow." He wants her, for example, to say "Monday" instead of yesterday. She worries about him. But he's interested in science and I'm thinking he wants days of the week because that's more precise.

: : : : : Found it: "Good old Wolf right here and now!" - Wolf, "The Talisman," p269

: : : : Some 2500 years ago next Tuesday, Heraclitus said "You can't step into the same river twice." His follower, whose name escapes me at the moment, went further with "You can't step into the same river once." The "present" is a slippery little concept, since a snapshot is a kind of lie that we all agree to. Nothing stands still.

: : : Cue the music.

: : : "Dust in the wind
: : : All we are is dust in the wind
: : : Dust in the wind
: : : All we are is dust in the wind

: : : I close my eyes
: : : Only for a moment, then the moment's gone
: : : All my dreams
: : : Pass before my eyes, a curiosity
: : : Dust in the wind
: : : All we are is dust in the wind..."

: : : Now I'm REALLY depressed.

: : What is the present? It's actually an extremely hard concept that's troubled philosophers, physicists and small shaven-headed men in saffron robes for eons. Using a device like Occam's razor to slice lengths of time into smaller and smaller fragments, one can effectively "prove" that no given "present" can last any time at all, since it becomes the past near-on instantaneously (even if only the very VERY recent past). So, some might say that the present's an ever-travelling non-instant upon the exact point of which our consciousnesses surf... then again others might say "Sod that for a game of soldiers, let's go and have a beer instead."

: : Personally when faced with impossible questions, I always find it easiest to affect a knowing look, tap my finger to the side of my nose and whisper "Quantum".

: "Sod that for a game of soldiers..." But was there Marmite?

Mar might. But not at present.