On 4 May 2005 Russell Standish wrote:
On this list, we seem to have two fairly clear camps: those who identify observer moments as the fundamental concept, and those who regard relationships between observer moments with equal ontological status.
With my TIME postulate, I say that a conscious observer necessarily experiences a sequence of related observer moments (or even a continuum of them). To argue that observer moments are independent of each other is to argue the negation of TIME. With TIME, the measure of each observer moment is relative to the predecessor state, or the RSSA is the appropriate principle to use. With not-TIME, each observer moment has an absolute measure, the ASSA.
On this postulate (which admittedly still fails rigourous statement, and is not as intuitive as one would like axioms to be), hinges the whole QTI debate, and many other things besides. With TIME, one has the RSSA and the possibility of QTI. With not-TIME, one has the ASSA,and Jacques Mallah's doomsday argument against QTI is valid. See the great "RSSA vs ASSA debate" on the everything list a few years ago.
Now I claim that TIME is implied by computationalism. Time is needed for machines to pass from one state to another, ie to actually compute something. Bruno apparently disagrees, but I haven't heard his disagreement yet.
I don't see how you could get anywhere if you disregard the relationship between observer moments. It is this relationship which allows grouping of different observer moments to give the effect of a continuous stream of consciousness. The human brain is a machine which produces just such a sequence of observer moments, which bear a temporal relationship with each other consistent with your TIME postulate. But I would still say that these related observer moments are independent of each other in that they are not necessarily physically or causally connected. I base this on real life experience (the fact that I feel I am the same person as I was 10 years ago even though I am now made up of different atoms, in an only approximately similar configuration, giving rise to only approximately similar memories and other mental properties), and on thought experiments where continuity of identity persists despite disruption of the physical and causal link between the earlier and the later set of observer moments (teleportation etc.).
Another question: what are the implications for the TIME postulate raised by certain mental illnesses, such as cerebral lesions leading to total loss of short term memory, so that each observer moment does indeed seem to be unrelated to the previous ones from the patient's point of view? Or, in psychotic illnesses the patient can display what is known as "formal thought disorder", which in the most extreme cases can present as total fragmentation of all cognitive processes, so that the patient speaks gibberish ("word salad" is actually the technical term), cannot reason at all, appears unable to learn from the past or anticipate the future, and reacts to internal stimuli which seem to vary randomly from moment to moment. In both these cases, the normal subjective sense of time is severely disrupted, but the patient is still fully conscious, and often bewildered and distressed.
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