Time and the Privileged Observer


Hancock, P.A. (2005). Time and the privileged observer. Kronoscope, 5(2), 176-191.

This paper addresses the persistent problem concerning the integration of physical (external) with psychological (internal) expressions of time. While the history of cosmological science demonstrates the fallacy of the conception of the physically privileged observational point in the Universe, I argue that it is just such a privileged position which characterizes the unitary nature of individual human consciousness. A rational, but flawed implication of this latter observation is that there is a unique spatiotemporal point within the brain at which reality is experienced. This flaw can be exposed through reference to the sensory simultaneity problem. Evidence indicates that since no such unique neural location exists, the brain finesses the issue of absolute timing at a sensory level by simply avoiding the problem of time-tagging such events altogether. While this finesse solves the simultaneity conundrum at a sensory level, I argue that the need for personal temporal continuity and the ability to outpace exogenous time by the projection of possible futures are solved elsewhere in the brain. A brief account of these latter properties is also presented.

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