The notion of the “present moment” has intrigued philosophers, physicists, and psychologists alike. Here we review the literature in the physics and the neuropsychology of the “now” in order to connect those two yet unrelated fields. Such a unitary perspective helps us to explain why there cannot be an objective and absolute “now” and why we naïvely tend to believe in a cosmically extended present. In particular, invoking the recent identification in the Cognitive Neurosciences of various temporal integration windows underlying an individual’s temporal experience within physical spacetime enables us to qualify in a more precise way in what sense the now, as frequently claimed by philosophers, is mind-dependent.
BuschNikoVanRullenRufinArstilaValtteriLloydDan“Is Visual Perception Like a Continuous Flow or a Series of Snapshots?”Subjective Time: The Philosophy Psychology and Neuroscience of Eemporality2014Cambridge, MAMIT Press161178
HusserlEdmundBroughJohn Barnett“Lectures on the Phenomenology of the Consciousness of Internal Time”On the Phenomenology of the Consciousness of Internal Time (1893-1917)1991DordrechtKluwer Academic PublishersOriginally published 1928 as Vorlesungen zur Phänomenologie des inneren Zeitbewußtseins. Halle: Max Niemeyer Verlag
McAuleyJ. DevinJonesMari RiessHolubShaylaJohnstonHeather M.MillerNathaniel S.“The Time of Our Lives: Life Span Development of Timing and Event Tracking”Journal of Experimental Psychology: General2006135348367
NewtonIsaacPhilosophiae Naturalis Principia mathematica19723rd editionCambridge, MAHarvard University Press(1726) with variant readings. Assembled and edited by Alexandre Koyré and I. B. Cohen with the assistance of Anne Whitman
SavittSteven F.“There’s No Time like the Present (In Minkowski Spacetime)”Philosophy of Science2000673S563S574In “Proceedings of the 1998 Biennial Meetings of the Philosophy of Science Association Part ii: Symposia Papers” supplement
SavittSteven F.MyrvoldWayne C.ChristianJoy“The Transient Nows”Quantum Reality Relativistic Causality and Closing the Epistemic Circle200974AmsterdamSpringer339352The Western Ontario Series in Philosophy of Science
WittmannMarcArstilaValtteriLloydDan“Embodied Time: The Experience of Time, the Body, and the Self”Subjective Time: The Philosophy Psychology and Neuroscience of Temporality2014Cambridge, MAMIT press507523
Monton (2006) argues that quantum gravity can reintroduce presentism. Wüthrich (2010) offers a convincing criticism of this claim.
See also Savitt (2006) who uses a different structure to explain the shared character of the present which he takes as a given without taking into consideration natural neural thresholds (or integration windows). Interestingly the claim that “becoming” is a primitive succession of events is compatible with a process view of reality à la Whitehead (1929). The flow is a primitive property of the world but this claim can be reinterpreted with the idea that the succession of events is a process and is a primitive property of the world.