I might as well paste this, as well. Being not as versed as I could be in modern physics, I have undoubtedly made several laughable errors here (providing proof of the theoretical model of the P-Brane). But this is what it is. I did edit that last paper, some; at the moment, however, I’m not going to bother updating the entry. As with the last paper, this one is a bit conversational.
Being is time, as Heidegger would have us understand. In fact, once this revelation is made clear it seems difficult to deny. What if, however, time were within our grasp? What, then, would Being be left to be?
I had been staring into space, as usual. The discussion was obviously on Kant, but somewhere between my bed and Nutting hall I had managed to fall asleep once again — or if I were still mostly awake, I was at least doing a good enough job at hiding that fact from myself. As usual, it was not so much for a lack of interest in the material — in fact, Kant was amongst the most interesting of topics we had covered all semester — so much as it was that I have the attention span of a deformed Sri Lankan wasp.
Out from what, at the moment, appeared to me to be nowhere, Professor Howard began to speak about time and human perception. I was lacking context, as I had managed to simply not hear most of what he had said up until that point. Nevertheless, undaunted, I triggered my usual classroom mechanism and attempted to piece together what was going on around me. (It should be of little surprise that I am so relatively adept at assembling puzzles out of shadows, as without this skill I would be very quickly lost down a storm drain or within an unfamiliar closet somewhere.)
Yes, it still appeared to be Kant we were discussing; it had to have been, as no one else studied in the course had been quite this out-there and yet oddly familiar. Exactly where we were within Kant was another mystery, but one of secondary importance and one that would likely evidence itself if I were to stay attentive for long enough a moment.
From early on, Kant had seemed uncannily close to breaking into a pupal form of phenomenology. One of the factors which had been causing me to curse my inattentiveness was that I was curious what the man had to say. Compared to the slightly bumbling likes of Descartes and Hume, and despite a two-hundred-year gap, Kant’s ideas had, to me, seemed quite modern and perceptive.
In this particular instance, as I mentioned, Professor Howard was discussing Kant’s views on time, insofar as how it would be related to the Self. Oh, wonderful, I thought. Perhaps my experience with Heidegger would be enough to allow me to fake my way through this if need be — with luck, even make it appear as if I am more insightful than I truly am. As it came about, I had neither need nor opportunity to obscure my cluelessness under heady references. And yet, my having slogged through (at least a large hunk of) Being and Time allowed me to very quickly orient myself within the conversation.
Although it was a step away from the connexion that Being is, in fact, time — or, rather conversely that zeit is sein — Kant seemed to come dangerously close to this claim with his observations about the limits of perception. We do not truly perceive time in itself, Kant more or less insisted, but rather measure it in terms of being. It is the fact that we happen to organize our understanding of the world along a line perpendicular to our perceptions that time, as we sense it, is assembled.
To put it another way, and to think in a non-Euclidean manner, our range of vision (to extend the metaphor to all of our perception) is limited to a very narrow range of signals. We are only able to sense a certain segment of the electromagnetic spectrum, between ultraviolet and infrared. Sounds above or below certain frequencies are entirely inaudible to us (a fact maddening to other conscious life forms, such as audiophiles). Our skin is only responsive to impact of a certain magnitude.
The list goes on, extending past sensory perception and into what it is technically possible for us to comprehend. We are unable to conceive of anything of which we have no prior experience, or which is in not some way at least inherent to us. Even the most inspired and creative of artists are merely drawing upon a tangled network of personal experience. In a sense, the more tangled and unsorted the web, the greater the intuition and either the impression of genius or eccentricity.
It is not so much that such a person’s ideas and impressions come from nowhere as it is that they merely come from odd, nonlinear connexions which others — with a more organized mind — are not in a position to comprehend. That the unusual would be obvious to an artist is not particularly a sign of special insight, but rather of an unconventional network — one which operates in much the same way as any “normal” mind, but which often not even the artist is able to fully comprehend due to the (to-him) alien criteria by which he is forced to analyze it.
Given these perceptual limitations, and given what post-relativistic physics have to offer the cultural collective, it would seem indeed at least plausible (or even probable) that our sight is further constrained in an even more important way: We are essentially trapped into three dimensions, out of anywhere from a theorized nine to an infinite number. Current theory on Calabi-Yau manifolds intends to explain all universal law through the intersection and bubbling of the primary nine-to-eleven dimensions (more are added whenever they seem to be needed). In a simplified manner, it has been seriously postulated that all that is, is the fabric of dimensional space.
Compared to all of the possibilities, it seems infuriating that our range of perception is so narrow. In a sense most irritating of all of the holes in our vision, would have to be time. We are fully aware of its existence; it affects us through every moment of our lives, so much that it is impossible for us to conceive of much of anything — from writing to music to even a still picture or calm sunset over a hill — outside of its influence. We are enrapt within time to the extent that we would not be under any other circumstances, without this linear space to organize and make sense of experience. In this sense, we are time in very much the way that Heidegger means. Or to put it another way, time (insofar as what we understand of it as a phenomenon) is one and the same as what we perceive as our Being.
Without time we would have no capability of even perceiving to begin with, and yet (as a mirror or perhaps merely an equation to the tricky question of our own Being) we have no direct perception of time itself. It is constantly pecking at our consciousness. We see it flitting away, we see its effects or its instants, and yet we are powerless to truly understand this dimension of our world in any means beyond notches on a wall.
As stated, this is a necessity — if we were able to perceive time, then again we would have no space in which to even perceive to begin with. But what if we were to see time, though? We can always ask the question, at least. In that event, we would likely see all of history in the same way that one would be able to view a mountain in the distance. The end of time, for us, would be equitable to the horizon. A being traveling through time would be to us not entirely unlike a car tearing down a highway toward us — while simultaneously bobbing through three-dimensional space. Perhaps to us it would appear similar to a two-dimensional cartoon, in which an object moves through what it considers to be three-dimensional space.
And yet, for such a progression to occur and for us to even comprehend this extra dimension of time, time (as we comprehend the idea) is still required as a reference, as made evident and obvious just by the example provided.
But wait — in this example, need it be time in which we are organizing our thoughts and perceptions? Going by current theory, we have still only barely used half of the universe available to us. Whatever perception we have of the remaining five dimensions would be more or less what we perceive now as matter, energy, natural law, and so forth — just as limiting, and yet as comforting, as always. Except, we would need some space to organize ourselves. Would it be too much trouble to simply adopt a fifth dimension as our new time? It would be beyond my comprehension as to what other obvious and fundamental elements of nature would be made vague and gossamer by the loss of one more assumed level of reality — but hey, it only is one more dimension. Surely the universal fundamentals could hang together well enough with the four-and-a-half that we leave up to assumption.
This would seem to be a workable system. It is not so much time that we need, as it is merely some kind of workspace; some allowance to organize the universe in such an order that it is sensible and that we are allowed to exist as beings. To be sure, as we are now — we are time. Or, rather, we are what we know of and refer to as time. And yet, it does not seem that time necessarily must be being, as such. Heidegger very much has the right idea, but I believe he might be extending his range just a bit far.