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Perceiving Two Levels of the Flow of Time

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Many physicists regard the flow of time as an illusion. There is an upper level flow of time, the phenomenon of past/present/future; and there is a lower level flow of time which is really a flow of (discrete) events. Perceptual completion accounts for the lower level flow of time (actually a flow of events) in a few ways: (a) apparent movement; (b) amodal completion; and (c) dynamic change as exemplified by a newly described modal completion that we called happening. It acts like an illusory percept connecting discrete stimuli in all sensory modalities. The past/present/future distinction cannot exist unless an object is perceived to be the same now as it is then. This cognition requires object persistence. Experiments with object persistence suggest the circumstances when that, too, is an illusory percept. The illusory percepts of object persistence and perceptual completion can account for the entire flow of time. Our findings and conclusions are congruent with a few time theories and cosmologies that suggest that the flow of time is an illusion.

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Stanford University Medical Center, Stanford, CA., Email: [email protected]

Publication date: January 1, 2015

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