In this telepathic interogation scene from Star Wars, Kylo Ren and Rey are able to see thought processes, images and feelings which rest in each other’s minds. As far as I’m concerned, they would still not be able to answer the important question that initiates The Pressure of Light’s inquiry into remembered-thinking: how do I know for certain that I had the thoughts that I remember having? These Jedi are able to read what cognitive information processing events a conscious mind could perceive, but can they see what information processing events are actually experienced by a conscious mind? I say no, because the nature of thought exhibits qualities that can only exist for memory, not for present-moment experiences: they occur in units, with beginnings and ends, that allow them to exist as perfect iterations of each other, and subsequently to connect through contextual and causal relationships. No thought, feeling or experience of awareness maintains the messy continuity of interaction that all external-universe experiences contain. This is why my essay shows that repetition (or permanence), and subsequently causal and contextual relationships, are born from conscious minds, and do not exist in the universe-external.
If Rey and Kylo Ren were to do an experiment, where Rey said, “I remember imagining Jakku just a couple seconds ago, the market to be specific, and I remember the image I imagined quite clearly. Can you confirm for me that I really did imagine the market at Jakku, exactly as I remember imaginging it?” I believe in this case Kylo Ren could say, “Well, I can see your memory of Jakku, and I can see the market, and I can see the feelings you have when you imagine it, and I can also see the memory you have of remembering imaginging the market. But I don’t know for sure that your memory of imagining the market matches up exactly with the actual imagining experience you had two seconds ago.” The only way Kylo Ren could accomplish this task is by first viewing the imagining in action, watching it play out exactly as Rey saw it play out, then read her memory of imagining the market, and confirm for her that the in-action scene matches with what’s in her thinking-memory. But again, I believe this is impossible, because thoughts don’t play out in the present moment the way the body interacts with the universe in a present moment. Every conscious mind has memories of thinking, but the capacity to confirm the validity of that memory is beyond even Jedi with powers as great as any human can imagine. This is why I claim to have made a discovery about consciousness that is dependent entirely on a philosophical, specifically epistemological, investigation, and in fact partially characterized by the fact that no neurological correlates can possibly exist for this important quality of conscious minds.
In this section I characterize my view of memories of life-external, highlighting, importantly, the dependable presence of heterogeneity in external-events.
The Pressure of Light argues that knowledge accumulates in the human mind sometimes on the straight and measurable arrow-of-time, and sometimes in a time-state distorted by uncertainty and projection. In the case of both remembered-thinking-events and remembered-external-events, the mind carves out a segment of time from what it understands is a much larger time-line of events, so that we end up with memories that have a beginning and an end. On the real arrow-of-time, segmentation is a clumsy measuring tool that is understood to have blurring at the boundaries. The mind could presume an event observed in the universe outside the self stands alone on the arrow-of-time, complete just as it’s seen, but in life on the arrow-of-time the mind quickly learns to presume instead that any event is connected, either causally or contextually, to a whole cluster of unseen events on either side of those memory-carved boundaries.
When I talk about events in the universe, I can concretely know and mutually agree with others that events do happen, that they all exist somewhere on the arrow-of-time, that they often seem to repeat with varying degrees of similarity, and that each of us has very legitimate reason to hypothesize about the possibility of any particular event happening again, having already happened, and what we should all do about that. This conversation, this part of knowledge development, sits firmly on the arrow-of-time, where the unpredictable, but dependably heterogeneous path keeps a reality check on every hypothesized connection discussed. No such check exists in the mind.
Events repeat along the arrow-of-time, but not precisely. Even the sun rising is an event that happens at a relatively different spot in the galaxy everytime it happens. Nevertheless, the perceived repetition of events is what gives my mind the capacity to understand events, to design a reaction to them for next time, to deduce knowledge based on the relatability of one event to other events, which helps even when the relatability is only sort-of there. While the connections help me develop knowledge about the world, real-time heterogeneity keeps my hypothesizing in check by constantly reminding me that while such and such has worked every time so far, every so often I’ll have to contend with a black-swan.
In the universe, on the arrow-of-time, even if I can’t see what happened earlier on the arrow, I can at least feel certain something happened before and after any particular event I observe, likely something relatable, and possibly something I could, to some degree, deduce from my observations. Deduce as I may, I also know there are rules in this universe which can both confirm and disprove my deductions, and all the other minds in this time-dimension know the same thing, and will think about that when they hear the results of my deductions. Knowledge that accumulates in my mind through life lived fully on the arrow-of-time is knowledge that understands the true nature of time. I argue that half of knowledge does not.