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Special Relativity and Perception: The Singular Time of Psychology and Physics

Stephen E. Robbins


The Special Theory of Relativity (STR) holds sway as a theory of time due to its apparently successful predictive structure regarding time-related phenomena such as the increased life spans of mesons or retarded clocks on jets circling the globe, and due to the relativization of simultaneity intrinsic to this theoretical structure. Yet the very structure of the theory demands that such very real physical effects be construed as non-ontological. The scope and depth of this contradiction is explored and, if these time-changes are indeed viewed as ontological effects within STR, an additional problem for the theory is introduced in the context of perception. The origins of this confused situation arise as a result of the fact that STR is an expression of a classical, spatial metaphysic – a framework that equally underpins current discussions of the hard problem. This metaphysic holds an inadequate concept of time and a failure to acknowledge the reality of simultaneous causal flows. These problems are developed against the background of an alternative, namely, the temporal metaphysic of Bergson – a framework that provides a profoundly different base for viewing both relativity and consciousness.

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ISSN: 2153-8212