Why our experience and the object we experience are one

Step 9: Formal and Contingent Time

Time is usually conceived of as a line. However, things may be slightly more complicated. In fact, time may be best represented by two dimensions: a contingent time (the one considered by physicists) and a formal time (the one in which objects are singled out). They are both an expression of the becoming in which we live. I do not mean literally that there are two separate times, but that the becoming of nature is nicely modelled using two dimensions.


Example. On the left, the raindrops take place at t1, then they produce a joint effect in one's brain at t2, (t2>t1). Before t2, there was no rainbow whatsoever, only drops of water. After t2, though, the rainbow has been in t1 as of when it caused the joint effect in one's brain in t2.

A two dimensional notion of time explains why the ontology of the past is never completely fixed. The elements of the past produce a joint effect after some unavoidable interim. As a result of the joint effect, the actual cause is pulled into existence. But only at that moment is the past fixed.

To recap, The ontology of a moment is defined only after its effects have taken place — no matter how far in the future. As of the occurrence of the effects, the actual cause has been there from the beginning . In short,

The past is not defined until it produces an effect, but once it does, the past has been defined since it occurred originally.

Riccardo Manzotti, 27 January 2015 (update December 25st)