Submitted for Space and Time: An Interdisciplinary Approach, September 29-30, 2017.
By what conceptual framework do we experience time and space? A study of the human imagination may contribute to an understanding of time and space, as well as the challenges that we intrinsically face in trying to understand time and space.
We describe time and space as two different representations of a deeper conceptual framework which relates five perspectives necessary for decision-making. Decision-making has us relate a model (a closed system) to reality (an open system). In the model, "every effect has had its cause", and so our mind looks backward from short-term effects to short-term causes. But in reality, "not every cause has had its effects", and so our mind looks forward from long-range causes to long-range effects. These two directions are both available in the present (in time) or at the boundary (in space). In time, we imagine that causes precede effects, and in space, we imagine that causes are outside of a subsystem of effects.
More generally, in exploring the imagination, we consider the ways that we can divide everything into perspectives, such as free will and fate. Neurologically, we might say that we are considering how our global workspace might be divided among different awarenesses. This yields conceptual frameworks which describe our state of mind when we grapple with various issues, for example:
We rely on the following types of evidence for such frameworks:
We further consider how our minds shift from one conceptual framework to another. In particular, we describe consciousness as the addition of three perspectives, so that, for example, when the mind is conscious of existence (which requires two perspectives), then it is engrossed in decision-making (which requires five perspectives). We relate this particular shift in frameworks to Kant's Transcendental Deduction and to Heidegger's discussion of modes-of-being.
Given this conceptual framework for decision-making, we discuss why time and space are different, and in particular, offer an explanation why we experience time in one dimension and space in three dimensions. We discuss how time and space come together in a framework of expectations which grounds our emotional life. We also consider how individual minds construct compatible distinctions of systems and subsystems, and thus compatible understandings of time and space.