Tempora Mutantur: an examination of time in physics, biology, and human mental experience
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This dissertation seeks to examine the essential nature of time--both the concept in physics, biology, and philosophy, and the phenomenon in life and culture--with the ultimate goal of deepening our understanding of the empirical manifestation of time in human mental experience. It thus engages with both philosophy and with empirical science, natural as well as humanistic, in the paradigms of history, social theory, fundamental (or philosophical) anthropology, as well as with human neuroscience. The central argument is that while time is not an empirical phenomenon in physics - time itself is not an absolute quality of matter - one can make a certain argument for the real existence of time in biology, and still a different argument for a unique, linear phenomenon of time that derives from the specific human, cultural, experience. To make these arguments the dissertation devotes attention to the analysis of both the concept of time and the empirical phenomenon to which it refers successively in physics, biology, philosophy and history/sociology. Arriving at the conclusion that the linear concept of time (the causally significant relationship between the past, present and future) reflects a phenomenon that is uniquely human and suggests the ways in which this experience is necessarily reflected in the brain.