Saturday, April 15, 2017

Time, times, and half a time

I'd like to make a brief observation about the experience of time. The nature of time crops up in some theological conversations. For instance, freewill theists are apt to espouse the A-theory of time rather than the B-theory of time. They say the future is open. Indeterminate. 

According to classical theism, God is timeless. Conversely, some freewill theists say God entered time at the moment of creation or the moment of the Incarnation.

You also have debates about mature creation. For instance, Gosse distinguished between prochronic time and diachronic time. 

Let's take a comparison. Suppose a video gamer designs a dynamic, interactive story. This story involves three different times. To begin with, the virtual characters are dynamic. The plot unfolds in real time. Scenes change from one timeframe to the next. There's a flow of time.

In addition to the actual temporal succession, the plot may unfold according to a calendar. Events happen on particular days or time of day. Events occur in particular years. So the characters operate within a chronological framework. 

Suppose, for instance, the game is set in the middle ages. Suppose the game is a reenactment of the Song of Roland. 

In that case, there are two different times or temporal perspectives or temporal levels. There's the real time flow of events. How long it actually takes for a character to say or do something in the game. Then there's the assigned chronology of their historical period.

Finally, you have the timeframe of the gamer, who exists outside the simulation. For instance, he will design the game in advance. He will then activate the game. 

The internal chronology of the story and the real time succession of events don't strictly map onto each other. There's a distinction between narrative sequence and actual succession.

Suppose the virtual characters are artificially intelligent. From within their experience, from within the simulation, could they distinguish real time from calendar time? 

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