How experiences relate to the linear concept of time

In this piece, I define time in relation to a person’s experiences in more or less a phenomenological fashion. Time is a concept we use to determine moments from other moments as moments are distinct from each other, and humans generally agree that time is a linear and sequential phenomenon. moments lead to other moments, which lead to new other moments, ad finitum.

Before I lay out my argument, I’d like to lay out a few assumptions.

  • First off time, I assume here that time is a linear concept going straight from beginning to end with no loops or breaks.
  • Secondly, an experience is any set of perceptions that are occurring. (like Hume’s Bundle Theory)

These are the two assumptions I have in mind throughout the piece.

There are three main determining instances of time:

  1. Events we have already experienced; things we remember experiencing; events we at one point considered as occurring now.
  2. Events we’re experiencing currently. Generally, things that are happening / have happened within the scope of our current conscious recollection -what we experienced between two unconscious periods (of sleep). Generally, one 24-hour period.
  3. Events that have not yet been experienced; things that we will at one point or other consider as currently experiencing or having already been experienced.

The first one can be considered as The Past. These are things remembered about the self, others, and the world. Experiences logged into the memory banks of one’s existence. Things experienced in the flow of time, but not currently being experienced. Events we at one point considered as the present.

The second one can be considered as The Present. These are things that are occurring within the boundaries of perception. If I look around and gain experiences, I can say this is happening now, in the present. The recent past could also be considered the present, as things that have occurred and I remember (like just remembering having typed the words before these ones) can be considered as occurring “now”.

The third one can be considered as representing The Future. These are things that are not here now, have never been experienced but will be experienced at some point – they will become the present at some point, and eventually the past. The future is non-determinate and the choices made in the present will affect which future becomes the present (or what the future will be).

We can’t remember things occurring in the immediate present, nor from the future (assuming a linear timeline with no skips) – only the recent or long past is remembered. Although I do make the distinction of the recent past as also being the present. I do consider the waking period between two unconscious events as the present, such as the period from whence a person wakes, to whence they lose consciousness from sleep. Since all the day’s events are within my essence, they can be considered “present” events. Think of it as the venn diagram of the overlapping bubbles of past and present.

In the below diagram I show past, present, and future, as well as the links between them. Where the bubbles of past and present overlap, is the recent past. I generally see the future as distinct from the present, but there is a link between, however small. That’s why the overlap of the future and present bubbles are small. I label the overlap as “upcoming experience” such that when I hit the billiard ball with the pool stick, the result is that the billiard ball will move once struck. These are mostly linked to causal events where some action has an immediate repercussion. I also see the upcoming experience as things I’m about to do, things I’m planning on doing just at this moment, and actions causing immediate repercussions.


I won’t go much more into detail as this was meant to be a simple illustration of how our experiences relate to the idea of the linear concept of time – the past, present, and future. The linear concept of time tells us that time is forever moving in one forwards direction.

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