Time and Consciousness

  • Thomas R. Blakeslee


When we hear a church bell ring and look at the steeple, we feel a very real consciousness of its being there—across the street. Yet the mental picture we have is really almost pure imagination: The vibration of our eardrums inside our head is interpreted, not as something happening inside our head, but rather as a sound across the street. The upside-down image on our retina, also inside our head, is turned into a vision of a church across the street. Clearly, these sensations are imaginative, mental constructions rather than a simple factual awareness of what is happening to our sensory organs.


Skin Conductance Touch Sensation Conscious Control Mental Construction Index Finger Movement 
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  1. 1.
    Canoe sentence by Lashley (1951) quoted in Behavioral & Brain Sciences, 1992, 25(2), 227 (part of a 55-page discussion of time and the observer).Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Harth (1992, p.198).Google Scholar
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    Dennett (1991, p. 197). From a 1963 presentation to the Ostler Society, Oxford University.Google Scholar
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    The electrodes remained in place for a week after surgery. A mild shock was applied to the hand and to an electrode in the neocortex. They each produced a slightly different sensation from a slightly different part of the hand. Even with a 1/4 second delay on the electrode stimulus to the hand, the hand stimulus seemed to occur first. With a 1/2-second delay they seemed simultaneous. The signal seems to go through the thymus, which represses the sensation and then backdates it. Brain, 1979, 202, 193; quoted in Winson (1985, p. 276).Google Scholar
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© Thomas R. Blakeslee 1996

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  • Thomas R. Blakeslee

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