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the Hopi people do not experience time as we do
To perceive something as present is simply to perceive it: we do notneed to postulate some extra item in our experience that is ‘theexperience of presentness.’ It follows that there can be no‘perception of pastness’. In addition, if pastness weresomething we could perceive, then we would perceiveeverything in this way, since every event is past by the timewe perceive it. But even if we never perceive anything as past (at thesame time as perceiving the event in question) we could intelligiblytalk more widely of the experience of pastness: the experience we getwhen something comes to an end. And it has been suggested thatmemories—more specifically, episodic memories, those of ourexperiences of past events—are accompanied by a feeling of pastness(see Russell 1921). The problem that this suggestion is supposed tosolve is that an episodic memory is simply a memory of an event: itrepresents the event simpliciter, rather than the fact thatthe event is past. So we need to postulate something else which alertsus to the fact that the event remembered is past. An alternativeaccount, and one which does not appeal to any phenomenological aspectsof memory, is that memories dispose us to form past-tensed beliefs,and is by virtue of this that they represent an event as past.
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We have, then, a candidate explanation for our experience of beinglocated at a particular moment in time, the (specious) present. And asthe content of that experience is constantly changing, so thatposition in time shifts. But there is still a further puzzle. Changein our experience is not the same thing as experience of change. Wewant to know, not just what it is to perceive one event after another,but also what it is to perceive an event as occurring afteranother. Only then will we understand our experience of the passage oftime. We turn, then, to the perception of time order.
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As the Buddhist author Pema Chödrön argues in her book The Places That Scare Us, “Without the inconsiderate neighbor, where will we find the chance to practice patience? Without the office bully, how could we ever get the chance to know the energy of anger so intimately that it loses its destructive power?”