What fraction of time is present?

Every sin­gle moment, the present is chang­ing into past. In such, what frac­tion of time can we con­sid­er the present? Is it a minute, a sec­ond, or is it a frac­tion of a second?

The philo­soph­i­cal ques­tion of the present is quite broad, as it deals with a spe­cif­ic point in time that can­not be mea­sured. How­ev­er, it is impor­tant to under­stand the idea of “now”. The philo­soph­i­cal con­cept of “now” is con­fus­ing and almost impos­si­ble to define. 

The past and future make sense because we can eas­i­ly share expe­ri­ences from those times; how­ev­er, the mere con­cept of now seems to be nonex­is­tent in its own right. 

The past exist­ed once and the future does not exist yet; how­ev­er, there is a spe­cif­ic point in time where we can all say “now”. This blog will explore the para­dox­i­cal idea of the present, includ­ing some of the dif­fer­ent philo­soph­i­cal view­points on what it could be.

What fraction of time is the best definition of the word “present”?

We may define “now” as a spe­cif­ic point in time; how­ev­er, how can we prove that this point in time actu­al­ly exists? This ques­tion is quite con­fus­ing, because if we are to be pre­cise about what frac­tion of time makes up the present, then it would mean that the present must be quantifiable. 

What does this mean? Well, it means that if some­thing can­not be mea­sured and can­not be quan­ti­fied, then it does not exist. This pos­es a prob­lem for the idea of the present. The present can­not be cal­cu­lat­ed pre­cise­ly because it does not exist; thus, there is no exact amount of time for which we can say there is a present.

Illusion of time

The prob­lem of quan­tifi­ca­tion for the present is not only a philo­soph­i­cal issue, but also a sci­en­tif­ic one. What does it mean to quan­ti­fy a sub­stance that can­not be mea­sured? Do we even have any way of mea­sur­ing “now” on our cur­rent technology? 

The con­cept of the present is so impor­tant to our cur­rent under­stand­ing of the world because it is impos­si­ble to apply any math for­mu­la or equa­tion to “now”.

For exam­ple, what frac­tion of time is going by right now? We could come up with sev­er­al dif­fer­ent answers. Could the cur­rent moment be 1 sec­ond? Could it be 5 sec­onds? It is dif­fi­cult to pro­vide an exact num­ber of time, and this is a prob­lem for the con­cept of the present.

Is it just a “straight line”?

One way of think­ing about time is to imag­ine it as a straight line. One edge would be the past, and the oth­er edge would be the future. We are essen­tial­ly mov­ing along this line; how­ev­er, we can nev­er reach either edge because they both move far­ther away. 

Past events no longer exist, and yet they were a part of our lives; how­ev­er, they can now nev­er be expe­ri­enced again. The future, on the oth­er hand, is a con­cept that exists in our minds; how­ev­er, we have not expe­ri­enced it yet. 

This is the para­dox­i­cal nature of time: the past and future both exist and do not simul­ta­ne­ous­ly exist.

Under­stand­ing what frac­tion of time is the present will allow us to under­stand our lives as a whole.

More about the idea of “Present”


The idea of the present should be impor­tant to us because it gives us a way of under­stand­ing our lives. We expe­ri­ence unique moments every sin­gle day; thus, when we think about these times with love and nos­tal­gia as opposed to bore­dom or hate – then we are tru­ly liv­ing in the moment. 

The idea of liv­ing con­scious­ly is to under­stand that these moments are fleet­ing; they are incred­i­bly small frac­tions of time that will always pass us by until there is noth­ing left but past expe­ri­ences and unknown futures.

In response to the above prob­lem, we could say that “now” is a spe­cif­ic time point in which we have expe­ri­enced some­thing. This would mean that “now” is an actu­al amount of time. 

How­ev­er, it is not pos­si­ble to mea­sure or quan­ti­fy “now”, so it would make sense that our def­i­n­i­tion of it can only be defined by our expe­ri­ence and knowl­edge. The read­er could make assump­tions based on their own per­son­al expe­ri­ences rather than rely on just one truth; how­ev­er, this only leads to more con­fu­sion because every­one’s expe­ri­ences are different.

Philoso­phers have been debat­ing the nature of the present for cen­turies and many have come up with dif­fer­ent ideas on how “present” should be defined:

Idea 1: The present does not exist

This idea sug­gests that the present does not exist, because it is only a con­cept that we can nev­er real­ly under­stand. The past exists as an actu­al expe­ri­ence, and the future exists as a con­cept; how­ev­er, there is no actu­al under­stand­ing of what the present is. 

We can nev­er ful­ly expe­ri­ence these times or we can nev­er com­plete­ly under­stand them. Because they are abstract con­cepts in our minds and they do not have any phys­i­cal pres­ence, then they can­not be said to actu­al­ly exist or not exist.

Idea 2: All time is the present

This idea sug­gests that all time exists right now; there­fore, there is no past or future. The past, present, and future are all dif­fer­ent ways of think­ing about our lives. We can say we were in the past because it is true that we were in the past.

How­ev­er, this does not mean that we are not liv­ing right now because if we are alive, then we must be liv­ing right now. The present is real because it is expe­ri­enced by us; how­ev­er, to any­one else our “now” moment may be the past or the future. 

Relat­ed Post:

For exam­ple, the moment some­one dies and there are no more thoughts or expe­ri­ences – their “now” moment is gone for­ev­er. There is no longer a point in time where that per­son can say they are expe­ri­enc­ing something.

Idea 3: The present is just the here and now

This idea sug­gests that the present is no dif­fer­ent than any oth­er moment in time. It is our own sub­jec­tive expe­ri­ence of real­i­ty and it depends on where you are, who you are, and what you are doing — as well as your emo­tions at that moment. You can have an amaz­ing or hor­ri­ble expe­ri­ence right now; how­ev­er, since the past exists on paper or screens — there must be a “now” some­where in time. 

And, if there was no “now”, we would not have a rea­son to do any­thing; how­ev­er, we do have a rea­son to live every­day because we can say that right now we are alive. We are expe­ri­enc­ing this “now” moment which is some­thing we can nev­er know if it will be gone immediately.

The theory that Present is infinite 

infinity of space-time

This is one of the aston­ish­ing the­o­ries about space-time and exis­tence. If present is infi­nite, and present exists, then infin­i­ty exists. And this is the most star­tling idea about uni­verse.

If “now” is an infi­nite amount of time, it fol­lows that some­thing can­not have a begin­ning or an end if it is infi­nite. So, any­thing that exists would need to be infi­nite in order to exist. If we accept this argu­ment, it fol­lows that the present would be infi­nite because it exists right now and infin­i­ty exists right now. 

All ideas are root­ed in the present moment; there­fore, our minds and bod­ies are part of this eter­nal moment where every­thing con­nects to every­thing else through space-time.


Mul­ti­ple philoso­phers have argued that the present exists in some way or anoth­er; how­ev­er, they usu­al­ly argue that the past and future can­not exist because they are both made up of dif­fer­ent moments. The idea that what frac­tion of time is the present is impor­tant because it allows us to under­stand our lives as a whole. 

The present gives us a rea­son to live, dream, and think about our future plans. It helps us imag­ine a bet­ter world where we can achieve our goals and become suc­cess­ful peo­ple. We love the idea of being alive and liv­ing right now; how­ev­er, we also dread the idea of death because at that point it would be impos­si­ble to expe­ri­ence any­thing else.

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