Every single moment, the present is changing into the past. As 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 in 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”

time

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 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 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.  

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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 every day because we can say that right now we are alive. We are experiencing this “now” moment which is something we can never know if will be gone immediately.

The theory that the Present is infinite

infinity of space-time

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

Conclusion

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 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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