The Theory of MindTime

Document Type


Publication Date

Fall 9-1-2014


According to modern cosmologists, the evolution of consciousness corresponded with the evolution of matter into increasingly complex, elaborate, and interactive systems, with the human brain providing the highest level of complexity known. Psychological research shows that just about all of human experience is dependent upon and influenced by how individuals perceive time, localize themselves consciously within space and time, process their temporally- based perceptions and experiences, and utilize their episodic and semantic memory structures to engage in mental time travel. We propose that over the course of evolution, sensitivities toward perceiving potentially pleasurable/appetitive and aversive/harmful environmental stimuli and the motivation to approach and/or avoid such stimuli moved beyond reflexive, innate, and learned associative neural networks and became increasingly influenced by, and in turn influenced, the cognitive structures associated with organisms' ability to perceive and conceptualize time. In this paper, we present a theory of consciousness and psychology in which we propose that three general yet distinct cognitive patterns, or thinking perspectives, exist, which we refer to as Past, Present, and Future thinking, and that these three patterns are universal conditions of consciousness and form the foundation and framework for understanding, in particular, all of human thought and interaction, from the individual to the collective, and from the formation of an idea to the creation of cultures and artifacts based on those ideas.