Possibilism vs. Eternalism: Two Models of Time and Control

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Michael Hoffman, November 12, 2020


Stanford Philosophy Article on Models of Time in Physics

Michael Hoffman, November 12, 2020

Article: Being and Becoming in Modern Physics
Section 2.1: Presentism, Possibilism, Eternalism
Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy


The mind starts out in the ordinary state of consciousness, and experiences time and control using the Possibilism model of time and control, in which it feels like a {king steering in a tree} of branching possibilities opening up into the future.

The future seems to have multiple possibilities, and the future doesn’t exist.

From the “Being and Becoming” article:

Possibilism: on this view, the future is still merely possible, rather than actual (hence its name).

“If one thinks of the future as a branching structure of alternative possibilities (as the result of free human choices), then one can think of the past and present as the trunk of that tree, growing as possibilities become actual in the present. This view is also known as the growing block view.

“Possibilism seems to capture much of the way we think about time and being. It seems as if my future actions can actualize some future possibilities as opposed to others.”


In the psychedelic altered state of loose cognitive association binding (loose cognition), time and control are experienced in the Eternalism model: near-future control-thoughts are seen and experienced and conceptualized like a {snake} frozen into a {rock}-like block universe, which has a single, pre-existing, ever-existing path into the future — the worldline of past and future control-thoughts.

There’s no power of control to alter the future, and it feels like not having control. The future path of control-thoughts feels inflicted on the helpless mind, with control-thoughts forcibly injected into the mind by a hidden, uncontrollable source.

The personal control-agent {king, ruler, steersman}, is turned into {rock}, a frozen powerless {statue}, upon seeing the worldline {snake}. Seeing the gorgon-medusa death-head {petrifies} the ruler, who becomes frozen into the unchanging block-universe {rock}.

The diagrams in the Being and Becoming article are presented as if purely intellectual in the ordinary state of consciousness — but the mind can actually experience the change from Possibilism to Eternalism.

From the “Being and Becoming” article:

“In Parmenides’ eternalism picture, future and past events at a time, on this view, are no more or less real than distant events at a place.

“The now, like the here, is a function of one’s perspective, one’s position in spacetime, and these positions are indicated by the line in the spacetime diagram, representing the history of spacetime locations of a particular person or object. Such a line is often called a world line.

Getting Past Eternalism

In the peak climax of the altered state, upon realizing the mind is profoundly dependent on the creator of the pre-existing control-thoughts lying ahead on the worldline, the mind switches its dependency to now become conscious of dependency on a hidden uncontrollable source of thoughts. The mind is made to sacrifice freewill-premised personal control power.

After the peak-state sacrifice, transformation, and reset, in the remainder of that altered-state session and in subsequent life in both states, the mind now has both models of time and control: Possibilism and Eternalism, but no longer has naive Possibilism, which lacks the Eternalism model.

In a sense, the mind has transcended Eternalism, as well as transcending Possibilism. From naive freewill thinking, to no-free-will, to a kind of transcending no-free-will; now possessing both mental models. Now made durable to endure looking at God, the source of control-thoughts.

Mythemes About Eternalism

Persephone = Possibilism-thinking; Demeter = Eternalism-thinking

Persephone when alive; Persephone after abducted to Hades’; & Demeter:

{Persephone when alive} = Naive-Possibilism-thinking

{Persephone after abduction/death} = Qualified-Possibilism-thinking

{Demeter} = Eternalism-thinking

See the Serpent, Sacrifice, Gain the Prize

The {basket lid} has been removed to reveal the hidden worldline {snake}, and the profound dependency of control-thoughts on an uncontrollable hidden source has been revealed.

To gain the gnosis {treasure}, the hero’s {prize}, the victory {wreath}, the {hero} must get past the threatening serpentine {dragon} and reconcile with it and tranquilize it with the goddess’s {magic potion} to pacify the dragon.

A plate made of rock, with relief depicting a {rock altar} formation, with rock relief of a {snake hidden} in a {covered basket} (cista mystica), with {basket lid lifted} to reveal and make perceptible the normally hidden, block-universe worldline {snake}.

Heracles’ Nemean Lion skin {billowing} like an altered-state spirit cape. {Beardless} implies a youth, now initiated into adulthood.

Heracles {wrestled} with the lion, as the mind wrestles with the threat of non-control in the mature peak mystic altered state leading to climactic repudiation and {sacrifice} of freewill-premised control (Possibilism-thinking).

The lion is associated with Dionysus; for example, Dionysus changed into a lion and chased the ship’s crewmen overboard, turning them into dolphins (rescuers), but the pious {helmsman} who had trust in Dionysus was spared from the god’s {wrath}.

Cista mystica, worldline {snake} revealed from inside a {covered basket}, carved of block-universe {rock}, on a tombstone.

Rock altar of sacrifice with Zeus Meilichios as snake carved of rock. Beardless youth to be sacrificed in initiation, bearded mature man who sacrifices, and veiled woman – aspects of the mind in the climactic mystic altered state.

The rock altar has the worldline {snake} depicted in relief, snake frozen embedded in the block-universe {rock} altar on which to sacrifice {childish} naive Possibilism thinking.

God’s wrath vs. God’s mercy:
o Zeus Maimaktes — “he who rages eager, panting and thirsting for blood”.
o Zeus Meilichios — the “Easy-to-be-entreated”; the gracious, accessible aspect.
— from Harrison, p. 17: https://archive.org/stream/prolegomenatostu00harr#page/17/mode/2up

A god with two aspects, {two faces}:
o Wrath: The threat of non-control during the altered state.
o Mercy: The immediate reconciliation and restabilization of control upon sacrificing, and consciously repudiating, childish freewill-premised control.

A worshipping, {bearded} adult with {child} for initiation, worshipping a snake hidden in a cave, all carved on a sacrificial altar of rock (representing the block universe). The hidden worldline {snake} is now revealed, in the mystic altered state, with entheogen represented by sprinkling {incense}.

“Snake hidden in cave” is isomorphic with “un-covered basket revealing a snake” (cista mystica).


Egyptian gods Isis, Horus and Serapes in serpent form, as worldline {snakes} carved from and embedded in block-universe {rock}. A common art mytheme is a human head or torso with snake body, or a human head or torso coming forth from a snake.

o Past: The snake body can be thought of as the past stream of one’s life in the frozen worldline.
o Present: The head can be thought of as present experiential awareness in the altered state.
o Future: Implicitly the future stream of control-thoughts is snake-shaped, pre-existing, and frozen embedded in the rock block universe.

A Fundamental Mytheme-Contrast:
Tree vs. Snake = Possibilism vs. Eternalism

The worldline {serpent} is shown winding up the possibility-branching {tree} trunk. The serpent’s head is where the nonbranching {tree trunk} (the past) meets the branching (the future), because the control-agent’s mind, in the head, controls the steering among possibilities.

The tree has ivy branches, which are non-branching, forming a non-branching tree.

Jason pierces the golden fleece of the flying ram with his knife, as if to sacrifice the ram.

The serpent guards the {prize}: gnosis, enlightenment, Transcendent Knowledge; the {sacrificial ram}’s golden fleece. The ram was sacrificed on a block-universe {rock} altar.

The worldline {snake} is fated to lead up to drinking the entheogenic {magic potion}, delivered by the {sorceress} Medea in the mixed-wine kylix (cup/saucer).

The entheogenic potion, in an inversion of “summons” and “awakens”, {averts} and {pacifies} the {guarding serpent-monster}, enabling Jason to {steal} or “snatch” the gnosis, Transcendent Knowledge, the {object of the quest}, the {sacrificed ram}.

The worldline {dragon} is {pacified} and the threat of control-loss is {averted}, upon sacrificing and repudiating Possibilism-premised, freewill-premised personal control power.

Greek and Bible Parallel Mythemes

Compare the above ram to Abraham’s {bush}-caught ram provided as a substitute sacrifice to enable Isaac to live and prosper, producing the promised, God-reverent progeny, the {blessed} people.

{ram caught helplessly in a bush to be sacrificed on Isaac’s altar of rocks} = {king fastened helplessly to a tree as a sacrifice, reborn from rock cave}.

Compare the above tree of Jason to the {tree} of the knowledge of good and evil, with worldline {serpent} winding up its trunk, with entheogen/gnosis {fruit} in its mouth, delivered to Eve.

A Third View: Presentism

For the intense altered-state experience of transformation of the mental model of control and time, the Presentism model is unimportant. We can stick with the usual idea that the past is single and exists in a frozen state, as both Possibilism and Eternalism hold. The important shift in consciousness is regarding the future, as contrasted between the Possibilism vs. Eternalism models.

To relate the Presentism diagram to altered-state cognitive phenomenology: the mind’s experience in the altered state is hyper-solipsism: the only thing currently perceived is the present subjective mental constructs that are presented to awareness; one’s own, present experiencing.


Wikipedia: Eternalism (philosophy of time)


Summary of the Egodeath theory

Conceived in Drunkenness: Heroes’ Magic Plants (Ruck)

Vocabulary Word Hit-Counts in Stanford Article

Possibilism – Tech Terms

possibili 17
possibilis 11
possibilist 2
possibilism 9
possibilit 6

Eternalism – Tech Terms

eternalis 15
eternalist 4
eternalism 11

Possibilism – Metaphors

branch 1
tree 3

Eternalism – Metaphors

block 2
rock 0

article loves the tech-terms possibilism & eternalism,
article hates the analogy terms block, branch, tree.

Author: egodeaththeory


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