The Owner says we must hurry because it is 7am and time to go.
But I am tired, I say. I need to sleep.
You should not be tired, says the Owner, as it is 7am.
Or, I say, because the Moral Dog is Deeply Philosophical, it should not be 7am, because I am tired. I need to sleep.
Perhaps, says the Owner, you were up all night Howling at Foxes, AND you are tired, AND it is 7am.
Or, I say, I was up all night Howling at Foxes AND now need to sleep AND Time is Meaningless. St Augustine said we can perceive or experience only what is contained in a momentary present, I say. As time passes, the moment that was once the present becomes the past, and a little part of the future becomes the present. In this way time is said to pass, with the experienced present appearing to slide forward into the future, leaving the past behind. But the past and future are therefore only concepts. The present does not travel forward through time. It simply changes. 7am, therefore, has no real meaning. The present is all there is and in it the Moral Dog needs to sleep.
It seems to me, says the Owner, the Moral Dog is relying on Presentism, which is widely held to be incompatible with the Theory of General Relativity, which suggests that there is no such thing as a fixed moment in time, since it regards the flow of time as malleable and relative. Einstein said all time is an illusion. The present is therefore not real either, so the Moral Dog may as well forget about sleeping in it.
In that case, I say, it is even less likely to be 7am even than it was before, and that is even assuming that before is a concept we can allow in this conversation. Therefore, whatever it is, it is not 7am and the Moral Dog’s need to sleep is unchallenged by the enigmas of the space-time continuum.
Not so fast, says the Owner. John Locke said the Passage of Time is obvious to anyone who thinks that we have a train of ideas which constantly succeed one another. Reflection on these sequential ideas gives us the sense of succession and duration that is Time. The Moral Dog can clearly Thus Reflect. This proves that it must be something, and it may therefore be 7am.
I cannot think at present, I say, and so have no train of ideas, not even a single small carriage of the type drawn by Thomas the Tank Engine. This is because I am tired. I therefore have no sense of succession or duration through which to allow anyone else to claim I can appreciate any degree of 7am-ness.
Very well, says the Owner. I shall go alone.
Where are you going? I ask, although I can barely get the words out through my tiredness.
I am going through the Park to the coffee shop, says the Owner. Since in this particularly illusory notion of the present that I inhabit, with or without the Moral Dog, the concept that I have tried to claim as 7am is being imagined simultaneously by both the Park Keeper (who I can hear ringing the opening bell) and the Man in the Coffee Shop (who is frothing as we speak). Given that it appears that they generally agree that it might be 7am then it does not really matter whether it is or it is not 7am, I am going through the Park to get a coffee.
The experienced present slides forward into the future, in a malleable and relative way and I find myself unaccountably next to the front door.
Oh, she says, Hergest, I thought you were too tired to accompany me.
Suddenly it is as if the tiredness has flown away, I say.
What a coincidence that should happen at 7am, says the Owner.
Isn’t it, I say.
Hergest the Hound
I am a dog of many thoughts.