We are incapable of having a pain that lasts only a nanosecond (or a picosecond or, to be really on the safe side, a Planck time). Anything that is that short simply wouldn't consciously register, and an unconscious pain is a contradiction in terms. But now suppose that I have a constant pain for a minute. And then imagine a human being who lives only for a nanosecond, and whose states during that nanosecond are exactly the same as my states during some nanosecond during my minute of pain. Such a person wouldn't ever be conscious of pain (or anything else), because events that are that short don't consciously register.
Say that a property is temporally punctual provided that whether an object has that property at a given time depends at most on how the object is at that time. For instance, arguably, being curved is temporally punctual while being in motion is not. Say that a property is temporally nanoscale provided that whether an object has that property at a time t depends at most on how the object is on some interval of time extending a nanosecond before and after t. Any temporally punctual property is temporally nanoscale as well. An example of a non-nanoscale property is having been seated for an hour. The reflections of the first paragraph make it very plausible that our conscious experiences are neither temporally punctual nor temporally nanoscale. Whether I am now in pain at t depends on more than just the nanosecond before and after t. There is a temporal non-locality to our consciousness.
This I think makes very plausible a curious disjunction. At least one of these two claims is true:
- My conscious states are non-fundamental.
- The time sequence along which my conscious states occur is not the time sequence of physical reality.
Some non-naturalists think that conscious states are fundamental. If I am right, then they must accept (2). And accepting (2) is difficult given the A-theory of time on which there is a single pervasive time sequence in reality. So there is an argument here that if conscious states are fundamental, then probably the A-theory is false. There may be some other consequences. In any case, I find it very interesting that our conscious states are not nanoscale.