When I’ve attempted to research philosophy of time I find that a lot of the discussion seems to be about how to give a logical analysis of tenses in language, but relatively little of it seems to pay attention to the relationship between the present moment and phenomenal consciousness (i.e. qualia). Intuitively, all human experience occurs in a distinguished present moment which seems moves forward along the time axis. I’ll call the content of this intuition the progressive phenomenal present (PPP).
B-theorists often say that the present moment and tensed utterances are indexical an offer a simple scheme for systematically translating tensed propositions into tenseless propositions which are indexed explicitly to the time of utterance. It is thereby claimed that all tensed language as well as references to the present, past, and future are inessential conveniences. This sort of analysis overlooks the connection between the present and phenomenal consciousness.
I’m convinced that the indexical account of A-series language works for tensed language that is not intrinsically consciousness related such “I’m now writing a post,” “I came home earlier,” or “the Big Crunch will be some time in the future”. But I’m not convinced that this works for language that directly describes our phenomenal experience in relation to the present moment and the flow of time. If I assert, “All of qualia appear in the present moment,” at 10:19pm, it does not even preserve truth to translate this as “All qualia appear at 10:19pm”. In my original statement I was not saying that every phenomenal conscious experience is occurring at a single point in B-series time. My statement is most naturally interpreted as presupposing the truth of PPP which implies that there is a single present moment which occupies and moves through distinct moments in the B-series.
While this example is a highly abstract philosophical statement, a more ordinary statement can illustrate a similar point. I might say, “I was suffering from a bad headache earlier and I’m so glad that time is in the past now.” The B-theorist translates this as “I am suffering from a bad headache at some time which is earlier than when I’m asserting this, and I’m so glad that the time of my headache is earlier than that the time of this assertion.” My original statement implies, together with PPP that I am not suffering from the headache, since phenomenal suffering cannot occur in the past. Moreover, it is this implication that is the reason for my gladness. On the other hand, the translated sentence implies that I am (tenselessly) both suffering at the earlier time and also not suffering at the later time. It says nothing to imply that the earlier headache event is not an event which involves phenomenal suffering. This means my gladness at the later time is not supported by the same reasons as in the original statement. I might be biased towards my co-temporal part at the moment of speaking, but this is a very different kind of reason. Therefore, the translation does not preserve what matters in my statement.
If deflationary accounts of tensed language can’t faithfully translate the meaning of these uses of A-series language, it seems obvious to me that reason is the intuition that a distinguished and temporally progressive present moment that is a necessary condition for having phenomenological consciousness (PPP).
My question is which philosophers have explored these issues at the intersection of philosophy of time and the problems of consciousness and what are some of their theories and arguments?