There are three aspects to consider when we describe reality: “past”, “future” and “now”. “Now” is thus the middle between “past” and “future”.
This leads to the question whether “now” is both “past” and “future” or neither “past” nor “future”. The difference between them is that if “now” is both “past” and “future”, then it is consistent by meaning that “past” and “future” just are kinds of “now”, whereas if “now” is neither “past” nor “future”, then “now” is inconsistent by meaning that there is no place for it. It means that they exclude each other, since “now” can”t be both consistent and inconsistent at the same time. So, what is the answer to this question? Is “now” consistent or inconsistent? Well, the answer is actually closer than we might think. The fact that the two alternative answers exclude each other does in itself mean that “now” is inconsistent, since if it had been consistent, then both alternatives would have been consistent. A consistent concept simply can’t offer an inconsistent interpretation because it is consistent.
The answer to the first question is thus that “now” is neither “past” nor “future”. The problem with this answer is, however, that it appears to imply that the reality we perceive in every moment (ie, “now”) isn’t real, but that only “past” and “future” are. This implication is, however, an illusion, created by our tendency to start from “past” and “future”, and that “now” is inconsistent in relation to them. If we instead start from “now”, then “past” and “future” are instead paradoxically contradictory answers to the question: what is “now”?
The reason for our tendency to start from “past” and “future” is that these two concepts are unambiguous in this triplet (of “past”, “future” and “now”), and that we have a tendency to choose unambiguity over ambiguity. However, if we instead start from “now”, then we can realize that the two starting points ultimately meet in a point that is the middle of this triplet – appearing for the former as a consistency and for the latter as a paradox. This point is what we call Russell’s paradox. The difference between the two starting points is just that the former doesn’t see this paradox because it is inherently paradoxical, whereas the latter sees the paradox.
This fact means that starting from “past” and “future” is inherently inconsistent, whereas starting from “now” isn’t. This doesn’t mean that starting from “now” is consistent, we can still screw matters up, but just that it isn’t inherently inconsistent.
So, what is the problem with “now”. Why is it inconsistent? Once again, the answer is closer than we might think. The consistency of a certain point in itself and as a “starting point” is inconsistent per definition, since the latter is the middle in the triplet of “the point”, the “starting point” and the “end point”. “The starting point” is actually the logical operation we perform on “the point” to reach the “end point”. The problem with “now” is thus that it includes both a “point” and an operation on this point, and that these two have an inconsistent relation.
The problem for descriptions of reality is thus that starting from “past” and “future” is inherently inconsistent, and that “now” is inherently inconsistent. The best we can do in this respect is thus to start from “now”, because this starting point is the only thing we can find that isn’t inconsistent.
This starting point leads us into modern mathematics, where it itself is derived from set theory, and further into quantum mechanics. It does thus not lead us into a consistent description of reality, but just into a mathematical understanding of how it works. What reality is can we unfortunately never reveal.