There Is Something Deficient In Our Idea Of Time

Three Levels Of Time

Off hand, I can think of two real world areas of relevance that the synchronic
structure of freedom speaks directly too. One is far removed from normal experience, i.e., quantum effects, and the other is so close to experience that we ignore it most of the time. It is to the latter that I will briefly direct my comments. If
my memory serves me correctly, I believe it was St. Augustine who said, “When I
do not think about time I know exactly what it is, but when I am asked to
describe it, I find that I know nothing about what it is.” Temporality, as most
of us are aware, is a very peculiar phenomenon.

Time may be described on three levels. Theoretical physics (both quantum
mechanics and relativity theory) measures time in its physical aspect, that is,
“the t-coordinate is an undifferentiated continuum, and, if this coordinate is
`taken for real’ as has been the tendency among many scientists and
philosophers, the familiar distinction between past, present and future, so
important in human affairs, comes to be regarded as a mere peculiarity of
consciousness.” [Kenneth G. Denbigh, Three Concepts of Time, 1981, p. 4.] We
also encounter the concept of non-reversible time in the physical sciences. In
thermodynamics and in the biological sciences the arrow of time becomes
unidirectional. According to the second law of thermodynamics energy dissipates
while entropy (disorder) increases. In our consciousness of the everyday
succession of events we also experience a unidirectional arrow of time. We
cannot unsee, unhear, unknow, etc. our experience of the processes of perception
and cognition. So, we might ask, which time is real time? Conceivably there is
something deficient in our idea of time. Now let’s look at time from the
perspective of freedom’s synchronic dimension.


About bwinwnbwi

About me: Marvin Gaye’s song, "What’s Going On" was playing on the jukebox when I went up to the counter and bought another cup of coffee. When I got back, the painting on the wall next to where I was sitting jumped out at me, the same way it had done many times before. On it was written a diatribe on creativity. It was the quote at the bottom, though, that brought me back to this seat time after time. The quote had to do with infinity; it went something like this: Think of yourself as being in that place where infinity comes together in a point; where the infinite past and the infinite future meet, where you are at right now. The quote was attributed to Hermann Hesse, but I didn’t remember reading it in any of the books that I had read by him, so I went out and bought Hesse’s last novel, Magister Ludi. I haven’t found the quote yet, but I haven't tired of looking for it either.
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3 Responses to There Is Something Deficient In Our Idea Of Time

  1. eof737 says:

    Which time is real time? Whichever one we find ourselves operating in,in the NOW! Of course that could also be fabricated. 🙂 Great question.

    • bwinwnbwi says:

      Your comment reminded me of: “Once upon a time, Chuang Tzu dreamed that he was a butterfly, flying about enjoying itself. It did not know that it was Chuang Chou. Suddenly he awoke, and veritably was Chuang Chou again. He did not know whether it was Chuang Chou dreaming that he was a butterfly, or whether it was the butterfly dreaming that it was Chuang Chou. Between Chuang Chou and the butterfly there must be some distinction. This is a case of what is called the transformation of things.”

      Thanks for the comment and all the support! Take care.

  2. bwinwnbwi says:

    Typically, we understand time as a consequence of measurement–revolutions around the sun, vibrations of atoms, decay in terms of biological clocks, etc., however, the source of this measurement is found in self-consciousness—or “time of mind.” My view of time is in the tradition of Gottfried Leibniz and Immanuel Kant. Time, rather than being an objective thing to be measured, is the law behind human consciousness. As an “act of becoming,” our conceptual thought processes have been omitted from the physical universe because we have so far not learned how to express “time of mind” either linguistically or mathematically. “Time of mind” exists in human thought processes and everything else is a secondary effect of this process. The tyranny of time will remain as long as our conceptual thought processes continue to be omitted from the physical universe. It is “time of mind” that is embedded in space-time.

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