Name and Time Ideas
The human need to name and define things and concepts is universal. To do so enables us to react appropriately to what we have defined, that which renders the unknown, and having a working understanding of what we have named and defined enables us to effectively navigate our world to aid our survival.
It has been happening since the beginning of human history. As social beings, everything that humans see and experience must be given a name so that we can identify them and communicate them effectively to others. A general understanding of the concept or idea is thus achieved.
I believe that the same is true of our idea of time. We name it and define it to react appropriately. And having done so, we now have a shared understanding of this particular concept to facilitate communication. The notion of time developed into a convention that made it possible to schedule the daily human activities necessary for survival.
But what exactly is that time? Has our understanding of time changed since humans began? I believe that is true.
We become accustomed to everyone’s idea of time because we are born in a world that already has an agreed upon understanding of it. Our consciousness grows around these widely held and generally defined ideas. But is our understanding of it correct?
Imagine being born into a world where everyone believes that the earth is flat. And there’s no way to prove otherwise. Then all our ideas and actions will be based on this common idea. We will live and die knowing that the world is flat. And maybe it wouldn’t be a problem if we knew the truth or not.
After considering this, could it be that time only exists because we think it does? We’ve named it, measured it, and our daily routine revolves around it. But what if our understanding of time is inaccurate? What if we have defined it the wrong way?
Perhaps like the philosophers of antiquity, we may initially approach this particular concept based on inaccurate assumptions. When people living in ancient times believed that the earth was flat, the consequence was that they could only navigate their ships in a limited way. So, is it possible that our understanding of time has in fact limited us in some ways as well?
How Do We Regard Time?
We must initially admit that our understanding of time is limited by our ability to see it.
This argument is also true of reality in general. Our actions are based on our beliefs about how reality works. But unfortunately, these beliefs are based on our limited perception and understanding of the world around us. For practical purposes, we will try to approach the idea of time given the limitations of the human mind and our senses.
Everything around us changes. And we detect these changes because of the continuity of our consciousness. We can sense time because of the constant flow of changing stimuli. But when the stimulus is constant, doesn’t the time seem to stop? Again, our goal is not to develop an objective conception of time. Instead, we try to explore our perceptions of time.
And I believe that how our minds interpret what we observe may hold the key. Aristotle was perhaps the first to pass on the relationship between change and time. But what if there’s no connection because there’s no time? It was Ernst Mach who argued that time is an abstraction which is solely the result of observed changes. Based on this, I propose an alternative idea. Time is a perceived change.
Awareness of time is made possible by our memory and attention. The mind that functions in a conscious state is able to perceive this visible flow of time because we are constantly feeling the changes taking place around us.
Instead, consider the case of people with amnesia, or those with an inability to form long-term memories, or individuals with dissociative identity disorder. In all of these cases, a person’s awareness of reality is disturbed by faltering memories.
We can feel the totality of an experience because our consciousness creates the complete picture by connecting all stimuli together and interpreting them. Take for example our ideas about music. Music is nothing more than a distinct and varied sequence of auditory stimuli. Yet it is only our awareness that unites these stimuli so that we can identify song patterns
Man and Time
Can animals see time? They look as if they can. But without the analytical thought processes that humans have, animals cannot see them the way we do.
Consider how the dog reacts to a moving car. A dog can see car movements because its senses receive signals that it is changing its position. When the dog chases the car, it appears to be anticipating where the car is going. But maybe he did this because of the unique anatomy of his senses and the inherent programming of his brain to sense movement. But does the dog know the car’s past or can he contemplate the future of the car?
A dog is driven only by the current drive. He will not plan. And it can’t be regretted.
Why was man able to develop this idea of time, but not other creatures? What is the use of understanding time?
Is it to be able to see the cause and effect relationship of our actions so we can learn what is beneficial and what is harmful? But animals can also study cause and effect through conditioning.
The imperative to define time arises from the need for humans to align their actions with those of other individuals so that human interactions and transactions can occur without chaos. People living today have become accustomed to how we perceive and measure the passage of time. The practicality of setting up universal methods for measuring time has evolved since the invention of the sundial. All human activity now revolves around this idea of time.
A Chronicle of Time
We are aware of the events that happened before because of our memories. But what about events that happened before our own existence. We cannot possibly have memories of things that have happened before the birth of our own consciousness. This is where our idea of history comes in. Yet history is nothing more than a record of past events written by those who came before us.
Is history then a valid representation of what we now call the past? And if there is no record of events that have passed, does that mean the past is gone? I cannot help but be reminded of the philosophy of Immaterialism which states that objects exist only when we imagine them in our minds.
But then again, this definition of history and the past are but offshoots of a commonly-held understanding of time. I propose that the past is not about time, but it is rather about change. The past is change remembered. History could therefore be seen as a chronicle of changes that occurred prior to our awareness of them.
What is the future? We have ideas about it because we hope that we will still be alive tomorrow, next month, or even next year. We create mental expectations about what we will do and what will happen next. And these expectations become a cycle that repeats itself.
But because the future is not yet there, all we have is an idea. We cannot say that the future exists because it is just an idea. I reiterate the argument that time is not about time at all. It’s about change. And if time is a perceived change, then I propose that the future is anticipated of change.
Since the dawn of mankind, prophets, prophets and fortune tellers have emerged claiming that they can predict the future. The obsession with the future still exists even today. Businesses want to project revenue. Politicians want to be successful in the upcoming elections. And students hope that they will choose the career that’s right for them. But I believe that wanting to know the future is not about the future itself. It’s about control.
Man’s desire for control is about the certainty of his continued survival. And knowing what the future holds and how to secure it are perhaps man’s greatest and most elusive goals.
The Flow of Time
It would appear that the common notion of time is that of an interconnection of events that occur in sequence. And once these events have happened, we begin to perceive an apparent flow of time. This is made apparent when one prior event affects a subsequent event. The idea of action and reaction comes into play. And this interconnection of events is what we begin to perceive as that movement of time.
But does time cause these events? Or do these events happen independently of time? I propose that events occur without the intervention of time, because as we have attempted to demonstrate, our idea of time may not be accurate. We only perceive the events as they occur 13.
If time is merely an idea formed from our perception of events occurring around us, then it cannot affect these events or cause them since it is merely an idea. It is just a perception that we have named and defined, perhaps even erroneously.
How This Idea of Time Seems to Affect Us?
Because we believe that time exists as it has been defined for us by clocks and calendars, we are able to visualize the past as well as the future. A calendar can show us the months or the years that have gone by and we conclude that this is the past. We look at our watches and see that a particular appointment we have will happen five hours from now, and so we believe that this appointment will occur in the future. These devices ultimately allow us to create a mental picture of time. But again, clocks and calendars are mere inventions that serve as a means to schedule our routines. The hectic pace of modern life necessitates such agreed upon measurements of minutes, hours, days and months.
Let us recall the assertion that the idea of time is made possible because of our ability to remember what has happened and our ability to anticipate what may happen. And it is the continuity of our consciousness that permits the connection of what we remember, what we perceive is happening currently and what we think may happen later. Based on this, we can plainly see that the idea of time is made possible by our ability to perceive the continuity of events. Time can be seen therefore as an intangible abstraction that allows us to make sense of events happening around us.
Yet how does time seem to affect us? My use of the word ‘seem’ will become apparent in the succeeding illustrations.
One undeniable aspect of human existence is emotion. Let us consider sadness. We can say that a person experiences sadness because of loss. But this loss once it happens becomes an event that has already occurred. And because we remember the sad event, the sadness appears to persist.
Now consider fear. Fear exists because of a perceived present threat 14. Fear is useful because it aids us in survival in order that we may avoid imminent harm. Anxiety and fear are related but not quite the same. Anxiety is characterized by worrying about an anticipated harmful event that may or may not happen.
Sadness and anxiety appear to be products of our perception of time. Sadness can be said to be a product of a past event, while anxiety is the distressful anticipation of a possible future event. It can be argued therefore that sadness and anxiety exist because of our common notion of past and future.
But imagine a situation in which a person can choose not to dwell on a past loss and also not think about the likelihood of a future harmful event. If that person were to focus only on what is presently happening, then is it conceivable that he will no longer succumb to sadness or anxiety?
Let us consider guilt. This is a state of mind that if left unchecked can cause a person to become dysfunctional. Guilt is a product of regret. And regret is the act of blaming yourself for a past mistake. But I believe that if an individual can let go of the significance of such regrettable memories, then perhaps he would no longer be affected by such guilt.
I wish to argue that many of the distressful experiences that people face arise out of this idea of past and future. People sometimes become prisoners of their past. People can also become too afraid of the future. In both cases, judgment and decision making are adversely affected, which may lead people to make more problematic choices.
The Modern World and Time
The fast pace of modern civilization has been placing more and more importance to the value of this notion of time. Schedules, meetings, deadlines and such create this sense that there is so little time to do everything. This is why the concept of time management arose.
Business, commerce, industry and the internet 바카라 사이트 revolve around the idea of this time. All transactions are based on how we have defined and measured time using accepted conventions.
But imagine an era that had a more primitive way of life. Consider the period when there was no electricity and people’s professions were far simpler and less diverse. Could we say that the pace of life was slower then?
Is it safe to claim that life may have been less stressful during those periods? And has our present idea of time made life more stressful now? Based upon this, I would like to make the assertion that many of the problems that people face today are products of how we view time.
Is Time an Illusion?
Philosophers and even scientists have argued that time could very well be an illusion.
To state that time does exist is to assert that there is a distinction between past, present and future. But when the future comes isn’t it just a new present? And isn’t the past just a memory of a former present?
As we have thus far mentioned, we are able to perceive the flow of time because of the continuity of our consciousness. But even one’s consciousness can change. And depending on say our state of wakefulness or alertness, our perception of time will also vary.
Is it then possible that two people will perceive time differently? The answer is yes, because of the fluctuating states of consciousness that people have.
If we accept this new idea that time is change perceived, then it is how we perceive these changes that varies depending upon our state of wakefulness or consciousness.
Let me end by stating a paradox. That for me, it took time to realize that time does not exist.