Rethinking Time

Time is something we live by everyday, but what really is time? Can we touch it or see it? No, of course not. We use scales and reference points to get a sense for this notion of time. But, fundamentally, time is the of things changing. Without change, there could be no time.

Buddha famously stated that life is constant change, and I continually to agree more and more.

But, before we look more into time, lets think about existence itself.

Rene Descartes was a 1600 French philosopher and is considered the father of modern western philosophy. Descartes was a radical skeptic and on his pursuit of truth he concluded only one thing that he could be certain of, “I think, therefore I am.”

This was a radical thought, but it left out certainty on the physical world existing.

Enter German philosopher Immanuel Kant. Kant thinks more deeply about the idea of existing and the nature of time. He realized that by saying something exists, you are really saying something exists at a precise point in time. Furthermore, he concluded that if you are existing in time, then there must be some external world that contains the notion of time.

But, how do we perceive time? You might say that we perceive it hours, months, years, and so forth, or in minutes and seconds, or whatever scale you use its really just some interval we choose to denote as “time.”

According to Webster’s dictionary, time is defined as:

“the indefinite continued progress of existence and events in the past, present, and future regarded as a whole.”

Regarded as whole is the point I want to emphasize because this comes back to how we perceive time.

Here is an example. If I ask you want time it is, you might say 12 o’clock. If I say that is wrong and I keep asking you enough times, you might, eventually, say it is “now.” That is the answer I was really looking for. No numbers or quantitative entities.

The real lesson comes though when I keep asking you. You continually answer me that it is now and you are completely right. But, surely there is a difference between your first now response and your last. Likely, inside of you, you are now annoyed and frustrated by me.

But, the “nows” aren’t the same, yet we continually perceive that we are living in the now moment. Our whole life we do this. Every moment, we perceive ourselves to be at the forefront of our existence. Of course, then that disappears and we perceive a new moment as the new forefront of our existence. Were we wrong the first time when we said we were living in the forefront of our existence? Of course not! Were we wrong the second time, or the third or fourth time — no.

We have all heard the idea of living in the present moment but physicist Julian Barbour takes it very literally. He claims that each moment exists in its own right and that time is just simply change between these “now” moments. More can be read here:

http://discovermagazine.com/2008/apr/25-3-theories-that-might-blow-up-the-big-bang

I like to think of this theory by reflecting on TV. Most people have seen something on TV and it seems like the people are moving and speaking in real time. In reality though, TV pictures are moving about 24 frames per second. All the motion we perceive is simply small still frames speed up really quickly.

So what though? Let us say that time truly is just a series of “nows” and it is just an illusion. How does this change any part of my life?

This is where I am stuck and where I hope one of you has more of an insight.

Learning & Experience

What am I but a self? But where did ‘I’ come from? Was I born thinking myself apart from the world, or did I learn it through methods of learning like conditioning and reinforcements?

I do believe there to be sufficient evidence to support the notion that we did learn our idea of self and was not innately born thinking ourselves separate from the world. This was the first major divide.

After all, we know for certain that it takes time for us to learn that objects remain even if they disappear from our field of vision. Understanding that objects exist even when we are not perceiving them is a fundamental part to understanding the world. But yet this too, we learn and is known as object permanence.

But how much have I truly learned about the world? I have learned a lot more about the world than I have experienced firsthand. Think of all the facts that you know about the body, the countries in the world, or the solar system, yet you have never experienced many of those things.

Moreover, there are many things I will never experience, nor do I even have the faculties to experience some things that are just too immense. Understanding the complexities of space in the form of mathematics and language is one thing, but to experience the reality of those equations is and entirely different thing.

So, as you go about your daily routine, think about what you know. Where did it come from? Your experiences? Or other’s words and theories and accounts?

 

Self-Reflections: Day 3

Today is a good day. The past couple of weeks have been good. It is a stark turn around from where I was before. I can’t be sure what the ultimate cause was, and it was likely multiple factors. I know for certain the discontinuation of  the horrid Zyprexa had an influence, as well as the addition of Lamictal which, as of right now, seems to be a step in the right direction.

Regardless of the cause, I am left feeling different. I can’t put my figure on it or boil it down into words, but I feel better. I feel a sense of faith and confidence in myself, even though my outside life really hasn’t changed. I still don’t know what I am going to do once I graduate college here in the next couple of months. I still am grinding through the daily struggles of my course work. I am still experiencing daily stresses and missing my girlfriend — but something is different.

I feel a sense of faith. A faith that you truly believe but cannot put into words, as opposed to my former faith which was all about logic and reason but left a gaping hole in my chest where my intuition was meant to be. I didn’t think I would, but I actually like this feeling better.

If asked about my belief, I really couldn’t describe it, but it is not for other people; it’s just for me. I truly believe in and trust in my views of life and the world and that is something that I have searched high and low for, for years.

I just never thought it would come in the form of nothingness, really. Nothingness in the sense that it is not words, or ideas, philosophies, or material things, it’s just a feeling. But it is also more than a feeling. It is a true and candid belief that the world as we know it is not what it seems and there is more beyond my perception. Whatever that more is I truly do not know, but I know it is out there and I yearn to get closer.