Saturday, February 21, 2015


Time can be a highly abstract topic getting us into some confusing philosophic discussions. And because time is a sort of general condition for all things and processes it has many different meanings and implications.

Let's try to sort out some issues of time:

Past and future do not actually exist. Past is perceived through our memory and it is shown to us in physical things as a vestige or a sort of fossil. The future has not happened yet, it is potential, a scenario, a kind of material fantasy of a situation. We do not live in the past or in the future, we live in the moment, we live our lives through a series of moments. We are always within a moment. The mind can wander into the past or into the future, but reality is the present. This point of view about time can be called 'Presential', it emphasizes the moment, an eternal moment or a line of moments, even a continuous moment.

In the present, both past and future argue for the nature of the next instant. In some processes this resultant direction is determined by conditions and by chance. In Human processes, either personal or social, we have some say in who wins, or more precisely in what specific combination of past and future we think is best for a certain stage of development. With a plan and strategy we can select the future as best we can, understanding that we can do only so much to speed up processes or that we cannot fully retard processes either.

Differentiation favors the new, the future, change, revolution. But undifferentiation says we must combine past and future in the present, that we must stage change, manage developments of the differentiation otherwise the new will cause suffering and breakdown.

A series of moments can be highly chaotic without logical or thematic connection to each other. This throws us off balance and tends to put us in a disconnected state of mind that floats along without focus or framework. This certainly happens often in life and is aided by the nature of today's media. A remedy to the problem is to fix onto the continuities of life: ideals, family, personal goals, community, principles, love, the spiritual and so on. The continuities must be ever present, the moments however come and go with their particular infatuations and concerns.

In this case, Continuity is undifferentiation, the moments are a clearly differentiation of a strong nature.

Spatial diversity refers to differences that are not across time, but are in the same time, they are contemporaneous. So we have two fundamental philosophic forms of diversity: temporal and spatial. Evolution stresses temporal diversity by definition. Tending to spatial diversity leads to caring for what presently exists and accepting things as they are. Focusing on temporal diversity or evolution means to not accept things as they are. From these two kinds of diverse thinking come two kinds of ethics. Those concerned with evolution are struggling to replace some obsolete system or behavior and thus to castigate some social group, rightly or not rightly. Those who are concerned with spatial diversity are concerned with caring for and uniting an entire ‘family’, culture, nation, rightly or wrongly. The two views have differences about the issue of exclusion. But the ethics of spatial and temporal diversity can be harmonized. The widest number of people can be united toward some great evolutionary leap. And those who oppose this leap or who will be made ‘obsolete’ by this leap can be patiently helped and brought into the new world. Each generation tries to make this kind of leap. The ‘good’ evolves, we have an ‘evolutionary good’ that manifests itself in historical stages. We leap as far as we can leap in an epoch, the next generation prepares for the next leap in an endless sequence.

Because of the fundamental power of differentiation and evolution, we grasp that time only goes forward. Each moment is unique, new, creative. We do not go backwards. Because of this time is said to be irreversible. Even in large cycles we will see a direction or arrow of evolution which turns the cycle into a spiral that transcends to some new phase. There is really no reversible return.

There is however a case where time is not irreversible, that time is reversible, and this has to do with Human phenomena. When we build something and we make a mistake or have neglected a step, then we do make a sort of return. Correcting the problem involves going back to a certain stage and starting again. This applies to problems in social institutions, economies, businesses and governments; and applies in personal development, for example issues in psychotherapy where we must return to fix an issue and then adjust all that follows.

So Nature's time is irreversible but Human time is reversible because we have consciousness and a plan.

There is no general time. Each entity living or material evolves along its own timeline, predetermined by its nature and laws. Time for one thing is different for another, and time for one living thing is different for another life form. Thus the speed of the time, the instant for evolutionary leaps, the lifespan of the entity and so on are determined internally not by an external time frame. Further living things will perceive time at different rates.

We often think of time as something general, that there is some universal clock that all things must abide. But this is cultural training and a natural intuition or ego that we automatically fashion.

The cultural aspect is rooted in the notion of a solar day, a calendar, a clock. This time is indeed external to us but it is a mistake to think that this time frames, controls or drives all other things. This time is intrinsic to the sun and the planets, that is all.

Also we have a natural bias to think of time in personal terms, time based upon heartbeat or breathing or rhythms of activity and sleep. This might be a way to count our time, but we cannot apply this to other entities, material or living. This would be egotistical time.

Simultry is the act of taking advantage of individuals or groups of people that are at a lower stage of evolution. This can include rich nations over poor nations; teachers over students; leaders over followers; adults over children etc. Simultry takes the above notion of intrinsic time and tells what might happen if one timeline is allowed to suppress another timeline. Simultry results from the simultaneous timelines being at different stages with the collision resulting in the manipulation of one timeline by another.

Another problem of intrinsic time is more psychological or neurological. A certain amount of time is required to focus on thought or creativity or decisionmaking or even emotion. To dwell on the perception, to learn about it, to manage it we require a certain duration. Another way to say this is the brain and mind have an internal or inherent time requirement. Otherwise, we are moving too fast and the result is poor performance in many of our sub-minds. Modern media and culture tend to obstruct our intrinsic time requirements.

Various parts of the mind see time quite differently. When we meditate time is suspended. When we are in a state of improvisation time becomes a flow. Memory tends to focus on a point in time and stops the progress of time. Reason and logic stress the order of events, the sequence of time. When we think in terms of wholes, there is a whole of time and events are non-linear and connected, though they are not in succession. The senses examine the intrinsic time of the object under examination. Dreams and the subconscious obliterate time. Imagination leaps to a future time. In a state of action we see time as a stream, just as in improvisation. In a state of thought we do not see time as a stream, time is in discrete units to be analyzed. When we are within an emotion, we feel it and follow its course, time marks off the appearance and disappearance of the emotion, time is a span. And further, emotions give us a sense of the speed of time, sometimes faster, sometimes slower. Creativity often sees time as a duration, the creative process takes so much time and cannot be shortened. And it also sees time like emotions in terms of speed – leaps and doldrums. So here we can see the link of creativity with emotions.

When we are internal in orientation we are caught up in intrinsic time, we follow the laws and necessities of our mind and body. When we are external in orientation, we are more influenced by the time of culture and social institutions. When we are in a state of decision-making and wisdom we are disconnected from time, it does not exist. The part of our brain that attempts to guide our sub-minds is an improviser, it sees time as a flow, however, each sub-mind has its own time perception. This can result in a fairly chaotic process of competing notions of time

Please note that the above discussion is using a variety of definitions of time. These are time as:

·        a point/instant in time
·        the present moment
·       a flow
·       a span/duration
·       a stage
·       an order/sequence
·       speed/tempo
·      rhythm/pattern
·      as a subjective experience
·      as intrinsic time
·     or extrinsic time.

And it is this complexity of meaning that causes us so much confusion in understanding time.

In this philosophical thesis we have major concepts such as Subsume, Differentiation, Undifferentiation, Wholes.

Time in a subsume may seem to be stopped or at least moving very slowly. When a subsume begins to break up, it Elaborates. In this state time moves more quickly.

When elaboration passes into full blown Differentiation, time is clearly perceived. We see change and motion. Time is now a predominant factor.

The phenomenon of Undifferentiation involves those elements that bring stability and organization to products of differentiation. One could look at undifferentiation as a way to limit differentiation and structure something. This would mean a deceleration of time but not cessation because that would not be possible. Time will force any configuration to develop or die or be replaced.

A whole is composed of both differentiation and undifferentiation, and therefore it has within it forces that promote time and forces that brake time.

Closely related to time are issues in Evolution. Our understanding of time gives us a general background about the universe we live in. Evolution is a specific manifestation of time, it is about development and stages. One of the unstoppable results of time is non-stop evolution.

The important issues of evolution include:

·       The self growth of individuals. Psychological, emotional, spiritual, moral, philosophical progress.

·       The continual development of social processes. Economics, government, technology and science, globalism etc.

·       The moral evolution of societies. A moral evolution that defines the new forbiddens, so that we can get to transcendent stages of behavior.

·       The value dialectic which stresses the values of truth, the right, the beautiful, progress, skill, understanding, wisdom, creativity and so on. The value dialectic enables us to climb to higher and higher levels.

·       The evolution of the entire Human race. The striving of Humanity from the lower to the higher, for over time we will want to transcend our old selves and enter a new realm of behaviors that leave our obsolete Ex-Nature traits far behind.

·       The Soul becomes an important issue. Spiritual themes of destiny, purpose, immortality arise. Evolution takes us from birth to death, and to make sense of this thread we manufacture a 'soul'. Because we have consciousness and self consciousness we become aware of ourselves. Self awareness, self identity, self criticism leads to a soul.

·       Non-stop development in the world leads to an appreciation of the profound nature of evolution itself, of the cosmos itself

·      Lastly, a recognition of the mysteries of our world, for even though we keep evolving, some things remain out of reach, some things will remain eternal mysteries or receding mysteries, we will never find satisfying answers.

We have avoided here in this piece any difficult discussion as to:

·       whether time is 'real' or not
·      whether it is actually subjective rather than real
·      whether time and space are opposites
·     whether time, space, matter, field, radiation and energy are separate things or one thing,
·      how the big bang created time, was there time before the big bang?
·      and if there is no change or motion, can you say there is time at all – how do you prove that?.......……

·     etc. 

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