"What Is Time?" Essay

3778 words - 16 pages

Loni Walker 12/5/2013 TPHIL358The Illusion of the Concept of TimeIntroductionTime... "What then is time? If no one asks me about it, I know; but if someone asks me to explain it, I don't know."(XI.xiv.17) Yeah, what exactly is time? 'Time' can be classified as an elusive concept that is actually really rather hard to explain. Time is an ever shifting and changing concept. The definition of time has been explored throughout history and has not come to a hundred percent true conclusion. And yet even in our own lives it is apparent that the perception of time has changed throughout history. So, is there a true definition of time or is it something that we must define for ourselves? If you asked ...view middle of the document...

xx.26). If time is defined by things arriving, remaining for a moment, and then passing away, then time seems to be unreal, or in other words non-existent. "Indeed we cannot truly say that time exists except in the sense that it tends towards non-existence."(XI.xiv.17) So neither past nor future actually exist. To further understand time, Augustine divides it into years, months, days, and so on only to eventually come to the conclusion that even the present itself cannot truly exist. The present occupies no space, but it also has no duration. Any duration would immediately become past and future-which do no exist-thus when we look for time we find it to have no real existence(XI.XV.19,20). But Augustine does realize that we can measure time as it 'passes' through the present moment(XI.xvi.21). But how? Well, Augustine dismissed the astronomical idea that we can measure time in the movement of the 'heavenly bodies', and says that they are not definitive of time(XI.xxiii.29). For example, there are twenty-four hours in a day, right? But wouldn't those hours would still pass even if there was no sun? Of course they would. So maybe this still cannot bring us to a cohesive understanding of time. Augustine goes on to be more perplexed by the Plotinus belief that time seems to be a "stretching out of life; the life of the soul in a movement of passage from one way of life to another"(XI.xxvi.33,footnote27) in other words, distention-'time is simply a distention.'(XI.xxvi.33) He explains that the soul should be abiding by the eternal present (since no other time truly exists)-it spreads out into temporality, into a succession of events. So in this sense, time belongs to the mind and soul because we measure time inherently with our memory. In our memories is where we remember the past, which our memory is stored in our mind, which is also part of the soul. Man exists in a temporary sense, whereas God exists in eternity, where time is immeasurable. But even after much thought, Augustine admits that, "scattered in times whose order I do not understand."(XI.xxix.39) Augustine comes to the conclusion that time really cannot be defined because it is an ever changing concept, so he can only trust in God for his stability(XI.xxx.40).Looking into other philosophers like Plato and Aristotle we find the dualistic approach. "Plato has explained time as a 'moving image of eternity' and Aristotle suggested that 'time is the number of motion with respect to earlier and later. The Aristotelian idea of time unites two different pictures of time, the dynamic and the static views."(5) Dynamic time involves motion-changes/the flow of time-in regards to past, present, and future. Dynamic time is time seen 'from the inside' and carries the idea that the 'now is real and objective'. Static time is considered a 'stationary order of events'-in regards to the terms before/after/with. So in this sense static time is seen 'from the outside', which could be said to be the 'God's eye...

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