Looking for feedback on a couple of Time-related theories

I typed up some thoughts in my Writely.com account without intending to show them to anyone, but now that I have an account here…well, what the hell. I was doing a lot of thinking about Time and the impossibility of indivisible moments, and what that would mean for the nature of objects. Then, however, my Ancient Philosophy class covered the Presocratics’ demonstrations that moments are both necessary and impossible (oi vey!), and now I don’t know what to think.

I created an account with Blogger.com so that the stuff I typed up would be more easily accessed:

Remember, these were intended to be nothing more than journal entries so their intellectual rigor might not be up to par. I hope I’ll be forgiven for grammatical or spelling mistakes.

Basically, what I’d like to see if you take issue with anything you see is an explication of your disagreement and it would be really fantastic if you could refer me to any reading material that might help me get a firmer grasp on your point of view. My goal here is to learn something new.

Thanks in advance for taking time out of your day to read this stuff.

That definition cheated a little by using past tense which would, quite automatically, necessitate a “temporal consideration”.

I’m not convinced that there is such a thing as “time” per se. I think it is quite possible that the universe is infinite concerning things such as time, and so there is no past or present on that scale.

However, we are not infinite ourselves and we don’t get to see the changes the universe undergoes. We don’t know if at some point, the whole thing loops back around on itself. We suppose that what is past is done, and what lies in the future is what will be, but we really don’t “know” that.

Our conception of time, then, would be rather like asking where a line segment starts and stops on a circle provided we were ignorant of the circle.

I’m not sure anyone else speaks about this specifically, but I think Nietzsche comes close with his “eternal reoccurence”.

I see no past tense. “Is” (as in “is regarded”) is a present tense.

It’s “eternal recurrence”, not “eternal reoccurrence”. This is important as, according to this theory, events have never occurred for the first time. They have always been recurring.




Time is told by the passing of things.


The word “passing” is a kind word for rotting, or has rotted.


Rotting is chemical breakdown.


The concept of time helps humans avoid thoughts of decomposition.

Yes, it’s present perfect technically, but I meant it in the sense that it STARTED in the past which implies temporailty.

That’s true. I should have said recurrence, and in fact I thought I did, but apparently my fingers had a different agenda.

Time… [-X

Clocks and Calendars are evil and hold back humanity’s potential for goodness.

Why? Because time is money.

Entropy, however, is unavoidable and completely acceptable. Although not quite understandable.

I see nothing here to object to. In fact, it is, for the most part, exceptionally well-written, I think. I’m not sure what your point is about photography, but realise that this is not a fully-developed thesis. Perhaps you would like to expand here on this thread. Looks kind of interesting.

One caveat - Unless you stipulate a specific definition to the word “moment”, it is a word that is useful because it is vague. I mean, that is usually how it is used - vaguely. That’s fine - we need vague words - all of them are, outside context. “Moments” are nigh on necessary in everyday speech, and impossible to discern in reality due to that very vaguenss. I read this piece as a definition of terms - what we mean by “event” and what we mean by “object”. I assume that this was your intent. But you have given rather precise meanings to these words - the word “moment” is not automatically “compatible” here.

But, you know, I thought that the piece was unusually cogent.

I really appreciate the kind words- I was a little apprehensive about posting because there are a handful of folks (you included) who intimidate the hell out of me. As an undergraduate student with comparatively sparse philosophical training, I was a little worried about how I’d measure up.

I guess you’re correct in assuming that I was dealing with operational definitions of terms like “time” and “object.” I’m really interested in the ubiquity and power of ideology (as discussed by Althusser, specifically), so I guess I was implicitly attacking generally accepted notions of “time” and “object” as being ideologically imposed, with reverberating ideological effect (hence the sections on goal-setting behavior and the cult of the photograph). With that in mind, the entries were more like aporetic cogitations than emphatic assertions.

Ah, “property is an illusion, the stillshot and not the movie”?

I s’pose so. Maybe more like: property as it’s understood commonly is an illusion, so are photographs, etc. But I don’t have a problem with them as such–I guess the point is to become aware of it.

Okay, Brazen. What’s the difference, in your view, between an abstraction and an illusion?

Holy cow, I’m not sure. I guess for the sake of the points I tried to make in the blog, there really wouldn’t be much of a difference at all. The two terms would describe essentially the same thing but with different ‘moods’ or implications.

An abstraction, for example, would imply an idea developed creatively in spite of or in the absence of specific tangible instances - I arrived at this description with some help from dictionary.com - but I’m far too much of an ideodeterminist (I totally just made that up) to think that’s possible. So it could be said I don’t allow for the possibility of true creativity- just a synthesis of available material.

“Illusion” carries the implication of a little bit of awareness of this, as well as some understanding of the false abstraction as a functional aspect of an individual’s subjective experience.

Well, that awareness is only present if you know that it’s an illusion.

What I am getting at is something different, anyway. An abstraction is, in part at least, the opposite of instantiation. It is the extraction of meaning as part of the process of generalisation, or of naming. In that way, every word, as a word, or any symbol is an abstraction. An object itself is not an abstraction, buit calling it an object is an abstraction. It is the function of language.

Isn’t an illusion, or at least the description of an illusion, an error in abstraction? An error, that is, in abstracting?

Let me make sure I understand: would an abstraction be analogous to some kind of atemporal essential characteristic? For example if I have an object constructed for the purpose of being worn on the foot and I call it a shoe, the object is the instantiation and the “shoeness” of it is an abstraction? If I read you correctly and this is what you mean, then I would agree that an illusion is the result of errant abstraction.

I’m not sure how to feel, though, about calling the abstraction incorrect in the first place if all of them are ideologically imposed. I’ll need to think about that a little bit. It’s why I hesitate to call my own characterization of things “correct”–it’s only the one that fits best in the specific ideology of the individual thinker. Althusser pretty much screwed any chance I had of being certain about things for a while.

BB -

I am tempted to say “yes”, but won’t. It is atemporal, but “essential” only in a pragmatic way. Can we call it a reduction? Like cooking the water out of tomato sauce.

That we recognise it as a shoe is an abstraction. It’s a social convention. It’s a “meeting of the minds”. “Social cognition” (don’t call me on this one - I just threw it out there). That’s why I want to back off from the word “essential”. But definitions, if they are good ones, determine the “essential” (important) information. Words are soft, floppy and vague. “Definition” is about what data are excluded. If these excluded data are “accidental” it’s because we’ve collectively decided they are, for whatever purposes are at hand in the usage of a word - which is the “instantiation” of an idea.

I am getting at this - the idea that meaning is “ideologically” imposed. Ideologists have a habit of stating it this way, but I’m not sure if mere social conventions are always translatable (all the way) to ideology, as that word is understood by me. What is “ideological” about folks agreeing that “shoe” describes most, or many, of the coverings that we put on our feet?

I like your use of the term “social convention” here. It encapsulates part of what I was trying to express much more effectively than my own attempts.

My initial reaction:
I think that for me, ideology is synonymous with worldview, paradigm, etc. If a ship sinks and some unfortunate soul’s penny loafer washes ashore on an uncharted island and the local cannibals decide it’s a great tool for tenderizing the meat of captured National Geographic cameramen, the social convention concerning the use of the tool has changed along with the paradigm in which it’s being considered.

Maybe with his last breath one of the cameramen says “A shoe? Are you freaking kidding me?” The natives now know to call it a shoe, but their feet are so calloused and unused to asphalt or cobblestones that the idea of foot protection is completely foreign to them–they’d never think to try sticking their feet in this thing. A “shoe” in this case is a meat tenderizer, and a pretty effective one.

This is why I’m hesitant to use “illusion” in a pejorative sense when talking about abstracting. The shoe is really a specific assortment of material stuff, and any abstraction made about it is going to be informed by the subjective reality of an individual, and on a slightly larger scale the subjective reality of the individual’s ideology.

An abstraction is a constellation (to borrow a little from Benjamin)–a generalization consisting of disparate elements (schematized similarities in form, desire to satisfy certain needs [i.e. foot protection or meat tenderization], functionality, etc.) which when viewed macroscopically adopts a new meaning which is greater than the sum of its parts. Depending on the priorities of the ideology (or paradigm, or worldview), the specificity of the constellation-abstraction will vary but each will make perfect subjective sense.

I get confused when many words with too much ambiguity start getting flung around. So if I could, I would like to just focus on one definition: the “moment”.

Moments are infinitely divisible, so the human brain is incapable of reducing a moment completely. However we can define a moment in non-infinite terms as well, such as:

what happens in a micro-second
what happens in a second
what happens in a minute, hour, day, year, eon, etc.

although a moment that lasts a minute or longer probably is counter-intuitive to what we mean when we use the word “moment”.

OK, let me add one more thing concerning the statement “objects are events”:

I would say this is untrue if we firm up the definitions of each term a little, especially the definition of the term “object”. By this I mean, if we change the definition of “object” as defined by Dictionary.com (just a bit), then the statement is untrue.

Dictionary.com says that an object must be “stable” which allows the introduction of “time” into the definition (since one can’t know if something is stable or not until some amount of time has passed).

I suggest removing the element of time from the definition of the word “object”. Consider the “object” to be in that infintely divisible period (that the human mind is incapable of grasping, as mentioned above) where time “stands still”.

Using this modified definition, “stability” is not a component to “object” any more since no time passes.

Does this modified way of looking at these terms open any doors? What I was trying to do was to separate the terms “object” and “event” so that there was no overlap in the definitions (at least concerning time) with the “event” being “time-based” and the “object” not being “time based”.

I often find that we can confine or confuse our understanding of things if we use inherited definitions.


Brazen - Okay. “Ideology” is usually used in a somewhat different way, but I can certainly go along with your stipulations for present purposes.

Now, I cannot tell if you are confusing the thing with the word, even as you try to separate them. We can, and do, use many different words for “shoe”. Each shoe is an assortment of stuff - okay. We abstract meaning in labelling them “shoes”. I am sure I have used a shoe as a hammer. What I call it at that moment doesn’t seem to mean much to me. Words are “arbitrary” in that sense, and we don’t need an entire paradigm shift to realise that. When my ex-wife threw a plate of linguine at me once, it was a missile. I did get a mouthful of pesto and linguine, but I wouldn’t call it a meal.

I’m not sure what your point is, or how that florid definition of “abstraction” applies. No one is under an illusion - your islanders merely have no use for foot coverings.

Membrain - we sometimes separate “object” from “event” and sometimes we don’t. According to our purpose at any given time (oops!). Sometimes we don’t. Context counts. It’s okay to do that.

Very good discussion!
If in any way my attended input is disturbing please let me know and I will restrain to reading only.

I think we all agree that our references to objects has no influence on the object itself and definitions are for the purpose of communication only.

I would like to take the position that the definition of ‘object’ should not include time, even if that requires a special consideration.
I would think that the definition of an ‘event’ in that case can not include time since it relates to an ‘object’.
In this case what should be included in the definition of ‘objects’ is the ‘momentum’.
As an analogy it is the difference between a dot and a vector. The knife becomes a murder weapon and the mugger becomes a murderer when the knife object reaches a point in three dimensions and has a momentum that the passing of time concludes the outcome.

The only problem seemingly is time. It just don’t stand still.
An other way of thinking would be similar to object oriented programming.
In that case an object would include the physicality of something as well as all plausible events.
In this case time can be included in the description of events with no conflict.

On the issue of time I am on faust’s side. Time can not be considered a dimension since three dimensional space can exist without matter when time would have no meaning.
Time is a property of matter since in every way it relates to changes in matter.

Am I crazy?
One thing about time I can come to any conclusion is:
Can it go any slower? Is there a place in space what moves slower then us?

Hi, raven. One way to look at the difference between ojects and events is that the object is the event “without” time and the event is the object “with” time. That each is merely the same thing measured differently.

How does that square up, as far as it goes, with what you are saying?