Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Time?

Sometimes, it is interesting to practice using TOK justifications to advocate a belief that is nigh impossible to properly  justify, given human limitations. What about the shape of time, for example? Does it go in a straight line, or spiral, or a circle or a sphere?   Ok, I realize time is intangible, but I am limited by language, and 'shape' gets close enough. What I really want to know is how do you perceive time?Do you think it is hypothetically possible to skip backwards or forwards within it? Do the future and past exist in tandem with the present? What do you think, and more importantly, why? 

Rachel Dean

14 comments:

James Rogers said...

I believe the tangible time is left in the present and it's own agenda for the future. I believe the past no longer exists, merely it's affects on the present. The future is spawned through the ideas and plans of the present and impossible to travel to, because that's the same as saying every action by everything is already predetermined, therefore the future is a solid or multiple locations.

So to sum it up I believe the past is nonexistent, and the future is too infinite to comprehend, but holds roots in the present.

-James Rogers

Anna said...

Great questions, Rachel! Personally, I view time as a straight line. I believe my strongest justification for 'knowing' this is through authority. Throughout my education, there's never been a year when I haven't constructed a linear timeline for events of a war, or years in a historical figure's life. Because teachers have always put these events in chronological order, I automatically link each date to the next, forming a line. I think it also depends on a person's background and/or spiritual beliefs. For someone who believes in reincarnation, is seems logical that they might perceive time as a circle.
Similar to James, I believe that the past, present, and future are linked, but can't exist at the same moment. I'd justify this claim through self-awareness, as I find it really difficult to wrap my mind around the concepts of other possibilities. Then again, maybe it depends on the person in question, as one's present actions may be the future of someone else, fusing the present and future into one. Hmm, I’m not sure that makes any sense...

Eric Yin-Yang said...

lol, this question made me think of George Orwell's 1984. According to the story, the past is a product of the present; like Anna said about her experiences and learnings, what we are taught as the past is the past we realize. Thus, the past exists differently for everyone, regulated by the system of society and with certain parts enhanced by personal experience. The present is then the most important thing, because it not only determines the past but also the future. The problem is that there is no way of pausing time, so the present is always becoming the past. The future, then, is confusing. It is a product of the present as well, but less so than the past, which can be altered. Human kind can only perceive the future via imagination, yet because future is amorphous and may have multiple branches, we can never actually know what will actually happen. There is no way to change the future in the present because it has not yet existed to be changed... now i'm just all confused. To sum things up, I don't think we will ever manage to time travel because time is not a line. It is more like a blob.

Rachel said...

I think it is like a sphere - time is connected with energy and movement, right? No movement, and time does not pass, because time is a measurement of movement and change. Movement requires energy expenditure. Therefore, if time is characterized by energy expenditure, I think it is constantly and uniformly expanding outward. But perhaps I've taken these connections too far, and slid down the slippery slope, and time is not a sphere at all. I don't know.

Drivebracket said...

I agree with each of you to some extent, because my belief of time encompasses all of that to some extent. I think of time, in its infinite totality, as a spiral. I justify this through 'Authority'. In recent years I have heard of certain astronomical observations that I can sum up as 'red shift' and 'blue shift' in which objects are shifted downward or upward in the spectrum of visible light, indicating that they are moving closer or farther away from us. (This is a rush job explanation, for more information I recommend wikipedia) And when you combine these two astronomical observations, it adds up as proof for the big bang theory, and in addition to that, a theory which I believe in proposes that when the universe eventually stops expanding, it will contract eventually into something so small and dense that it will implode (or something like that, I’m not entirely sure of the specific because its beyond my science and its been a while) and create a new universe. A potentially endless cycle, a spiral following a similar track again and again. In the short term, I agree with eric yin-yang and anna. Time is indeed shaped into one immense weave of cause and effect that can and indeed is also defined by the influences and views of today. James has definitely some deep points and Rachel also has some deep and interesting thoughts.

Rachel said...

Interesting question: why do we think about such abstract things anyway? They are not necessary for a full, healthy, satisfactory life. Although it does make for an interesting class in TOK. Is it an innate drive? After all, there must be some reason we've come up with the system of justification and belief employed in the class.

Kenshin_Himura said...

My personal stance has a very scientific meaning to it.
Time is a fourth dimension. We travel through it in only one direction, unable to go back. Thus it allows it to be beyond a shape, but simply as part of the world around us.
this leads to how this was discovered. Since time cannot be directly detected through our senses (if we had only our senses, but like in Johnny got his gun, he could only tell if time passed based on warmth of the sun) we cannot simply describe it. Language limits what we can actually portray.

AmyLM said...

I read a book recently and I thought that what the author said about the future matched pretty directly with my view of time. He said that we need to stop worrying about the future so much because it doesn't yet exist. This fits in with my idea of time as a linear progression, kind of like what Anna was describing. I believe that our present is greatly influenced by our past and our perception of the future, however, I do not believe that time is something that we can just travel around in.

Rachel, your mention of energy in relation to time is intriguing. Taking a logical approach, if energy can neither be created nor destroyed then all three stages of time cannot exist at once, the energy of the past would be needed to fuel the present and then continue on into the future. If everything already exists then there is a lot of unaccounted for energy in the universe... wait, that sounds like what Dr. Polhemus was saying about dark energy, interesting.

Well to wrap this up, I think our concept of time comes in large part from self knowledge and not from authority. To each his own.

Simone S. said...

Interesting discussion...Ive always thought of time in circles, well sort of a square-ish shape with rounded off corners and tilted at an angle. So as time passes, I can position myself on my "timeline" and feel where I am on the square and incline.
I agree with Amy that each person derives their view of time from their own self knowledge. How else would all our theories of time be so differnet. But I think that to some extent our theories are influenced by the language that we have to describe it and the concepts that we know. Most people mentioned shapes like a sphere or line that are geometric (correct word??). No one mentioned some weird unrecognizable shape. Well, except Eric with his blob theory. But even so, we all know sort of what constitutes a blob. I think that this shows that we construct the basis of abstract ideas from generally recognized concepts. Which brings up the question: How do we come up with our own ideas? Where do these original thoughts come from? Is there such a thing? Hmmmmmm...

Callie said...

This is a really interesting question. I think of time in years or centuries as a straight line. I completely agree with your justification, Anna, it is probably because we make time lines in school so that is how I have been taught to think about time. However, within a year, I picture the months in a circle calendar, and I don't really know why. All I know is that attempting to "picture" time in my head is a really useful thing for me, to take a really abstract concept and try to apply it to the limits of the human mind.

sarah derosier said...

I agree the most with Kenshin_Himura, though all the ideas here are great. I don't really attribute a particular shape to time. I think of time mostly as just forward motion, but not in any particular direction, sort of like the pudding in "Arcadia".
I think we get stuck thinking of it as being linear because of our "landmarks" we have for points of reference. I suppose the concept of time stems from a sort of natural need to organize and categorize. Things we've experienced go in the past. Things we could experience go in the future. The things we're in the middle of are the present. What about people who can't use those same landmarks? People who can't remember the past. I'm thinking mostly of the film "50 First Dates", especially the character Ten Second Tom. Would we even have a concept of time if our memories reset every ten seconds?

B. Wurz said...

I'm going to take a slightly different angle of it and say that time, or some measurements of it, don't exist. Obviously, days, years and such exist because of patterns of the sun. But, seconds, minutes, hours, weeks, decades, centuries and millenia are man made and could be considered irrelevant. Others, like half-days, days, months, and years can be proven to exist via the sun and/or moon.

firefeather said...

I feel like--no matter how hard we try--time will always be moving. Most people have mentioned this. But, i think time is constantly happening. Somewhere, its 1608, 1708, 1808, 1908...and every time we learn about another "point" (think history class) that time is happening somewhere. Maybe not here, probably extremely far away so the two don't screw each other up. I suppose it sounds very surreal, and other-dimention-ish, but thats what i think. And each study of a seperate point builds a "link" so that time is forever tied into and around itself. Maybe I'm crazy, maybe i'm not.

Big Boi PMIL said...

Personally i think that mentally we can skip back and forth in time and percieve events the way we want. Mainly i was was thinking that mentally memories are the perfect example of jumping through time. But i really dont know if it is possible to jump through time in the physical world.