Derek Tachiyama

This conversation is closed.

what is time?

i think Time is just a creation of humans in our attempt to bring order to our world. so is time an idea, some thing tangible, or something you can travel through???

Closing Statement from Derek Tachiyama

Thank you for all the comments. So I pretty much reached the conclusion that time has an incredible variety of definitions, none of which are adequately explained using the english language as Frans Kellner said, because you cannot define a word using the word or factors of it. For example, you can't say time is the past or present, because that doesn't say what time is, rather a form of time. sort of like saying a peanut is a type of nut. doesn't really give us a better understanding of a peanut. Also, time is heavily reliant on human perception. I'm not here to play god and tell people what time is. I still don't know. However, I stand by my BELIEF (not truth) that time is the perception of the order of events that take place in our lives. It is an idea, not tangible in any way. You can travel back in time through memories, but the past cannot be changed because it is a perception. The idea of time is our way of trying to bring order to the chaotic world around us. If you would like to continue this discussion with me, you can e-mail me and i will gladly reply to your opinions, I'm very open minded. Just put "time discussion" as the subject header and leave your name at the bottom.

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    Dec 16 2011: Always a good question Mr. Tachiyama.
    I submit that time is a unit of measure.
    Much like inches are a unit of measure for quantifying physical dimensions of a material thing, time is used to quantify what we call change.
    If change is not present in a system there is no need for time in that system.
    If, however, components of a system do not remain exactly constant in all of their attributes then time is a necessary measurement to quantify those excursions from precisely repeated exactness.
    A system that is infinite, eternal and unchangeable has no use for Time.
    Thank you for your question.
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      Dec 16 2011: Yes, time is a unit of measurement. Just like inches. That is exactly my point. Now wouldnt we really be screwed if we ran time like we did units of measurement? The U.S. and everyone who uses the metric system would be making mistakes left and right with the conversion. yet, we can convert the units. So time is not something that truly exists. It is a mere idea that everyone else lives by. Say tomorrow i decided to live by degrees of the sun rather than hours. Then i said hey, meet me at 50 degrees. If you knew my system, you could tell when to meet me. If you didnt, you'd be lost. If the world didn't believe in using the hour, minute, and second it wouldnt exist anymore. you kinda get my drift?
      I think time is used to bring a sense of order and schedule to the chaos of our world. Without the idea of time, we wouldn't know how to communicate when to do things, when things happened, etc. There isn't a good definition for time, because time is forced to define itself.
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        Dec 16 2011: Derek,
        I agree with most of what you've written...and I'm not sure what you're saying with this statement..."If the world didn't believe in using the hour, minute, and second it wouldn't exist anymore". You mean the world wouldn't exist any more? Or time wouldn't exist any more? I believe the world would still exist...we simply wouldn't know what time it is according to the existing human "time program".

        No reply button in the appropriate place..
        I've read quite a bit of Tolle...years ago...I agree...good information:>)
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          Dec 16 2011: Sorry, i was reffering to time. Time as a system of measurement would not exist. Kind of like money, money is worthless paper and ink unless we give it value.
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          Dec 16 2011: Colleen............You must read Tolle like I do. I think he is great.
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          Dec 16 2011: Colleen, this is a reply to your post below to me which begins, "I agree Edward. . ."
          Defining the boundaries separating Now from Past and Future is to me a Gordian Knot.
          That is why I embrace the concept of there being only a Past and a Future. The problem goes away.
          Memory and documentation are the vehicles to the Past. Hope and wonder prepare us for the Future.
          The best my mind can do is imagine what is commonly called the Present to be nothing more than the boundary between Past and Future.
          What would you do if I challenged you to do something in the Present/ Now? No matter what you do I will only be able to perceive it by remembering what you did because by the time the light (vision) of what you did strikes my retinas there will have been some, not much but some, Time elapsed while the light traveled from your location to my eyes. Thus, I can never experience anything in the present, only in the past.
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          Dec 18 2011: This response is to be referred to as EL1.
          Apparently this forum is not designed to serve prolonged conversations.
          Colleen, this is a response to your latest post for me.
          You are evolving the subject onto the slippery slope of SIMULTANIETY, which asks the question; "Can two or more people experience the same NOW?".
          I don't want to talk about that because it hurts my brain :--).
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        Dec 16 2011: Native Americans used moon cycles; stone-age tribes use(d) seasonal weather changes; kindergartners carefully observe the daily routine; first-world countries use the frequency of a Cesium atom; everyone trying to do the same thing. . . measure the passing of Time.
        If we define "exist" as being that which has physical characteristics like mass, density, temperature, length, height, etc. then Time does not exist any more than a meter, or a pound exist.
        Like Julius says (below) there is no Now, or Present. There is only that which has happened and that which is yet to happen. The transition between past and future consumes zero Time.
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          Dec 16 2011: I agree Edward that there are various methods to keep track of time, and many people in less developed countries still use some of the methods you mention.

          Then there is our "internal clock". I haven't used a watch for over 25 years, and generally listen to the internal "time piece" when I'm hungry...sleep when I'm tired...etc:>) I'm retired, so it's a little easier than if I was working in a situation where keeping track of time was a little more important. I can see myself showing up for work when my "internal clock" decided it would be "time"...LOL:>)

          I don't agree with the perception of "there is no now, or present". To me, there is ONLY the present/now. The past "time" is gone by, and the future "time" is not yet a reality. With the information I have at this moment, I believe this moment is the ONLY existing "time".
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          Dec 16 2011: alright, now this brings me to the point where i have to ask-- do you believe time travel is possible? I need to know before I say what im gonna say-
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          Dec 16 2011: Go ahead brave:>)
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          Dec 17 2011: Hi Edward,
          This is in response to your most recent comment to me...sorry I cannot get it any closer!
          I respect your perception of there being only a past and future, and I percieve "now" as the most important moment for me.

          You write..."That is why I embrace the concept of there being only a Past and a Future. The problem goes away".

          What "problem" are you refering to?

          You say..."The best my mind can do is imagine what is commonly called the Present to be nothing more than the boundary between Past and Future".

          I think I understand this perception, and I don't agree. I believe time is a perception, and we may all percieve it differently.

          You say..."What would you do if I challenged you to do something in the Present/ Now? No matter what you do I will only be able to perceive it by remembering what you did because by the time the light (vision) of what you did strikes my retinas there will have been some, not much but some, Time elapsed while the light traveled from your location to my eyes. Thus, I can never experience anything in the present, only in the past".

          I agree with this statement Edward, and I also believe that we each have our own "NOW".
          Of course if you challenged me to do something "now", by the time my action got to you in another location, then it would be YOUR "NOW", or present my perception:>)
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        Dec 16 2011: Hi Derek !

        I do get your drift...!

        Here is a copy of a rather lengthy posting I made recently which might be of interest to you ... or maybe not... doesn't matter !

        from Dec. 02, 2011

        "Just a thought :

        What has always puzzled me, from childhood onwards, is the feeling that the "past" and the "future" are somehow contained in the present moment.

        In my twenties, I discovered writers such as Henri Bergson ( The Perception of Change ) and T.S. Eliot ( Burnt Norton ), to name just two, who confirmed that I was not alone in my view point. In fact, writers such as these challenge our cultural assumptions about time.

        Here is an idea that I have used to express my own views around this topic :

        Just because our language conceptually distinguishes between past / present / future, our reality may be occuring quite differently.

        For example : When does this moment end, and the next one begin ?

        If you cannot find a limit, then the idea of two separate moments is just idea, nothing more !

        The present does not become the past...
        the present becomes the present,
        based on immediate sensory evidence,
        and not simply intuition.

        The present is simultaineously disappearing and appearing.

        The present is not becoming past.
        The future is not becoming present.
        The present is becoming present.

        This moment is a single event, which of course we can divide conceptually with several labels, thereby allowing us to think and communicate... but as with every map we use, it is NOT the territory... as Korzybski noted ! "
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          Dec 16 2011: HA!!! Here you are Denis...stimulating the senses again:>)

          If we are "flowing" with the passage of time, then each moment can concievably be the past, present and future all at once. It is a matter of it not?
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          Dec 16 2011: Denis you are my hero. ahaha!

          Now, im gonna go out on a limb here and tie in the tiny little miniscule amount i know about string theory. That there are strings which vibrate in what 11 12or 20 something dimensions? What if "time" is one of these dimensions, meaning it is something which can be traveled through. So it is ppossible to go back, or forward.

          The other lovely thing about perception is that we past, present, and future can be warped by distance and light itself. To us, the present lightyears away is actually their past. So are we "traveling back in time?"
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          Dec 16 2011: I think that for us past, present and future exist in our minds
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        Dec 16 2011: 'If the world didn't believe in using the hour, minute, and second it wouldnt exist anymore.' - what would not exist? time or the world?

        As with always words 'time' has no intrinsic meaning beyond what we choose to imbue it with. In our framework time constitutes the passage of experience, the gap between the sunrise and sunset etc, but time as a word is simply a means of describing it. If we did not use the word time and used 'potato' for example, the concept would still exist and the sunrise/sunset, earth's turn around the sun would all still take place, we just wouldn't call it time anymore, we'd call it something else.

        To a certain extent the nuances of time can be lost in people's individual perceptions -- but things like ageing are irrefutable as humanity itself is proof that ageing takes place. Ageing takes place over the passage of time and thus the passage of time is demonstrated by ageing and death.
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          Dec 16 2011: aha, yes Colleen brought me to my little grammar problem as well. I was most definitely reffering to the system of time. i hope the world still exists without a time system... or else my argument sort of falls apart.

          So i like what you're saying. So to clarify my arguement into one compact area, I believe time exists, but only, as i use part of your definition, "as the passage of our perception of what we experience using our senses in the 3 dimensions of the Universe we live in."
          The system of time, however, is the product of the human mind. It is like money, ando nly works if we believe it works. People ask. "what time is it?", and they are reffering to the system.

          The fundamental problem with time, is that we must use time itself or properties/qualities of time to define it. Brings me back to the perception bit that Denis was so nice to add. Time is simply a perception, but it is not a system. Time is the word we gave to describe passing, "present", and future event

          Ive been trying for four years now to develop this statement below. If it confuses you, don't worry it confuses me too.
          Time does not truly exist. Time is the result of intelligence attempting to bring order to the chaotic world around them. Rather, it is the result of Life in general. Time is a concept that describe the order of events. Other organisms do not run on "time", but on their natural body cycles and those of the natural world. The natural world gave us the basis for time, as it runs on pretty consistent intervals. It is impossible to imagine there not being time.
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          Dec 16 2011: Derek,
          Mostly, I agree with your last statement. What do you mean by "it is the result of life in general"?

          Since I already said that I "run" on my "natural body cycles" and those of the natural world, I guess I must be one of those "other organisms"!!!...LOL
          (Blessed are they who can laugh at themselves, for they shall never cease to be amused)

          I CAN imagine there not being "time", simply because I do not usually rely on it, nor am I attached to it while living the human experience:>)
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    Dec 22 2011: If there were no sun shining on top of our heads every day how do we know its morning and night how do we know what time is it without a clock?
  • Dec 19 2011: Time is whatever you think it is .
    This 'definition' works for me :
    "the force by which essence takes on form"
    Ed Schulte
    Here is my own attempt :
    Time is the illusion of the mind that translates the unrealised option into the realised choice.
    Time is a function of change.
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    Dec 16 2011: If we see a star we see now here what was there then as we were not here. It is a puzzle but you can imagine the universe as a 3D projection from one point seen from any one point of observation.

    All existence being one eternal moment that generates the refection of a stream of thoughts, one leading to another in an ever changing pattern. In thoughts we can jump back and forth in that stream that we call memory.
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      Dec 16 2011: See, the problem with defining time is that we use time to define itself. But the stream of thoughts is an interesting way to put it.
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    Dec 22 2011: I think time is an illusion.
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    Dec 22 2011: Time is a concept that helps us put things in categories. It helps us bundle the 'past' and move ahead towards what we hope as 'future'.
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    Dec 22 2011: time is movement.
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      Dec 22 2011: Time is change. By movement everything changes in proportian and relation to each other.
      I can't formulate this thought very well in English, words are missing, maybe you can?
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    Dec 22 2011: Time spelled backwards is Emit! I shall demand my next grandson be named Emit!
  • Dec 19 2011: Hi All,

    Here's my shot....

    Time is our perception that events happen sequentially, that the universe as a whole is becoming less and less organized, and that this process is only moving in one direction. (The physicist's roll this up in the phrase "entropy is increasing".)

    Hours, minutes, and seconds are nothing more than units to measure this change. They have nothing to do with the actual phenomenon.

    Best wishes,
  • Dec 19 2011: That thing you have to on.
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    Dec 19 2011: Time to me is dimension..

    dimensions' change do change the medium of conditions.
  • Dec 17 2011: Some seem to be suggesting that, if you can't measure something, it does not exist.
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    Dec 16 2011: Time is only unstoppable thing in this world. Its always ticking with constant speed. It gives life to set our goal within given time frame. The most precious in whole life at any moment. If we understand Time no one can beat us. Wasting of time is like we defy our Life. Success only if we understand value of time. The valuable thing everyone Know and want more..
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    Dec 16 2011: Your last statement makes me think that you define time as 'man's comprehension of the passage of our perception of experience'. Time is a result of one trying to make the chaotic world around them into cogent data. However when you say other organisms do not run on 'time' it is not so much that as the fact that time is a term used to increase understanding and therefore time seeks to understand the organisms not the other way around. Therefore they are not at the mercy of time and thus do not 'run' on time. I find the conclusion that 'time' does not exist is a little blase though. To go back to your titular question time is not a substance, therefore it is not tangible and it is not something we can engage with (or travel through). At best we can travel through the experiences, as the experiences are the data through which the idea of time becomes logical. Time is simply a means of putting rationality into a near inexplicable concept. To claim that time does not truly exist, not only opens this discussion up to definitions of truth and proof but also to what determines existence. Given that we have separated the word 'time' from what it represents for humans when you say 'time' does not truly exist do you mean mankind's attempt to grasp it does not really exist or that the passage of existence is fallacy as well?
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    Dec 16 2011: Hi Derek,
    I agree that time is a construct of the human mind, and although I believe it was created to help bring order, it seems like it often causes chaos in people's lives, because people often think/feel that they don't have enough time. Yes, I believe that if we don't get too attached to time, meaning that we don't allow it to rule our lives, then we can "travel" or move through time.
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      Dec 16 2011: I agree with that. I also think that we can "slow time down". Our bodies run on internal clocks. However, when you have extreeme rushes of adrenaline, or you are really bored, time seems to pass slower. So time is definitely a perception as said above. I think the second definition of time is the system we use to "keep track" of our lives.
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        Dec 16 2011: I think/feel that adrenaline rushes don't actually affect time, but rather our perception of tiime. If time is simply a construct of the human mind, it is ALWAYS a it not?

        Sorry to say...or happy to say...depending on one's perception, I've never been bored. Maybe that's just another symtom of being one of those "other organisms". I'm laughing so much, I just cannot let that one go:>)

        Seriously now...if time seems to be passing slower, yes, I agree that it is simply our perception.
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    Dec 16 2011: time is really a wonderful thing. in fact, the "now" never exists. i like the quote "0 is past, 1 is future;now never exist." then come back to concept of time. i just wonder how the people live before the calender was invented, did they have a "order" life?when the concept of "age" come out?
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      Dec 16 2011: People used to live on cycles of the natural world, on which time is based on. Sun up, Sun down, stars in the sky, weather, etc. however, we needed to develop a system of time, especially when high speed travel was made possible by the steam engine. Time needed to be consistent and accurate everywhere.

      I think the now does exist, but not in the conventional sense. Usually the "now" is what happens at this one very moment. But now can mean several things. "Now" is the time to act, we should go "now". The present can be given different parameters depending on the situation.
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        Dec 17 2011: I agree with your idea about the measure of time has become more accurate. but back to the question, i think the concept of time is more than a method just for record or experiment. time is such a thing that make us to be us.we miss the past, take actions on the present, look forward to the future. time is not something just like "metre" or "ton", time has became life for us. You can't tell "1kg" from the other "1kg", however, the "1 min" when you look at your girlfriend is very different from the others.
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    Dec 16 2011: Time itself? or the perception and subsequent measure of time?

    Time is a dimension we all operate in.

    I can move up, down. I can run left, right or back and forth all in an amount of time.
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      Dec 16 2011: i have to disagree. We perceive our world in 3 dimensions. It's what gives things shape. so up down, left right, front back. that's all directional. What i was trying to get at was what if time itself is a separate dimension? Like, We "move through" time so to speak.

      for the second part to this answer, look at edwards comment above.
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        Dec 16 2011: " We "move through" time so to speak."

        we (operate) through time so to speak
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          Dec 16 2011: Well, i said move through for the reason Denis brought up about perception. We apear to be moving forward in "time:"