TED Conversations

Indigo cantor

commander in chief, Satori International

This conversation is closed.

How could we relate to the world around us without the concept of time?

I have often wondered about what life would be like if I could not include the concept of time. It is in EVERYTHING we do, think, talk about, it is a component of life that is completely man made, it seems to me it is the glue that holds everything together? without it... what do we have? how do we explain? where do we stand?
what is NOW?
So, how would you explain " life" without time? the universe without Time? all your thoughts without implementing time?


Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.

  • thumb
    Mar 7 2011: Time is the invention of consciousness. Consciousness requires Time to follow the never-ending changes happening around it and inside it. Every conscious mind - from the germs to the humans - has a sense of time. We the humans, who have highly developed consciousness, have quantified the time giving it units like seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, years, centuries, millenniums. Time is inseparable from change. If there will not be any single change in the universe, including in our consciousness, time will dissolve, meaning, time will be meaningless. Time is the measure for the rate of changes. Time is the mean for consciousness to make order in an otherwise chaotic phenomenal world of changes. There's no such a thing – time as a stand-alone entity. Time is a concept produced by living minds to lay down a common scale to the infinite number & variety of changes occurring around us constantly, by giving them sequential order.

    No time means no change, no evolution. Meaning, it is the ultimate death of the phenomenal universe.
    • thumb
      Mar 7 2011: Yubal: I'm curious as to your response to the question - "why does does it only go forward?"
      • thumb
        Mar 7 2011: When you say it goes forward, you base your argument by watching different processes which move or occur from A to B and then you ask why these processes never occur in reverse. The fact you don't find processes going from B to A, make you to come to the conclusion that time only go forward.

        What I argue is that the reason we don't see processes occurring in reverse is that this is the very nature of the processes. The changes occurring within the process or within the constituents of process make the process moving from A to B and never vice versa. The scale of time we use to measure the timing of the process and it's other features, has nothing to do with the direction of the process. The scale is constant and what's moving is the process itself. Saying scale, I mean to time measuring instrument, suppose a watch. Saying the scale is constant, I mean that the watch pulses in a constant & known rate as designed by its manufacturer and what changes in an unknown manner is the process which is the very reason we are measuring it. Now, consider the watch itself. It is also based on a certain constant change occurring within its mechanism which we agree internationally to take as a standard. But still it (the watch) is nothing but a change.

        I have other imaginary scenario of a different nature to show you how in my opinion we mix between human made subjective scale (time measuring) and the objective reality (processes in nature). If you are not convinced yet, I shall give it.

        But first I want to ask you to try imagining at least one time-measuring of any kind – not necessarily by watch, but by even any arbitrary mean you choose like Sun, Atoms, etc, or even by your own memory or mind -- that any type of change is NOT involved with that time measuring. If you find one time measuring without requiring absolutely any change, I shall be glad to know.
        • Mar 7 2011: Your argument was quite stimulating,

          In regards to this statement- "What I argue is that the reason we don't see processes occurring in reverse is that this is the very nature of the processes."

          why does the directionality have to be the nature of the process rather then the nature of the observer and the system that the observer and process occupy? I think a great deal of emphasis has to be made to the frame of reference in which time is being observed in and how the concept and the day-to-day perception of changing states is embodied within the observer. I think this is the nature of human interpretation of time, or at least the soft-wired idea that we have of time and change. Think of a ball moving across a table- although in your brain the cognitive process simply adds several picture frames temporally, more complicated processes interpret it as a fluid motion with directionality. If that is true, we may simply be extrapolating the directionality of time because of the functional utility it serves in our lives, rather then it being an absolute truth of the universe. What do you think?

          There is nothing so stable as change
          -Bob Dylan
        • thumb
          Mar 7 2011: Thanks for your response Yubal.

          I think I understand your point about change being an essential element of time and that it is quantified by correlating it to some oscillatory event.

          I'm wondering if your statement

          "The fact you don't find processes going from B to A, make you to come to the conclusion that time only go forward."

          is leading to the opinion that at a different location in space/time it might be observed as moving in the other direction (that is the processes would reverse).
        • Mar 7 2011: Has anyone mentioned entropy as a direction of time? Order toward disorder. Drop an egg, it breaks, and all the king's horses...

          It has been offered that what we perceive as disorder is actually the very process of information we need for arranging things in newer forms. Time, order, and disorder. Entropy and information.
        • thumb
          Mar 8 2011: ralph - Is life a counter-entropic process?
        • thumb
          Mar 8 2011: @ Tim

          Yeah it is for the system which is evolving into a life form. But not for the universe as a whole. The entropy of the universe constantly increases.
        • thumb
          Mar 8 2011: Again, taking Yubal's description, in our context we have always observed the entropy constantly increasing, but need that always be the case?
        • thumb
          Mar 8 2011: For the purpose of discussion, let's assume an oscillating universe.

          Starting with a singularity (which must be the point of minimum entropy) the big bang occurs and the universe expands, thus increasing the entropy. At some point the process reverses and we arrive again at a singularity. Between the reversal point and the singularity, doesn't the entropy have to decrease?
        • thumb
          Mar 8 2011: That's a good question. I really can't answer that. If the universe indeed compresses and it is cyclic that would mean it also compresses towards a less entropic state.

          I just know how to describe earth bound entropy. It's really a matter of probability, the only reason why it occurs is because entropic states are a lot more probable. These are states which we concieve as being random.

          So the law is not like causal law of nature. Like gravity for instance, it is based on probability. Things could entropically reverse but it's highly unlikely.
        • Mar 28 2011: I believe most modern quantum physicists, of which Michio Kaku would be probably the foremost proponent, believe entropy is forever increasing (in fact at faster rates through time) and that eventually energy is so distributed that that life would not be able to exist due to the eventual inactivity of all stars within the the galaxy and eventually universe. Dwarf stars, due to their low energy burning rate would probably be the last celestial bodies that would be able to generate energy. It is inevitable that within this system there will be *random* oscillations that promote negative entropy (as some call it syntropy) and so do the potential for star and planet formations, molecular synthesis, and eventually... life. In that sense I do believe that entropy is oscillating within systems of the universe (this is more or less proven) but ultimately increasing. Life is definitely counter-entropic due its ordered nature and composition and even individually we try to go against the entropic surroundings that are often presented to us, in other words we try to control our system in order to keep our highly ordered selves. As far as time and entropy are concerned, I definitely feel as though they must be intimately connected on a very fundamental level (i.e. one creates the other or something similar), but I am having trouble expressing those thoughts in words. I feel like the topic of quantum consciousness is the next logical step in connecting these two topics. Hope this was helpful to someone :)
      • Mar 10 2011: That time goes "forward" is, by the way, is simply a construction of your language. There are others where the future is "backwards".
        • Mar 28 2011: But isn't the construction of our language a parallel to the beliefs of society at large at that point? Do you know where the 'future is backwards' phrase used?
    • Mar 9 2011: Linking time to consciousness and classification seems to take us back to Hume and Berkeley, and finally Kant, proposing the mind as the "a priori" process by which we can know. What is "order"? That which we perceive as "right". "Disorder" would then be perceived as "not right". (I'm not imposing "rightist" or "leftist" here).

      Making things "right" would then be an attempt to alter things as each perceive they ought to be, and that produces increasing disorder. Ideas follow entropy the same as the universe. Add to that Godel's theorem, which tells us that in any consistent axiomatic formulation of number theory(of sufficient complexity) there exists undecidable propositions. The most formalized method of imposing order will also reflect a measure of increasing disorder.

      Which leads me to speculate on some conclusions below. If life is a tendency to combat entropy, it can do so only by enlarging its understanding of all things in relation. If it seeks to maintain its own integrity at the expense of surrounding systems, it contributes ultimately to its own entropy. I think it rather strange that when Shannon developed his mathematical concept of information, it was similar, if not identical, to the earlier mathematical presentation of entropy. If events in "time" are ordered by consciousness, then consciousness must reflect the very disorder of perceptions from diverse sources.
      • thumb
        Mar 11 2011: Interesting. Can you elaborate on the last sentence - "If events in "time" are ordered by consciousness, then consciousness must reflect the very disorder of perceptions from diverse sources."?

      • thumb
        Mar 13 2011: oooooooooooooooooooo !@!!!!!

Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.