What Is Time? Essay

3144 words - 13 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 Rene Descartes he would probably say yes. But to ask 'what is time?' is a loaded question because there are actually factors that affect each individual's personal definition of time. I think that the fact that time can be personally defined sort of proves that it really is a shifting concept. There are many factors that affect one's opinion on the concept of time, but I am just going to talk about a few that I found to be quite significant."What is time?"Although time is an elusive hard to define concept, it is still a good topic to converse about because of that exact reason. In Confessions, Augustine asks the big question, 'what is time?'(XI.xiv.17) Through Augustine's reasoning we learn about a the complexities of trying to comprehend the elusive concept of time. Like I mentioned before, Augustine notes that everyone thinks they know what time is until they are asked, and then they cannot explain it. Augustine says that time cannot be explained because it was created by God when he created everything else-time is of the created world(XI.xiv.17). But Augustine still pondered the factors that go into the understanding of time. He talked about the defining elements of time, which are: the past-things passing away, the present-things existing, and the future-things arriving(XI.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,...

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