Tuesday, November 13, 2012


Examining the nature of Time and Phenomena?  Here is an excellent post by StepVhen over at his blog, BurningTrue.  If you're feeling stuck at all, I'd highly recommend clicking that link and reading through.


by Stephen Stark
Short conversation I had with a student recently. Her questions are in bold:

Is there no such thing as an independent phenomenon? A thing that exists as exactly what it is, as itself,  regardless of any other factors?

  Is there anything safe from the ravages of time?

What about time itself in that case?

  Do you think time exists as a phenomenon? I'm talking here in terms of our personal and social conceptions of time rather than the scientific concept of time which closer resembles the view I'm about to put forward: We speak about it in metaphorical terms as though it were a medium we travel through, or that travels to us. That's a heuristic, a shortcut of thought we make, a leap of faith, that allows us to make use of the concept of time for our everyday lives. Our concept of time allows us to make use the fact that every phenomenon is in a state of flux and change so that we may structure our experience. The ever-changing and fluctuating nature of phenomena is so reliable that we literally set our watches to it . Phenomena are in a constant state of flux. We conceptualise the existence of discrete "states of change" in a linear manner (at times mistakenly projecting causality from one state to the next). We imagine phenomena to exist within time and imagine it as either traveling through time, or time as flowing around/over it. As this happens the phenomenon morphs and changes "as it passes through/with the passing of time". We imagine the phenomenon to be unchanged at a basic essential level however.

Viewing our world in this way makes it seem more concrete as phenomenon remain unchanged overtime at a basic level. Your old toys are still your old toys years later, they're just a bit "time-worn". Your old friends are still your old friends, they've just "changed over time" maybe even "grown up a little".

This isn't the case. Time "itself" does not exist. The concept of time is a useful way of structuring our reality, it allows us to make plans and co-ordinate our activities with others. It also lends a false sense of stability to phenomena. The concept of time does not exist independently from human cognition. In fact when considered the way we have considered it here, the concept of time stands as further proof of the non existence of independent and stable phenomena. This calls the validity of phenomena, the validity of our theories of stability and independence into question also.

So you think there is no such thing as "phenomena"?

Well anyone can see for themselves that there is no such thing as a stable phenomenon; if a phenomenon isn't stable then can it still be considered a phenomenon? We think of and treat phenomena as though they are stable entities when they are not. Phenomena do not exist. Processes exist. What we think of as a "phenomena" is a thin slice of a process taken at a certain point in it's fluctuation. Phenomena are cognitive constructs. Static snapshots of ongoing process. They do not exist  independently of human cognition because nothing is actually static.