What exactly is time?

In the twentieth century there was an intensive devotion to the problem of time under a wide variety of disciplinary conditions.Thus, sociological, historical, scientific and psychological approaches to discussion can be spoken of. In all the discussions, the great ambiguity of the concept of time is revealed. It can be inferred from this that a scientific debate makes sense when the authors define the concept of term and the term they use.

In this article, a philosophical concept of time is discussed, which will also be an instrument of theoretical discourse.

Provisions of the nature of the time were made by numerous philosophers from antiquity to the present, e.g. by Plato, Aristotle, Augustine, Leibniz, Kant or Bergson in different ways and content.In the historical discussion, a dualism prevailed in the conception of time.

A highlight of the discussion on the concept of time can be found in the universal dispute of the Middle Ages.The real object of the universal or realienal dispute was the question of the reality of the terms, these are only nouns or something really existing. So the question is whether time is just a purely conceptual fiction or something that really exists.

On the one hand, the concept of time is linked to the world of experience of people who, under the term time, grasped the form of change or succession of events perceived by the human consciousness.Both formal movements, the change or the succession of events, give the impression of a “direction of time“.On the other hand, an abstract concept of time is pursued. This is linked to the conceptions of eternity and defines a time bound by no preconditions, an existing time.

In physics, especially modern physics and astrophysics, a mathematical concept of time has been incorporated, which deviates extremely from the philosophical conception and colloquial language.The complexity of the concept and phenomenon of time is ideally suited for interdisciplinary approaches.

Not only all physical processes take place in space and time, but also our lives.Hence the close link between the theoretical and empirical moments of the debate.

First of all, for the philosophical discussion, it remains to be noted that the concept of time describes a property of phenomena, a relationship between them or an existing phenomenon.The discussion of the concept of time is closely linked to that of space.

Individual perception of time

By perception we understand the process and the result of the information acquisition and processing of stimuli from the environment and the body interior.Thus, the subjective totality of sensory impressions from environmental stimuli and inner moods of man must be included in the analysis of the perception of time.

Time perception can first be understood as an unconscious and/or conscious and merge partial information into a subjective overall impression.

Unlike terms such as “human”, “tree” or “stone”, time does not dename a concrete object but an abstractity.In literature there is also talk of a concept of reflection. This is intended to avoid the hyposensitization of the two, the two, and the 2029ontologizations.

The word “time” is used for the different time vocabulary we use as ‘past’, ‘present’ and ‘future’; dimensioned or modal time vocabulary.

A second time vocabulary can be distinguished from the dimensioned: the linear one.This is formed from the adjective series “earlier”, “later” , “simultaneous”.

The individual is the subject of concepts of time but it is subject to a constant interaction with the collective.In this dialectic, the conception of time is historicalized in the course of human development as a demonstrable cultural process. It is therefore understandable that the question of time and conceptions of time is becoming increasingly important in the current sociological theory.

– on matters relating to the modernisation of society (Giddens 1984, 1990),

– their growing reflexive performance (Beck 1996) or

– new forms of social organisation (Lash/ Urry 1996; Lash 1998, Castells 2001) and Integration (Robbery 1999),

– in the context of contemporary diagnoses in the context of temporal ideas.

Concepts of time seem to be a manifestation of implicit everyday knowledge. We implicitly know what a long period of time or a short period of time is without definitively describing it or communicating it verbally conclusively.Factors that could influence the individual perception of time aptly under Embodied Knowledge orembodied knowledge.An implied knowledge that is incorporated into human bodies. It is intuitive in the individual and influences the behavior of his body.

Time as a theoretical topic

The topic ‘Time’ has met with different theoretical interest in recent years:

– Time as a perceived and made

– Time and time in the natural sciences and religion

– Social, philosophical and psychic concepts of the time

– Time and history

– physical-astrophysical time concepts.

The need to deal with time has existed since antiquity.”The Roman generals always prevailed; but they never knew on what day!” 鈥?this phrase is said to Voltaire. It highlights the problems of the time that have repeatedly caused controversy and launched calendar reforms into the 20th century. Deficiencies and contradictions in the calendrical representation of the course of time are partly based on astronomical conditions, partly due to human setting, construction and convention.

In world cultures, different conceptions of time developed. In Asia and ancient Egypt, a cyclical understanding of time (the general return of the same) prevails, while a linear understanding of time prevailed in European cultures.Linear means that the times pass by on their own and do not repeat themselves. The cyclical notion of time is about the continuous repetition of events, such as day and night, the change of moon or the change of seasons.

Depending on the circumstances and needs of the community, different forms of timekeeping have been developed.In ecclesiastical contexts, for example, days and periods of time are regulated for centuries by the hourly prayer. It is the official office of the Catholic Church. . It corresponds to the invitation of the Bible “Pray without ceasing!” (1Thess 5:17) and consists of up to seven individual prayer times (hores) that are prayed during a day. This line of tradition goes back to the original community, which adopted the Jewish custom of three-day prayer.

The cherry also uses time measurement in the discipline of penance.Depending on the severity of his sin, the repenting sinner had to repent for a certain period of time. It is interesting that in the 12th century, in relation to purgatory, this time was equated with eternity on the other side: ten days of penance corresponded exactly ten days less in purgatory.

In the 14th and 15th centuries, mystics shaped the image of the “watchmaker God” to illustrate the infinite wisdom of the world creator, the immoved all-mover.Time and eternity merged in the divine clockwork. The title page of the first edition of the german mystic Jakob B枚hm presents a watch dial.


There are various theories that give a definition of space-time.The most famous are the Newtonian, the Einstein and the modern string theory.

Space-time or space-time continuum in relativity denote the union of space and time in an identical four-dimensional structure, in which the spatial and temporal coordinates in transformations into another reference systems can be mixed together.

Time and place were understood before Einstein as separate terms.This terminology reflected people’s everyday experience and is true at everyday speeds – reflected by Newton – but when approaching the speed of light, a qualitative leap takes place. The new quality is that the time and place of an event are interdependent regardless of the physical system under consideration. In the “Heisenberg’s blurring relation” it finds its theoretical expression.

The model of the Lorentz transformations, combines time and place coordinates in the spcial theory of relativity and the Lorentz aether theory.This allows different observers to specify when and where events take place. This is presupposed by uniformly moving observers and coordinates in which force-free particles pass straight welt lines.In the Lorentz transformations, the speed of light remains unchanged.In Parathesis, the constancy of the speed of light was the starting point for the derivation of the Lorentz transformation.

After Brockhaus (Encyclopedia, 19th ed.Keyword “time”) according to Einstein’s special theory of relativity, an “artificial” separation of time from the “comprehensive concept of space-time” into an independent dimension takes place. Here lies the question, is time a characteristic of space and only exists in it or has time outside the adjective terminology of its own categorical meaning.

In the philosophical discussion, the methodology of the concrete abstract can be applied.Namely, the meta-discussion on the question of how does the human consciousness form its conception of time, is there a recognizable objective category or is time a reflection of a property abstracted into the term.

In empiricism, the phenomenon of time appears in connection with the removal of at least two distant things.How much time do I need to get from A to B. The experience first measures the distance after the time epassed to bridge or cancel a distance. For this reason, it was common in the past to speak of away hours, which were designated as footpaths differently than riding or carriage lessons. People determined the distance according to how long it took them to arrive at their destination. In this case, a valid time and distance have coincided.

Work was also designated as a daily work, etc.the development of timekeeping is an independent topic, which is certainly also a contribution to the essence of time. It was only in later times and in the context of industrialization that metric distance indication and precisely measured time inevitably prevailed.

It is interesting in this context that astronomical distances are usually not metric, but as time levies in the form of light-years.The possible light measurement in the cosmos after the double candle effect intends this choice.

The philosophical question is now, distance can only be determined in the existing space or are formed by the distant things only the space.Because it is obvious that without definable phenomena no distance can be determined, but then we would have a space without dimensions without defined distance vectors. It seems to the conclusion that without definable phenomena neither spatial nor temporal dimensions can be determined. The distance is not preformed in space, but it justifies space.

Comparison of Absolute Time (Newton) and Relative Time (Einstein)

For classical mechanics, time is a coordinate in equations that describes the movements of bodies.By defining an absolute time by Newton, all processes can be related to this universal time.The chronological order of the events (topological structure) and the time measure (metric structure) are determined. After that, the simultaneity of events can be decided. For two events, one event at a given time, can only affect future events; an event taking place in the present has lost its influence on the past.

Einstein revised this idea of absolute time in his particular and later with his general theory of relativity.Each time measurement requires the indication of a reference system and is only valid in this. A time measurement from another system moving relative to the first one results in a different result. Time passes at different speeds in conformed reference systems. There is no third reference system in that a time measurement can take place for the uniform moving systems in the sense of a time measurement applicable to both. Then there would be a reference system that represents an absolute time compared to the two. However, since no reference system is excellent in relation to another, the idea of absolute simultaneity must be abandoned. At the same time, two events are only in the same reference system. So each system has its own time.

Is time an abstraction or just a conceptual creation of man.

This discussion is also known as a realienortistic or universal dispute in the history of philosophy.The “basic question” discussed was, time is an abstraction or only a conceptual creation of man. This is connected with the struggle for a theoretical clarification of the question of the nature of time. Is “time” just a noun or is it real. The question about the realities also answers the question of the objective: Is time objective? It has its own existence, independent of things. If time were real and objective, it would be an object independent of us, unaffected and with independent development. Or is the question just a characteristic of things without their own and independent existence of them. Can we imagine a void in which there is no existence except that of time? Or can we only imagine time as a chain of events, i.e. without existences in space there is no time!

In the individual cultural areas, the topic of time was discussed differently, so that a connection between cultural development and the idea of time can be seen.Where in the case it is recognizable that the answer to the question: what is time?, is the conception of time of a culturally bound community. Globalisation and international cultural exchanges are breaking down these borders. In the modern discussion, the conceptions of the times are no longer determined nationally and culturally.

The two decisive poles of the medieval discussion are Aristotle (384-322 BC) and Augustine (354-430 A.D.). For Aristotle, who discusses time as the subject of his “treatises on natural things”, it is closely linked to movement and change: the present is, the past is no more, the future is not yet.Changes occur in time, which is visible through the objective before and after (Physica IV 10).

Augustine, on the other hand, is more interested in theological questions.For him, time is something that man perceives when he observes the apparent change of things. There is therefore no real time for Augustine: God, who is eternal, cannot have created time, for this is not eternal, but its essential characteristic is change. Therefore, time exists only as part of the human perception and way of looking at the world, as part of the human soul. (Confessiones, XI 10,12)

The conflict between Aristotle and Augustine in the question of the existence of time is embedded in the universality dispute and endless debates in which, since the 13th century, the Aristotelian conception has clearly prevailed.It was able to assert the philosophical conception of the connection between space and time in the movement. The concept of time as a consequence of the smallest units of time (atomum, punctum, momentum) turns into the Aristotelian continuum theory. Not the resolution into tiny particles “time atoms”, but time as a continuous flow of time determines the concept of time. (Bernhard Pabst, time from atoms or time as a continuum, 80-102).

The Quantification of Time

The quantification of time is subject to the same methodological problems that we have in abstracting properties or relations.These are abstracted into a terminology that gets the appearance of its own and independent existence. The quantification of time is based on an appropriate measuring system. Time-measuring systems have mapped the rotation of the Earth around its own axis and its movement around the sun. This was done in 360掳 illustration on a disc with the known 12 part scale. Without humans becoming aware of the astrophysical conditions of Earth’s rotation.

The demand for measurability meets the requirements of industrial development and at the same time forms the basis of exact theories.Already in the 15th century, Cusanus designed the program of an ‘experience science’.Cusanus demanded that ‘everything that is measurable be measured be measured’: the odours of liquids, the frequency of the pulse, the weights of metals, the intensity of the sun’s radiation and the humidity of the air.Only in this way could various observers assess a situation independently of their own condition and come to objective, universal statements. Thus the demand for abstractions of the unique conditions of a situation and the comparability of measurement results is made.

The mechanical watch has very vividly quantified time.The mechanical clock has the time divided into uniform sections, in hours, minutes, and seconds by segmenting the circle by means of the hands. They made time processes definable and the same unit of time could be reproduced at any point on earth. By the way: The oldest still functional astronomical wheel clock in the world strikes today in the Marienkirche in Rostock.

The timepiece clock has given time an apparent right-turning direction.Without seeing an inner connection of events, one minute follows the next. The timings are not due to their quality and interpretation, but only by the in-x1ftervall, which lies between them and separates them from .x1finex1fander.

The watch was a methodological prerequisite for quantifying time.The analog dial seduces human thought into interpreting time as a composition of segments at 360掳. The unit of time could thus be presented quantitatively as a segment of the circle.

The invariance of the laws of nature compared to the reversal of time

As a parameter, time in physics is a one-dimensional size, spatially illustrated by a line.The present is a point on this line; from it you can move to the right into the future or to the left into the past. The past and the future differ only by the sign of the time vector.

The equations of motion of classical mechanics and relativity are deterministic and reversible.This allows the kinematic behavior of the bodies to be calculated not only for all futures, but also for past times. Classical physics makes no fundamental distinction between the past and the future. The laws allow both a movement into the future and into the past. A planet could therefore run both forward and backward around the sun.

The basic equation of quantum theory, the Schr枚dinger equation, is also invariant compared to time reversal.Only the measurement process represents an irreversible intervention in the system.

The irreversibility of time in processes of self-organization

Multi-particle systems are described in physics by thermodynamics.According to the second main principle of thermodynamics, all spontaneously occurring multi-particle processes are irreversibly performed because part of the energy is converted into heat. However, the 2nd main rate applies only to systems in balance and to isolated systems that are not supplied with energy.

When open systems are considered that are not isolated from the environment and are prevented from entering the thermodynamic equilibrium by energy supply, new structures can emerge.At ‘Bifurcation Points’, the system can transition to various stable states. Which of the possibilities is realized is determined by tiny asymmetries. As a result, the system loses its deterministic and predictable character. A return to the initial state becomes impossible.

Non-European time presentations

For the ancient Chinese, it was clear that time never covers equal periods of time.Above all, however, the concept of time (si shi) “duration” (si) and “opportunity” (sic) are coined by the meaning of the seasons. JI -“The Cheap”.

According to the Chinese view, there are favorable or unfavorable opportunities that fluctuate rhythmically and alternate.The favorable opportunity (shi ji) arises at a certain moment from a constellation of situational possibilities in flux.

In Europe, an event is usually seen as the result of the actions of a subject.In Chinese culture, on the other hand, it is important to “unite” with the process that has already begun. The possibilities are kept open until the favorable moment has come and become visible in the continuous transformation of things.

The time-assurances in the Indian cultural area are difficult for Europeans to understand.The real meaning of the Vedas is that any time that would consist of the past, present and future is an illusion. So not just linear time, but all time.

Time in Postmodernism

The question of time and time conceptions is becoming increasingly important in the current sociological theory.Whether in questions of the modernization of society (Giddens 1984, 1990), its growing reflexive performance (Beck 1996) or new forms of social organization (Lash/ Urry 1996; Lash 1998, Castells 2001) and Integration (Raub 1999), the context of changed and still changing temporal ideas characterizes most contemporary diagnoses.

Concepts of time are understood here as one of the manifestations of implicit everyday knowledge.They act as a medium of social integration, i.e. they form and support it and are in turn shaped by it (cf. H枚rning 2001: 193-196). The main subject of concepts of time (e.g. collective or individual) and their significance for the subject are subject to a change in the course of the process of civilization. Concepts of time are not value-free cognitive constructs, but possess a normative suggestion and influence the action of the subject.

In summary, the conceptions of time changed in every dimension of human life and went through a change from the exclusively collective to the collective-individual.Their functions have also been expanded and shifted from the collective to the collective-individual level. This created a complex system that combined collective and individual elements. This required the conceptions of time to carry out an additional orientation function. Three other functions were epoch-independent and corresponded to the nature of contemporary ideas (see definition). The sense function coordinated the existing implicit knowledge about time with everyday experiences. The normative function was responsible for the regulation of temporal values, while the communicative function of time conceptions coordinated the actions of the members of society.

The functions of time presentations in the modernized society can be summarized as follows:

Orientation function: Orientation in the complex collective-individual society was made possible and facilitated by the fact that all areas of life were embedded in the institution of time.As a result, they were given a common dimension and were thus able to compare and be coordinated with each other.

Sense function: The unconnected events were embedded in a uniform concept of time and life, which went linearly from the past into the future.This common context has given meaning to events, thus transforming them into a part of implicit knowledge. This function was individually controlled, but could also be controlled by society.

Normative function: This function was responsible for evaluating perceived experiences and future plans based on implicit knowledge about time.It was only through this that the social order could be established, and the institution of time was given a suggestive power and thus the possibility of controlling and regulating this order. The traditional temporal norms of modernity included speed, efficiency, infinitesimal use of time.

Communicative function: Members of a culture use time oracting in time as a well-known communication symbol. Time is not perceived reflexively, but can transmit content. Thus, life and action in time are shaped on the one hand by the conceptions of the times and on the other hand shape them themselves.

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