On the Philosophy of Time

More than enough times people will be listening to motivational speakers, and they will say stuff like “every passing moment you will never experience again” or “its not the clock that is ticking away here, it is your life.” While listening to those kinds of things can motivate people to not waste time, it will also cause people to not experience time as well. The famous idea of time always seems to be one of the main pillars of every problem everything has. 

The modern understanding of what ‘time’ is, has led us to believe that all the time we ‘lose’ is time we had to begin with. If one, we to survey a large portion of people about whether or not we could change the future, most would say that the future is not set in stone. The problem with this is that in a way contradicts the current understanding of how time works. The time you will gain or lose does not even exist yet. In other words, how could the future not be set in stone if you had a finite amount of time to begin with? If you did have a finite amount of time, then you would have to de-exist at a specific moment in the future, and there would be nothing you could do to change that. In that sense, the future is set in stone. Thus, we cannot lose time exactly, in order to lose time, you would need to know your own final destination. 

One could argue that death is a final destination. However, do you know the exact moment it will happen? No. It could be in the next two minutes or the next thirty years. In this idea, people lose time in a relative manner. Relative to an unpredictable event. Loss implies and end to something, or so that is how it is perceived. 

Imagine existence without time. Everything would be constant unchanging; nothing could ever do anything. Events rely directly on time. Without the idea of time everything things come to enjoy and seek pleasure would cease to be. All things beautiful, and all things horrifying, must begin to end in order to exist. Trying to hold onto moments, by any means is to try to stop the passage of time. Let’s say a god told you if you took a picture of your girlfriend planting a flower, everything in that picture from that point on would be permanently wiped from existence except the photo of the event itself. Would you still be able to bring yourself to take the picture? No, well why not? People take pictures of beautiful moments to try and capture the moment so that they can return to it again. In that thought experiment you get exactly that. We do not do it because we know there will be more majestic moments like that as well, but the only way that hey will happen if is we do not take the picture. In other words, the moment has to end, we have to experience the moment. This is why the idea of taking photos of beautiful moments is ridiculous. When you take a photo, you are no longer experiencing that moment. So, try not to stop time, live the moment. The purpose of time is to remind us to experience the here and now. 

By N. Monk, The Unofficial Philosopher