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Thread: Movement Gives Meaning to Time

  1. #1 Movement Gives Meaning to Time 
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    Feb 2007
    Movement Gives Meaning to Time

    Long, long ago, I took a course in physics at Oklahoma Agriculture and Mechanical College now called Oklahoma State University. That physics course defined speed to be equal to the distance traversed by an object in a unit of time. For the initiated that is s=d/t. It was assumed that distance and time were more primitive concepts than was motion.

    I live in the mountains and often go hiking. On occasion some motion among all the other fluttering motions going on within my perception halts all activity, my pulse races, chills run down my back, and all my attention is focused upon a particular motion. Later I consciously analyze the situation and discover that that motion was similar to a dangerous motion as defined by my genes. We are hard-wired to respond to motion. I discover every time such an incident occurs that motion is number one and time is not supreme.

    “What we call the domain of time appears to be a conceptual domain that we use for asking certain questions about events through our comparison to other events: where they are “located” relative to other events, how can they be measured relative to other events, and so on. What is literal and inherent about the conceptual domain of time is that it is characterized by the comparison of events.”

    “This does not mean that we do not have an experience of time…What it means is that our real experience of time is dependent, is always relative to our real experience of events. It also means that our experience of time is dependent on or embodied conceptualization of time in terms of events. This is a major point: Experience does not always come prior to conceptualization, because conceptualization is itself embodied. Furthermore, it means that our experience of time is grounded in other experiences, the experience of events.”

    What, if anything, is time ‘in itself’? I suspect no one can answer that question because such a thing, I guess, does not exist. We are able to talk of time only with metaphors.

    Common linguistic expressions: “That’s all behind us now. Let’s put that in back of us now. We’re looking ahead to the future. He has a great future in front of him.”

    A Moving Time Metaphor: “There is a lone, stationary observer facing in a fixed direction. There is an indefinitely long sequence of objects moving past the observer from front to back. The moving objects are conceptualized as having fronts in their direction of motion.”

    How does cognitive science, as constructed by the embodied realists, look at ‘time’?

    Cognitive science examines concepts as they come ready-made from the unconscious. Language expresses our ready-made concept of time and with this the cognitive scientists constructs the mechanisms and the human experiences that have gone into the development of this living concept. I call it a living concept because some experience I have later today might very well modify it somewhat without my conscious awareness.

    As Rumsfeld might say ‘we take the concept we have and not the concept we might wish to have’.

    Events and time: oscillating pendulums mark time—drummers mark time—subatomic particles mark time—time marches forward—time does not march backward—time is continuous and also segmented—time is never alone but is often marked by an event.

    Spatial time: is that central time or GM time?—time is located with reference to the observer, it is behind, in front of, in the present, past or future—there is moving time that comes toward me or away from me—time is never alone but is often marked in spatial terms.

    Time flows like a river. Time stands still and the observer moves. The observer stands still while time moves. There is trouble down the road. What length of time will you be staying? We are coming up to Christmas. We passed the deadline. The days dwindle down to a precious few. The deadline sneaked by me. The future is ahead of us. Put the past behind you. Time is never alone but is often marked by my presence.

    All this time orientation occurs in many languages and occurs widely around the world; these conceptions of time are not arbitrary, but are motivated by “by the most basic of everyday experiences”. Time is conceived with metaphors. We do not speak of time-in-it-self we think of time in metaphor. In many metaphors, time is conceived as a container. “He ran a mile in five minutes”, in locates the event within a metaphorical temporal container, i.e. a bounded region. “The race occurred at 10 A.M.”, locates time at a temporal location.

    Our subjective life is enormous. We have subjective experiences of desire, affection, and achievement. We make subjective judgments about abstract ideas such as importance, difficulty, and morality. Much of what makes up our conceptualization, reasoning, and visualization of these subjective matters “comes from other domains of experience”. These other domains are mostly sensorimotor experiences.

    Within the human unconscious there is a constant copying of the neurological structure of actual experiences onto subjective concepts. In other words, below the conscious radar our unconscious is selecting copies of the neurological structures from real life experiences and placing those copies onto subjective concepts. Our concept of time is an accumulation of the neurological structures of real experiences; thus we have such a varied and sometimes contradictory comprehension of many subjective abstract concepts such as we see with ‘time’.

    Time is a human conceptualization. Is there a literal aspect of time? Yes, time is directional, it is irreversible, time-defining events are regular and iterative. But we can hardly think or speak of time without metaphor. This is the case because we invent the concept of time unconsciously by our experiences as we move through space and time in our daily activities.

    Many of our concepts are just like this concept of time. Our subjective concepts, our abstract concepts, such as value, causality, change, love, nation, patriotism, God or gods, etc. are all human constructions that happen below the conscious radar and exist because our unconscious activity creates them.

    Can you conceptualize ‘time’ without using metaphors? I cannot, it appears that no one can.

    Ideas and quotes from “Philosophy in the Flesh”—Lakoff and Johnson

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  3. #2  
    Forum Masters Degree organic god's Avatar
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    Feb 2008

    everything is mathematical.
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