May 25, 2014

Understanding Time

Time is a central aspect of Narrative, and Narrative is the primary filter through which we view things, so it makes sense that we speak of Time as if it were actually a phenomenon, part of Nature. But Time does not actually exist.

There seems to be more and more recognition about this in various pockets around academia - among psychologists, narratologists and physicists, for example - but the recent conversations are so specialized and diverse at the moment that perusing abstracts and conference summaries about all the related angles and research sub-topics is a bewildering reading experience, and that's just scratching the surface. Someday, before too many more decades pass by, we will probably see a major work become popularized (among scholars) that will AT LEAST begin to establish the basic fact that Time is not what we might think it is. Lord, haste the day.

There are no parallel universes. I'll bet you infinite dollars. However, if there was such a thing, I'd like to think that my humble offering, below, might have served well in one alternate universe as the helpful beginning of such a groundbreaking popular book. Ah, fantasies... okay, so those kind of alt-uni's do exist, in our minds, but now I really digress.

For what it's worth, here is the beginning of an early draft manuscript for a book project that, I am relatively certain, I will never attempt to complete. This is merely one of the sacrifices that's been demanded of me by my brain and my keyboard, sometime over the past six or nine months. There are a few others. This may need to happen again, soon.

Without further ado, I release here, stillborn, onto the internets, my partial draft of a book about Time.



Understanding Time

Introduction – What is Time?
Chapter One – When Time Began
Chapter Two – Physics and Poetry
Chapter Three – Ideas that are not Things


INTRODUCTION – What is Time?

Time does not exist, except as an idea. Time is not a real thing. Time is a concept. Time is a word we use to compare relative motion, to predict naturally repetitive occurrences, and to anticipate regularized human activity. But time, itself, is only the idea in our heads, drawn from all our methods of accounting for movement and change.

Time does not pass. Things happen and we speak of time having passed. But there was no time any place, no thing that could pass from one place to another. Things changed. Stuff moved around. The sky lit up and went dark and lit up once again. So we say, "Time passed". But time did not pass because time does not exist.

Time is not something we travel through. Land, sea and air travel are possible because physical locations exist perpetually. To travel from China to France is as easy as returning from France back to China because both locations persist in the physical realm. Neighbors can walk back and forth between houses because both houses continue to exist, both perpetually and simultaneously. In contrast, however, no one “travels” from moment to moment. Nobody departs from a location called “five thirty pm” and propels themselves to arrive at a different temporal realm called “five thirty one pm”.

This is why time travel will always remain science fiction alone, which illustrates a very serious point. The reason people will never leave 2014 and “travel” to the year 1814 is because there is no "meta-temporal realm" within which 2014 and 1814 might each be located, as if existing both perpetually and simultaneously. In fact, by definition, 2014 does not exist, and 1814 does not persist. For the year 1814 to be reachable would require it to be locatable, as if it still exists, in some magical place, somehow.

For that matter, even talking about "the year 1814" is a profoundly strange concept, in the first place. What do we know about 1814? For starters, what happened? There was one particular orbit around our Sun during which lots of happenings transpired. People moved around. Stuff changed. Seasons revolved. But that was no different than the cycle before.

Nothing marked the end of "1813" except a conventional technique of our storytelling. There was no "1814". And when the calendar said 1815, there was no new reality, no new "point" at which everyone had arrived. It was not suddenly any new "time". Some labels had changed, some conceptions had changed, and some circumstances had changed, but this was entirely incidental. There was no aspect of reality which, itself, became different. Not on January 1st or any other day.

There is no such thing as time, except in the way we tell stories.

In this physical universe, all we have is motion and change.

But speaking of stories and the universe, how does all this affect our understanding of God?

If God exists, we presume God can act and cause change - to create, to sustain life, to affect history. In other words, we presume God can move. But can God be moved? Can God be changed? Those questions may be unsettling, but the real problem is that they are, frankly, too vague. To rephrase more specifically, we might rather ask – What in God's universe might move, change or affect God? When someone names a power that strong, I'll believe God has changed. I mean, what human being thinks they are mighty enough to be sincerely concerned about altering God? Isn’t it reasonable to admit that what most people fear most is not whether or not they can change God, but whether God might attempt to change them?

I suspect this goes double for anyone in religious authority. To speak of God and yet have control over things must engender some dread about whether God might step in and change the way things get run around here. I suspect that is why those authorities presented us with a timeless, changeless, motionless, immobile God. He exists "outside of time". All that is yet to be has already been done. All is as He prefers. Do not question the men in the big hats who can read books. God wants you to work, give, breed and die - or, in other words, the men in charge want you to be just as changeless as God is.

But what if we don't want to be ruled by those men? And what if we don't want to take over their place, either?

Suppose somebody actually wanted to be ruled by God. Suppose that God wanted to actually rule that person directly. In order for that to actually happen, wouldn't God need to act? To move? To cause change?

The usual authorities tend to answer these questions by explaining that God is "outside time" and yet God "acts within time". But all this does is create a pretend boundary, which on our side remains largely and mercifully God Free. The truth is that a lot of religious authorities want and need to keep God on the other side, “outside time”. We, ourselves, are the ones God expects to do all the things around here. Now, give us your money. It’s time for the sermon.


But what if I could show that none of this is true? And what if I could prove this not by arguing philosophically about the nature of God but by arguing scientifically about the nature of "Time"?

God is neither within time nor beyond time. God cannot be "outside of time" or "inside time". This is not because God cannot do such things. This is because time does not really exist.

Time is not a thing that God should be within it or beyond it.
Time is a perfectly human idea.


CHAPTER ONE - When Time Began

Time is nothing but an idea, a brilliant effort to project order onto chaos. It's actually easy to see how such an effort first started.

The natural world generates so much unpredictable movement and so much unsettling change that people had to come up with reliable ways of anticipating those things, to be ready for something, to respond or prepare, and to act upon things instead of merely being acted upon. To survive and to thrive, humans deduced various methods of accounting for motion and change.

The most basic measurement, as always, as it is still today, was one-to-one correlation. Instead of measuring with a line on a stick, or with dials going around circles, the precise times for things were measured by other actual things.

The fishing was better when the river was at medium height. The dinner was ready when the meat had changed color. The baby would come when a mother's belly was large. The most obvious correlations were the earliest ones to be noted, and valued, as reliable ways to anticipate change and predict future events. It was basic needs that developed this primitive method of “measuring time”.

Some of these notable changes recurred cyclically in nature. Certain animals were best hunted at night. Certain seasons made clouds more likely to rain. Winter thawing brought strong rivers. Falling leaves showed the air would get colder. Dawn or midday might provide extra safety for collecting water or berries, in the rivers and forests. The repetition of all these correlations was the only reassuring consistency in our dealings with nature, and that ongoing repetitive aspect in human anticipating eventually led to a more sophisticated adaptation.

The natural objects of motion that changed position most predictably came from on high. The moon gave us months, and in some places, tides. The sun gave us days, its north or southerliness gave us seasons, which, being repeated, made years. An encouraging factor in all this was the numeric consistency. There were always so many days to a moon, give or take one day, and always so many moons to a year, more or less one moon. And while the seasons fought one another during transition, there were always two extreme times of the year. Things got colder. Things got warmer. The pattern kept on repeating.
While tides rose and fell on the coast in a less symmetrical cycle, there was nevertheless one high tide and one low tide, without fail, every day. There was no concept of “time” until someone sat back and thought about all these things as a concept. In the typical daily subsistence, there was only an awareness of what happened and what helped. These repetitive motions were important because they made some things predictable.

The more consistent the motion, and the more reliable it's predictive correlations, the more comforting it felt for the earliest humans in the midst of their catch-as-catch-can daily fight to survive. In fact, the life saving providential powers of these natural cycles were so comforting that ancient ideas about God were universally tied to these celestial objects in some way or another. Either God was the Cosmos or God created the cosmos, but in either case one inescapable idea was of Creator as giver of life, because his creation sustains us with orderly facets, despite its chaotic aspects. Likewise, as order was most powerfully found in the heavens, so God and his wisdom must also be in the heavens.

Astrology proved unreliable, but its fundamental attractiveness to any primitive people was based on the fascinating combination of constant and variable motions being displayed in the stars. Just like on earth, some things were predictable and other things weren’t. The intrigue began when someone learned how to see long term patterns in planetary motion, which had seemed wildly irregular on a month to month basis. Thus, the superstition arose that perhaps unpredictable behaviors down here were also predictable. It might have seemed obvious that stars and planets did not determine which earthly happenings come to pass in our lives, but the appeal remained powerful as human need remained severe, and that is the key point to remember. In its origins, astrology was nothing more than another human attempt to discern measurable predictability in a world full of motion and change.

We can similar things about other parts of our histories, and see similar things keep on going today. Any time we look with such primitive eyes at the intersection of variable circumstance and human behavior, most things we do seem oriented around getting or keeping control over uncontrollable things. Overall, when you look closely at anyone who's being successful at maintaining an ongoing arrangement, at any level of complexity, one of the most basic aspects is schedule. To maintain control over anything for a decent period of time one must keep careful track of how those things tend move over time. The central issue is always basic need. Even today, if Wal-Mart could manage their shipping and retail empire with astrology they'd have no compunctions against doing so. As it happens, of course, modern methods are more effective at scheduling, workflow, inventory, and so forth. The best method is whatever works.

With that in mind, let's get back to basic methods and primitive people. The first really powerful tool in the whole history of mankind was a mental tool. It was actually a concept. Very, very early into the game, people had to swap out from thinking about change and swap in to thinking about "time", as if time was a thing. If you wanted to control an environment full of change, you needed some way to grapple with time.

That is, early notions of "time" were developed so that people could stop merely comparing endless pairs of particular things (the world's too exhausting on a one-to-one basis), and so people could begin using more systematic methods of accounting for change. In turn, this led to more successful methods for engineering change and/or prohibiting change. These have always been our primary motivations for thinking about "Time". Even when we can’t control all change, it helps that we're at least keeping track.

One early success in advanced temporal accounting was to track the sun's daily motion by shadow length. Your own shadow, if you pay it a lot of attention, can be almost as good as a sundial. Much later on, people invented actual sundials, though the first ones weren’t very precise. Eventually someone discovered these could be most practical when quartered and then subdivided again. Now, quartering was efficient – two halves of two halves, day and night halved again – but each quarter was then trebled. Evidently twelve "hours" was judged to be more workable than eight or sixteen. Twelve also held some appeal because most years had twelve moons, and from twelve lines on the clock we put twelve zodiac signs in the sky. (Seven days of the week appears to be based on the number of visible planets, God’s activity in Genesis notwithstanding, I suppose.)

To appreciate just how abstract and how arbitrary is our system of “time”, let’s linger a while on the development of clocks. Modern folks are so familiar with hours and minutes that we think of these concepts as if they were actual things. Rather, hours and minutes are distinct cultural inventions. First, that initial decision to quarter the sundial is why modern clocks don’t have ten hours, or any other division. Think about this. That shadow moves all the way around that little round dial without caring how many lines anybody had drawn on it. As for minutes, the sundial was never precise enough, which is why minutes didn’t exist until European clockmakers invented that concept during the Renaissance. Once they started using gears to move a bar around that circle, it became easy to add more gears and get another bar that would move around faster. The minute hand is the <my newt> hand, pronounced that way because it was so much smaller. When a third bar was added to cycle even more quickly, they made it even smaller, and so it was the second <my newt> hand, and thus we began measuring "seconds", even though the second hand is the third arm on a clock. Truly, if they hadn’t chosen the word “minute”, we might today keep track of hours and seconds and thirds.

Think about sixty seconds. The number sixty, of course, is a multiple of twelve. All three hands had to go around the same dial and counting multiples was more practical than the other option - which involved fractions. (Be grateful!) Also, sixty is obviously a multiple of ten. By the time of the Renaissance, "five" and "ten" had become bigger concepts than they had been for ancient folks, partly due to an advancing self-centrism (including the number of our digits) and partly due to advances in mathematics. But even if this had developed during the Roman Age (V, X, C?) they could just as easily have decided to standardize clock faces with forty-eight minutes per hour, and forty-eight seconds per minute (12x4). Or, it could have been seventy-two (12x6).

It should begin to seem clear, now, how arbitrary this all is. These "things" we call minutes and seconds are just concepts, nothing more than ideas invented by gear heads, invented and then kept because they proved first to be interesting, and then to be useful. Or perhaps you already knew about most of this? Either way, the important point is that everything about our basic concept of time is based on real experience and observable motion, but the development of "time" and its increments remain nothing more than human ideas.

It doesn’t matter how sophisticated this concept has become or continues to be. Time is not a part of the universe, per se. Time is merely a word that we use as an efficient means of describing how we perceive a whole world (and universe) filled with observable motion and change.

The fact that minutes and seconds didn't exist until technology advanced during the Renaissance should illustrate that our concept of “minutes” is artificial. But although our concept of days and years is based on natural experience, is a “day” any more real? Can anyone hold onto a “year”?

Like Time itself, all these measurable units of "time" are simply ideas people made up.

Let's have some fun with this. Imagine back even earlier - if sundials had become standardized with eight or sixteen lines (instead of twelve) then watch faces today would probably contain eighty or sixty-four minutes. And each of those minutes would contain eighty or sixty-four seconds. Now, bring that back into our time. A timekeeping world based on that sundial might have made which my quarter mile run time sound more (or less) impressive back in High School, it might have made a sit-com last forty (or twenty-four) minutes, and it would have taken four minutes (or two minutes, alternatively), to boil a three minute egg.

In all seriousness, please take note. Timekeeping is not therefore absurd. Timekeeping is therefore arbitrary.

Even better, imagine if someone had invented the decimal system a few thousand years earlier. In such a world, today, physics equations would be easier because an "hour" would contain precisely 100 minutes, which seems logical, even though watchmakers would have developed arthritis more quickly from carving in all those tiny lines. In a world that developed from metric system sundials, you'd never think of taking a fifteen minute break because our clocks wouldn't have been arbitrarily quartered, but a "half-hour" would have been fifty minutes in length, and you could automatically calculate your hourly pay, by the minute, to the penny! That might also give us a lot fewer accountants, but I'll allow you to decide if that's a good or a bad thing.

The point bears repeating. As modern people, we're all so accustomed to these numbers - 12, 24, 60 - that we live day to day without realizing how arbitrary and artificial they are.

Guys get excited when a new sports car goes "zero to sixty" in a certain number of "seconds". But it's all purely random. Except that the next sports car can be measured comparatively to other sports cars. Yours does five point eight? Well mine does five point two! And that's the real point of all measurement. Comparison.

Wondrously, that sports car analogy is no different than the ancient impulse to hunt or fish or gather or plant - because to do any of those things well, it was best to do each thing at a particular time. What modern measurement does is it systematizes the usefulness of one to one correlation, and thus indirect comparison. But measurement began with the earliest of us all.

Moons bring the tide. Winter brings rain, or snow. Each new sports car has to outpace the last. These days, most time-measured correlations are focused on human customs, or human inventions. As ancient people discovered useful reasons to keep track of their "hours" (or at least for sometimes speaking as if they were actually doing so) modern people advanced in their measuring power by using more precise instruments. Without the sundial, we don't get the clock, so we don't get minutes & seconds, so we get less precise physics equations, and perhaps we don't ever get to walk on the moon. But with minutes and seconds, our precise scientific observation of Speed becomes feasible and eventually productive.

Remember, all measurement is comparison. Like the finer concepts in Geometry and Calculus, these precise units of "Time" are just an intellectual construct that makes comparison possible, so that physics equations can be written and so that scientists can give names to observable aspects of natural phenomena.

Scientific description, by the way, is a bonafide literary art. Science actually works quite well with poetry or fiction. Like all fields of knowledge, scientists build narratives. They tell stories about what they think the whole universe is like. Science is right to have literature. Science depends upon literature. What can be surprisingly difficult is to know which is which.

In Physics, words stand for powerful concepts. Velocity. Acceleration. Force. Momentum. These are beautifully descriptive names we've assigned to the general results of countless experimental equations, none of which would have ever been possible without pioneering innovations in human concepts about time. To be sure, the concepts of power and speed were deduced eons ago. But the concepts of Acceleration and Force? When considered as specific phenomena that are both measurable and quantifiable? No. The physical effects are obviously very real but the scientific description is an intellectual construction, not unlike fiction. The most basic terminology in just scientists finding very creative ways to be precisely effective in describing how one thing in motion compares, in some way, to another thing in motion. Your plane flies at Mach One? Well my prototype doubled that, um, a few moments before it disintegrated. It all works, and it's all mathematically beautiful, but it's all built on intensely sophisticated methods of comparing one motion to another. Is Mach one a slow speed? Einstein suggested such labels are relative. He said, "Time is relative." Like velocity itself, for a physicist, time is a contrived system for comparative measurement.

Of course time is relative. All measurement is comparative.

Are we agreed yet? Time does not actually exist. It's a human idea. Minutes are not things which exist, neither now nor before clocks were invented. By the same token, a "day" is not a thing that exists. Days are simply and merely a useful concept for distinguishing our plans and our memories from our present experience. So are years.

So if "time" really doesn't exist, what do we *think* it is?


CHAPTER TWO - Physics and Poetry

Let's begin considering "What is Time?" by first asking, what is Physics? The short answer is, Physics is a complex ideological construction.

To speak more carefully, Physics is absolutely and completely real, but our analysis of it is very largely contrived. And of course that's just fine. This is a bit like how the word "History" refers either to the actual past *or* to a written account in which someone describes the past. By "Physics" we can sometimes refer to the physical world in which planets orbit and spin, in which rivers run, tides rise and hunters hunt, shooting bullets to deadly effect, no matter how we measure (or attempt to describe) such grave power. Also, by "Physics", we can also refer to the social world in which professional professors profess to us about ideas like Newtonian mechanics and Einsteinian relativity and something called "string theory".

Personally, I can't begin to explain anything about string theory but I know it does not mean the universe is actually made up of strings. We all know what strings are: things like shoe strings, guitar strings and banana strings. They are tiny things, to be tied, to be plucked, to be thrown in the trash. But any good Physicist, if pressed, will tell you that something about their conception of the universe has some aspect about it which reminds them in some way of strings. And at that point we're discussing more than phenomena. With the central metaphor of string theory, we're suddenly discussing both phenomena and poetics.

Poetry, like Physics, is another worthwhile example of a complex ideological construction. So is History (in that second sense). So is Political Science. And more. While Chemistry and Physics can at least claim to engage measurable phenomenon, they still wind up producing complex ideological constructions, like the Bohr model of an atom, which is not actually an atom, or like the Periodic table of elements, which fails to demonstrate anything concrete about elements, such as why matter can seem so structurally similar at this well-organized atomic level and yet so wildly differentiated in all of its various physical forms. This is sometimes called the Paradox of Models. In all fields, there is that which is, and then there is our perceptive ability, and then there is our attempt at description. And what do we call creative writers who try to capture the essence of phenomena in mere words? In so many profound ways, all of science depends upon poetry.

Consider the community of Poets, which has rarely considered analyzing their craft scientifically. Despite that, what poets do us attempt to capture with words what ought to be indescribable - what it's actually like to have experiences and emotions that are particularly human. There may be no precise type of accounting for a phenomenon like Walt Whitman or even Emily Dickenson, and yet, in the simplest measurement terms of one-to-one correlation, a listener or reader often finds a particular poem can cause something inside them to resonate powerfully. Thomas Nagel said we don't know what it's like to be a bat, but if a bat screech resonated inside us like a good poem does, then Nagel would have been incorrect. There's just something *that* mysterious about someone else's experience.

I don't know what it's like to be Judy Garland, yet biographers can attempt to explain her life to me so that I might understand Judy Garland. But my capacity for understanding her is probably somewhere on a scale of comprehensibility, that runs from understanding a bat, to understanding a poem, to understanding inertia, to understanding a river. Or the sunrise. Some things we understand by observation and some things we cannot ever surmise. There are good basic answers that explain why water rains from the sky, or why Cleopatra was successful (until Mark Antony failed), and why more people butter their toast than use jelly or jam. But there are other things we probably cannot ever hope to fully explain, like Judy Garland, or interstellar gravitation, or World War II, or why the sky is blue *really*. There will always be aspects of most studies about which we may always be guessing.

So, obviously, there is certainty and then there is guessing. But in terms of practical value for living today, what can be most confusing, or at least most unhelpful, is to get one category confused with the other. Sometimes people sound certain about things where they are at least partly guessing. Other times, people sound uncertain about things which, depending on circumstances, really ought to be pretty discernable. In the hopes of better living on earth - and for more accurate meta-analysis in research - we need to try and identify known-unknowns, while preventing ourselves from replacing those blank spots with false knowledge.

Like biographers, poets and historians, who are non-systematic researchers, chemists and physicists are merely, and ultimately, attempting to describe things that profoundly challenge description. The discovery of DNA wasn't very important until its well written description by Watson & Crick made many more people pay attention, because DNA suddenly seemed like a thing that was possible to understand.

Point: Science without Poetry would be pretty darn useless.

Counter-point: We should never confuse Poetry for Science.

By the nature of their various fields, some researchers get to use a greater proportion of hard data in cooking and serving up the ingredients of their larger considerations, and other researchers have less opportunity to be working from what we might call 'tangible certainties'. Regardless, there is some science in all art and there is some art in all science. We do very well if we learn how to recognize that.

Getting back to the point...

Time, it so happens, is one subject about which people get very confused. Is time a real thing? Or is time invented, like guesswork?

Or is it possible, in some way, that time is both art and science, so to speak? Could it be that Time is both a real phenomenon *and* an intellectual construct, like Physics and History?

A lot of people think so, but I have a different opinion...

CHAPTER THREE - Ideas that are not things.

*****building from earlier section, or deleting it......

or like our standardized system of measurable units called Time. But the field or genre or topic of Poetry is, itself, an innovated construction.

In all the history of language and written communication, what makes a sonnet a poem? Can a soup label be poetry? It all depends whom you ask. But all the prominently received answers to those questions come together in a vast and complicated tradition of all professionals who've ever made their living off "Poetry". Sincerely, now, please note my lack of cynicism about this. I am not saying they're wrong. I'm saying they've taken part in shaping and upholding this enormous intellectual construct of rules and exceptions about what considerations might qualify my paragraph, here, to be labeled as Poetry". Or not.

Likewise, I wouldn't say Economists are necessarily full of hot air - at least, not all the time - but what they're all working on, collectively, is still attempting to become more alchemy-free, so to speak. What I mean is, they can all be dedicated economists who work with noble intentions toward what might yet become even more effective at understanding financial and market behavior, but their whole game remains something they've had to make up as they went along.

And that's fine. But is Economics an actual thing? Or is it *merely* an idea? Is Poetry really a thing, in the way that Gravity and History and Chemistry are really actual phenomena? Economics might be a fair term for a general set of phenomena, if broadly defined. But you cannot pick up a transaction and say, here, this is Economics! More categorically, Poetry is not a real thing at all. It's an abstract idea.

That is, Poetry may be real, and powerful, and lovely, and true... But the term "Poetry" does not describe actual phenomena that can be materially defined and observationally defined. Poetry is a term by which one compares a given experience with that grand collection of all else which people have ever referred to as poetic.

We must note quickly, this is not purely subjective. The biological classification of the Platypus as a mammal, or the definition of a virus as a non-living entity, these established positions are at least somewhat subjective. But defining "Poetry" today now goes far beyond one personal or official opinion on record. Today, to defend something as poetry, there are certain allowable comparisons one may invoke. It's not a science. It's not art, either. That is, writing and reciting and evoking poetry is art, but determining what qualifies as "poetry" is neither science nor art. Actually, it's a lot more like politics, or the US justice system. There's a process of appeal ruled by an elaborate system of conventions. Therefore, my worst limerick qualifies as a poem if and only if I can get some other people to agree that it does.

In other words, Poetry is an idea that isn't also a thing. It's a complex ideological construction. Real, but not actual. What else is like this?

Democracy and Communism are also ideas, and yet never actual things. To illustrate this, look at present day China.

China, today, is not quite as it was fifty years ago, nor as it will yet become, probably. Is China becoming as much democratic as communist? Time will tell. Political Scientists use terms like these to define and refine ways of comparing large scale human government but we know these terms are merely linguistic tools, made as flexible as need be from one era to another. That's partly because the entire field of Political Science is yet another "complex ideological construction". And thus, so are Democracy and Communism.

While the evolving political situation in China requires some description in order to be studied, these terms - like most language, in fact - are only capable of referring to a general collection of previous descriptions. The China of 2014 is not very much like the Athens of Pericles, the Rome of Augustus, or the America of Obama - each of which are wildly different versions of this "thing" we call Democracy. And that's precisely the point. Democracy isn't a thing. It's purely an idea, one used for referencing a complex ideological collection of occasions when politics received this description.

The idea is not a thing, but a way to compare things.

For the ultimate example, consider numerical values. What is "two"? You cannot show me "two". You can only show me two-of-something. It was human experiences of seeing similar things near one another that instigated the need for this concept: two. But the numerical value of two - and perhaps arguably all of mathematics - is nothing but an idea. Two is an abstraction. Numerical value may usefully describe actual things, but numerical value itself is an idea that is not a thing.

But the most relatable example of all probably has to be Love. You've had experiences which were powerful and real and you've poetically referred to them as "love". So love describes actual phenomena, but love cannot be held, seen, measured, or even defined.

We may say "God is Love" but we cannot say "Love is God". ETC...


Time is an idea. Not a thing. Our systems for measuring time, and accounting for past "times", are complex ideological constructions.


C'est fini?

Write the next chapter for me, if you like.

Anon, then...

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