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What is Time?

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 2/13/2014 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 568 times Debate No: 45918
Debate Rounds (1)
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What is time? For most people, time is measured by simply looking at a clock. As the little widgets on the device move round and round we can actually see time go by, or at least measured in some degree. Right? But let us be creative for a second. If we were to go outside in the morning, we could see The Sun rising in the east. We could hear the birds singing their morning songs, if we cared to listen. We would gradually feel warmth as this fiery sphere slowly ascended in the morning sky. Now, if we stayed outside long enough, we would notice a change. Subtle at first, but as the observer continues to watch the sky, The Sun moves all the way across the sky and eventually fades away to the west. Leaving the observer a little colder. Also if the observer literally looked at The Sun, they may be a little blinded as a result.

Speaking of blindness, what if the observer where actually blind? If we go back to the beginning of this experiment with a blind observer, who we will name Bob, we can whiteness how time itself starts to deteriorate as we know it. Bob wakes in the morning. He doesn't see a clock, but can hear the tick tock, tick tock across the room. These sounds are still measuring time and he knows it. Now the observer goes outside and what? There is no large bright thing coming up in the east to this individual, but there IS something happening isn't there? That's right! Our observer can FEEL and HEAR! The observer can feel the heat The Sun is emitting and hear the birds chirping. Gradually at first, but as the day goes by, Bob feels the intensity of the heat, and again, gradually it declines and becomes no more. Now that it is getting cold outside, we will let Bob take a break for the rest of the evening.

Now lets meet Jeffery. Jeffery is observer number three and is in far worse condition than Bob. Not only can Jeffery not see, but neither can he hear. Now to run through this once more. Jeffery wakes up in the morning. He does not see or hear the clock on the wall. It's as if it doesn't even exist until he feels his way to the door and brushes against this strange object. Jeffery forgets about it and steps outside into the morning air. There is a slight breeze and a slight warmth coming from the same direction as it does everyday. The heat intensifies for a while and then it gradually becomes more cold. He goes back inside.

Observer number four, named Samantha, wakes in the morning. Or does she? You see, Samantha cannot see. She cannot hear or even feel. Someone takes Samantha outside into the morning air. It's full of noise, light and warmth. All of which Samantha has never experienced. So how can the concept of time exist to her in such a state? Well it's simple. It doesn't.

From these series of observations, we can see time itself go right out the window. How can something exist if there is nothing to bring it into existence? It cannot, therefore time is a creation of OUR existence and OUR conscious mind.


I will be debating that time is not a mental construct, and that it is an inherent property of the universe. I, for one, do not hold a definite stance on this topic, but it is interesting to argue from both sides.

To begin with, it is suggested that time is quantized - in other words, that there is a fundamental unit of time in the universe: "In our newest theoretical models we have learned to predict the energies [of photons ]involved. We find that the times involved are always certain special multiples of the 'Planck time,' the shortest time interval consistent with modern physical theories." What this means is that there is a necessary "unit" of time that exists. This hints that time is not entirely mental.1

But that still leaves the question of how time could be continuous. What causes time to flow? In general, the same principle mentioned above will apply here as well: "When photons travel between galaxies, the result is a quantized structure that we see as quantized redshifts. When photons travel within a single 3-D temporal structure, we see only ordinary 3-D spatial dynamics and continuous flowing time. Believe it or not, it seems that we can have it both ways--the underlying structure of time can be 3-D and quantized, but structures in time can flow continuously." The quantization of time shows how it is necessary to have a continuous, flowing definition of time that is not the result of the mind.1

Further, many of the laws of physics require time to be something more that a mental abstraction: "If laws are outside of time, then they're inexplicable," he said. "If law just simply is, there's no explanation. If we want to understand law " then law must evolve, law must change, law must be subject to time. Law then emerges from time and is subject to time rather than the reverse." What this suggests is that time is a real, continuous thing that is fundamental to the universe, and is not dependent on the existence of a cognizant mind.

In conclusion, because time can be quantized, and by that very nature, flows rather continuously, as well as being necessary for many of the laws in physics, and other sciences as well, to be true, time is not solely a mental construct dependent on the existence of a mind capable of forming such a construct, but is instead a fundamental part of the universe and how it functions.

Debate Round No. 1
1 comment has been posted on this debate.
Posted by stevens6464 3 years ago
Well said Theorist.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by Krazzy_Player 3 years ago
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Total points awarded:02 
Reasons for voting decision: As Pro was the only one who used Sources, I'm awarding points for that. All other areas I guess both sides were pretty good enough.