The Question of Time: An Illusion, a Delusion, a Magical Order or All of the Above
When I’ve asked people the question, “what are clocks designed to do?”, I get all sorts of interesting replies What I’ve found out is that time is an extremely confused subject in the Western world. As I develop this story I will reveal the answer, but why don’t you ask yourself what you think time is and what it is that clocks are designed to do.
The obvious answer might be that clocks tell time. Clocks don’t tell time per se, rather they measure an aspect of our world. For now let’s just say that time is an abstract term for a very common phenomena that most of us take for granted. Einstein was the first to say that time is the 4th dimension, an even more abstract concept and one of his few miscalculations.
I’ve read books on the Western notion of time and it seems that even the experts can’t agree as to what time is.
Here are some official definitions of time.
Websters defines Time as….
1a : the measured or measurable period during which an action, process, or condition exists or continues: duration
b : a nonspatial continuum that is measured in terms of events which succeed one another from past through present to future
2: the point or period when something occurs
Time is a part of the measuring system used to sequence events, to compare the durations of events and the intervals between them, and to quantify rates of change such as the motions of objects. The temporal position of events with respect to the transitory present is continually changing; future events become present, then pass further and further into the past.
Time has been a major subject of religion, philosophy, and science, but defining it in a non-controversial manner applicable to all fields of study has consistently eluded the greatest scholars.
Time is used to define other quantities — such as velocity — so defining time in terms of such quantities would result in circularity of definition. An operational definition of time, wherein one says that observing a certain number of repetitions of one or another standard cyclical events (such as the passage of a free-swinging pendulum) constitutes one standard unit such as the second, is highly useful in the conduct of both advanced experiments and everyday affairs of life.
The operational definition leaves aside the question whether there is something called time, apart from the counting activity just mentioned, that flows and that can be measured. Investigations of a single continuum called spacetime bring questions about space into questions about time, questions that have their roots in the works of early students of natural philosophy.
Two contrasting viewpoints on time divide many prominent philosophers. One view is that time is part of the fundamental structure of the universe, a dimension in which events occur in sequence. Sir Isaac Newton subscribed to this realist view, and hence it is sometimes referred to as Newtonian time. Time travel, in this view, becomes a possibility as other “times” persist like frames of a film strip, spread out across the time line.
The opposing view is that time does not refer to any kind of “container” that events and objects “move through”, nor to any entity that “flows”, but that it is instead part of a fundamental intellectual structure (together with space and number) within which humans sequence and compare events. This second view, in the tradition of Gottfried Leibniz and Immanuel Kant, holds that time is neither an event nor a thing, and thus is not itself measurable nor can it be traveled.
No wonder time is confusing. The above definitions while useful don’t actually define time as a thing as the philosophers Gottfried Leibniz and Immanuel Kant concur. Time it seems is more of an intellectual construct. A construct we use to measure aspects of our world and not a thing in and of itself.
Mainstream science is finally coming around to the Leibniz and Kant conclusion as recently evidenced by the
article “Scientists suggest Space-time has no time dimension”.
Scientists propose that clocks measure the numerical order of material change in space, where space is a fundamental entity; time itself is not a fundamental physical entity.
Some researchers theorize that Newtonian ideas of time as an absolute quantity that flows on its own, along with the idea that time is the fourth dimension of spacetime, are incorrect. They propose to replace these concepts of time with a view that corresponds more accurately to the physical world: time as a measure of the numerical order of change.
“Time as the numerical order of change” now we are getting somewhere, but I think it can be simplified even further.
TRACKING DOWN TIME
Those of you familiar with my work on Meso-American Calendrics might consider me an expert on the question of time. Calendars measure and keep track of time by counting days, weeks, months, years, decades and so on. Before the advent of micro-time keeping devices such as sundials, hourglasses and clocks the most basic whole unit of time was a day-night cycle. We might surmise that time is related to the day-night cycle, but what is a day-night cycle?
STOP DON’T MOVE ! Impossible I say !
A day-night cycle is how we experience the earth’s axial rotation as it orbits the sun. And what is rotation? Rotation is a type of movement. Therein lies the answer to the question of what clocks do. Clocks are designed to keep pace with the earth’s rotation and rotation is a type of movement. We may therefore conclude that time is the equivalent of movement.
Now… how does my conclusion square with “time as the numerical order of change”. We can drop the ‘numerical order” part because those are the labels we affix to the increments of change in order to measure and classify change.
I CAN’T CHANGE! If you can move you can change.
So what is change? The dictionary defines change as “to make or become different”. But how does something become different? Something changes because some aspect of the thing in questions has moved. Movement in the chemicals of a leaf leads to color change, and when you’ve “changed” your hair it’s because someone moved a pair of scissors through it. Everything is constantly moving relative to everything else, and that is what gives us change. In an absolutely frozen universe, nothing would move. Time would stand still since we can only measure time in relation to things moving relative to one another.
Therefore time as an entity in an of itself is the equivalent of movement. Time is a convenient term because of all the connotations and implications inherent in the layman concept of time. It is much easier to say, “what time is it?”, than to say, “how much has the earth moved since the sun came up”.
NO TIME FOR TIME
Native Americans inclusive of the Maya did not have a word for time and some have suggested that the Mayan word closest in meaning to our idea of time is their word for movement.
MAC views the creation of world and universe at large as the interplay between two fundamental principles—movement and measure.
Measure, according to MAC cosmology, may be understood as the phenomenal world defined in terms of colors, forms and cyclicality. Cyclicality may be defined as recurring sequences of time characterized by specific qualities. A sequence of time within MAC cosmology starts with a day-night cycle, but identifies many other patterned sequences each with its specific number of days.
Now contrast the Mesoamerican view of the cosmos with that of the Western view. In the West we begin to define the overriding or foundational features of the universe as having 3 dimensions of space known as width, depth and height.
We can say that Western cosmology is object and quantitatively focused, while MAC cosmology is qualitative and process focused. The difference in focus is verified by a linguistic analysis that finds European languages are structured around an emphasis on nouns or objects whereas Native American languages are structured around an emphasis on verbs or the process of objects.
Western science has gone on to develop material science to astonishing heights and depths while the process focused mind of the ancient Mesoamerican went on to discover the qualitative and quantitative structure of time itself. That is the very structure and order of change as movement. A discovery that I consider is the greatest natural history discovery of all time!
The implication of structured change as a fundamental cosmic order means that change as movement is predetermined. And that means that the change we experience in our lives is not random, ruled by chance or accidental, but rather follows a specific and patterned process as defined by the Tzolkin calendar code.
In an infinitely ordered cosmos, everything is infinitely interrelated and therefore infinitely synchronized, since everything moves as a singular whole. A whole whose entire movements are interrelated by a knowable set of rules. Those rules are encoded in the Tzolkin calendar, they were amplified by Dr. Jose Arguelles, and they are now articulated and empirically validated by Tzolkin Cosmology.