We talk about mechanical (scientific) time, psychological time (time as our minds perceive it), and physiological time (the time of bodily processes). But are any of these things really Time with a capital T?
Psychological TimeandPhysiological Time
Time seems to fly by when we are enjoying something and it seems to slow down when we are standing in line or at work. We are often startled to see that our mind’s estimate of the current time does not match the clock. We don’t trust out minds to tell us the correct time or even the correct passing of time. We tend to dismiss psychological time as not real.
But, whether time seems to go fast or not, we cannot escape our biological clock. It keeps on ticking to its own time, whether we like it or not. And since physiological time appears to have some one to one connection with mechanical time – we think that is more real than psychological time.
Mechanical (Scientific) Time
As communication and transportation technology grew over the past two centuries, reliable mechanical time became increasingly important to our everyday lives. We rely on our clocks and by extension, our computers and phones to tell us the correct time. We plan our days and our nights by the dictatorship of clock time. It is so much a part of our mental framework that we often confuse clock time with Time itself.
Mechanical or scientific time is clock time. We measure space in yards or meters, but we don’t confuse the measuring stick or other device such as our car’s odometer with the road we are measuring or the houses we pass by. Space is something we think is separate from its measurements. So, why is it that don’t we think more expansively about Time?
What happened to philosophical time?
Philosophical time belongs to a branch of philosophy called metaphysics. Many scientists and secularists believe metaphysics is an illusion or a construct of the brain. Science replaced metaphysics and anyone who challenges that fact is considered anti-scientific. To them, if metaphysics belongs anywhere it should be studied as a psychological disorder.
But is this true? Has science truly and finally replaced metaphysics? Is philosophy dead?
The concept of essence is so fundamental to how we view our individual existence that it not only affects our understanding of how we came into the world and how we will leave it, it also affects how we order and live our lives. How we arrived at this divide requires a look at the historical development of ideas concerning our experience of reality.
Culture is a catch-all word that encompasses a great many categories and ideas about how human beings live. On one level, culture is about what we do every day. For example, if we leave our homes to go to work our culture is about why we go to work, how we go to work, what we wear to work and what we do at work. Our behavior and attitudes towards work are part of our culture.
Another meaning of culture is the art and ideas that a group of people produce. To be cultured, means one is familiar with and understands what is considered the best of one’s culture.
On a more abstract level, culture explains who we are as well as our individual roles in society. A stable culture offers explanations of itself to us that are consistent and understandable. To do this effectively it must answer three fundamental questions about human life:
Who are we? Where did we come from? Where are we going?
An example of a cultural response to these questions is the Baltimore Catechism. It was the text used to teach young Catholics about their faith. As you can see, the first few questions from the very first chapter answers these questions in a clear and straightforward manner:
When I was young, and working at a large company in New York, I had a friend who, like me, was a computer programmer. This was in the early 1980s, when office walls were beige, the floors were a dull linoleum and few people had windows to the outside world. One day he brought a large poster of a rainbow into his office as an experiment. He found that when he had visitors their eyes constantly shifted to the bright, natural colors on the poster. He eventually removed it because people could not look at him when they were talking. It was too distracting for visitors to his office. He believed that office buildings were starving people of natural color and other natural stimuli.