In part 1 we analyzed the ethical or practical take on time of the Stoic philosopher Seneca. He characterized it as the only possession man can have. Time appeared to be the place of the dispersal of human life. But what is time? Do we perceive it passively as something external?
The most profound things are the most common – they make us wonder when we stop receiving them and attempt to perceive. Time is one of them. Everyday life greatly depends on a notion of time and its application. The notion comes from everyday experience, but it should be refined in order be able to contemplate over profound questions.
We will examine in the article how Augustine reconstructs the way the concept of time appeared out of human experience. One can say that eventually he does not give a definition of time, yet, as we believe, he intimates what that is, and also shows the activity of consciousness with its three acts in the construction with the prominent role of memory as that which makes time extended.
Augustine: Extension of the Mind
Phenomenal consciousness does not know that in everyday activity it operates within the universal called ‘time.’ Time appears to it as an object (an image of a line where the point of the present is ever moving further). It takes the division into the past, present, and future for granted, as if it discovered it by chance. However, the negative point that has ever disappearing moments in itself is a universal, that is, the now. Consciousness needs to give the now an extension to speak comprehensively about it. When the extension is provided, where and by which time will be measured if it proved itself to be, in experience, only a disappearing point? To answer all these questions, Augustine reconsiders the givens. Continue reading “Time Deconstructed. Part 2. Augustine: Extension of the Mind”→
In these series we would like to present how time can be thought of in philosophy – that is, time reflected out and through man’s experience and then put back into the experience to transform or modify it. If time is viewed as an objective essence beyond all consciousness, then we deal with a scientific view, which is not the purpose here.
Seneca: Saving time
The first reflection upon the nature of time should begin with the acknowledgment of the shortage of human life. It cannot be yet profound, and instead, it shows that people have only finite time at their disposal. As obvious it seems, the lack of such awareness is evident in a person who acts as if though he were prepared to exist forever. In other words, he does not attach any value to time or squanders it. Do not jump to the conclusion that the purpose of awareness is to rouse a person from sleep to the full potential of life and to fill the latter with excitement. For a philosopher, and especially the one we are going to talk about, the life void of proper thinking would be even worse than day-to-day reality of opinions. As an example, we are taking a stoic who, by the very nature of Stoicism, places value only on the life of the mind. Continue reading “Time Deconstructed. Part 1. Seneca: Saving Time”→
Solitude and silence can be very rewarding things if you learn how to use them. Those practicing meditation know how hard it is to stop the constant chatter of the mind. There is nothing wrong with having thoughts, but having too many thoughts can be exhausting and contaminating for vision. Bombarded with dozens of images within just a minute, you seem to have no privilege to stop the flow of appearance and rethink your attitude to it, but to live on your terms is to be able to re-direct that flow. Your picture has to be clearer. The ideal state, however, should be conceptual thought instead of merely organized representation (picture-thinking).
The closest goal of meditation is to dismiss any particular picture-thought and to regard it from aside (not to be lead by an emotion resulting from a picture). The task of solitude and silence is in going over all images, which your memory delivers every single moment, devouring them, and finally, ridding of them for good. The process consists of not letting to enter new information into your mind and silencing whatever unnecessary you already have. The more time you spend alone, the more you develop minimal reflection helping to get a clearer picture of who you are and your state of affairs.
We can surely say that happiness either exist or does not exist. Philosophically treated, happiness either the life of wisdom (Stoics’ definition) or the ideal of imagination (Kant’s definition). Not choosing any side prematurely, we should at least go with Kant against the conventional image of happiness as the pile of things quenching all the physical need of the man.
Living through external, ever in the quest for wealth, honor, and sensual pleasure (Spinoza’s three types of affects), people are running into the abyss of non-being. To find a way out, we should reconsider our concept of knowledge and its practical aspects. Knowledge is not a dead thing that only applies onto externals. It is the most useful thing (if the word thing can be used here at all), which can lead us to the sanest life. And that life with the unity of thinking and action we could call the genuine happiness.
We often try to justify our activities. Especially nowadays, if we study philosophy, we want to explain the goal of philosophy to ourselves and others. But do we really need anything more than this – ‘We ourselves possess beauty when we are true to our own being; our ugliness is in going over to another order; our self-knowledge, that is to say, is our beauty; in self-ignorance we are ugly.’ (Plotinus. Enn. V.8 / The Heart of Plotinus: The Essential Enneads. p. 186).