Time Doesn’t Exist – and other Sophist nonsense

So I sawtime this on Facebook.

It’s very deep, of course.

The argument goes like this:  Time doesn’t exist because the units we use to measure it can’t be found in nature. (They can, actually, we may get to that later).

But of course, this is absurd.  The same logic could be used to argue that distance doesn’t exist because centimeters are a social construct, or that mass doesn’t exist because grams are a social construct.

The fact that 3:02 PM on a Tuesday is just a social construct doesn’t mean that time doesn’t exist.  This is an important distinction.  Failing to make the distinction leads to all sorts of logical folly.

In a conversation with Severian a while back, we noted that sophists started this whole deal (or more accurately, perhaps, popularized and formalized it) where we confuse the words we use for things for the things themselves.

I commented on the photo, basically saying what I just wrote above, adding “trust me, time exists.”

To which my friend replied, “we’ll just have to agree to disagree on this one.”

Now I know he’s intelligent enough to understand what I’m saying and just wasn’t following at the time and was not interested in trying, so I just dropped it.  But it was clear he was stuck on the language of the photo posted and saw what the truth in it is — and went with the conclusion.  I wasn’t arguing the facts stated in the post.  I was arguing with the two conclusions, that 1) Time doesn’t exist, and 2) that time as a social construct makes us slaves to it.  Time, that is.  The thing that doesn’t exist.

My immediate thought was “we’ll have to agree to disagree”.  By “we’ll” I assume he means “we will”, which means starting at some point in time and going forward.  In time.  Which doesn’t exist.

If time doesn’t exist, then not only is there no future, there is no now.  And if there is no “now”, there is no “is”.  So I, who apparently do not exist in the first place, just “proved” that nothing exists.  Which is a tall order if you parse that sentence at all.

I recall a story from Zen Buddhism that basically went like so:

The master asks the student some koan (I forget what it was), and days later the student comes back and proudly answers that nothing exists.  The master then slaps him across the face and asks, “then what was that?”

Confusing language for reality gets us in a lot of trouble, quickly, especially when we start substituting reality for language — which is the direct opposite of what language does.  Reality is reality, language is the abstract.  It doesn’t mean reality is abstract.

It gets us into lots of trouble in all sorts of subject areas.  And politicians, the main consumers of sophistry, use this to great advantage, every day.

As far as the “slave” thing goes … the social construct of 3:02 PM on a Tuesday was created so we, who are by nature social beasts, can better cooperate with each other. If anything, we are slaves to our nature.  But that should come as no surprise.  Everything is.

More specifically, we are really slaves to agreements – but agreements are necessary for social behavior whether it’s “you must do this by such and such time or I will have you flogged” or “if you do this by such and such time I will pay you … something.”  The nature of the first “agreement”, of course, is coercive and immoral.

But if time doesn’t exist, then morality certainly doesn’t exist.  We can find no physical evidence of it in nature, right?  So who cares?  I digress.

The same thing is being done with gender right now.  In nature, humans are male or female (there are a few biological aberrations, but everyone by and large is one or the other).  Now, there are certain personality traits we associate more with one gender or another, and we have taken to some standardized ways of expressing ourselves accordingly.

But what have our modern sophists done?  They have taken these expressions, this “language”, and substituted them back into the reality of gender, claiming that gender is just a social construct.  But no, it is the expressions that are social constructs.  Gender remains what it always has been.  But the sophists insist that it is not.

What this boils down to is a war on society.  The assumption is that social constructs are arbitrary and therefore worthless.

But “worth” is also a social construct.

So I guess I can officially opt out of this conversation.

*note: 3:02 PM on a Tuesday does, in fact, exist.  It just had no name.  The name is an abstract.  The point in time is a reality.

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12 thoughts on “Time Doesn’t Exist – and other Sophist nonsense

  1. Nate Winchester

    Oh, this actually gets into something I’ve been noodling around. Sev – can you refrain from posting for a day until I get you the followup to this? The set up is perfect.

    The same thing is being done with gender right now. In nature, humans are male or female (there are a few biological aberrations, but everyone by and large is one or the other). Now, there are certain personality traits we associate more with one gender or another, and we have taken to some standardized ways of expressing ourselves accordingly.

    This gets so frustrating having to explain to the kids these days.

    Gender signals ARE a social construct. But they always exist. You know why? BECAUSE OF TIME! We’ve got X amount of seconds to our life to get shit done. In the past, this was much less than we have now. So to save a lot of time, everybody adopted these signals. That way a person could walk into an area and quickly establish where to invest their time. So men dressed and acted like men so those who like and want men can tell who is who. Same with women. Marriage customs were adopted so those who were available for breeding and those who were not could be distinguished. Adults had different signals from children. Ladies and gentlemen generally looked and behaved differently from whores and vagabonds.

    All of this was NOT oppression, it was about saving time. But nowadays we all have to try and figure out what your pronouns are and what you’re into but do it without approaching you nor stalking you, but just ignoring you is also oppression and just how can these people not see how miserable they make their own lives??

    I better stop there before the paddy wagon comes again.

    1. Severian

      @ Nate: Sure.

      @ Philmon: For pete’s sake, y’all, Greek philosophers were making these retarded arguments 2500 years ago.

      Parmenides asserted that nothing can move — that the river’s flowing is a “social construction,” if you will. He argued that, since the only two possible states of existence are “being” and “nonbeing,” and no being can come from nonbeing, nothing new can ever come into existence, therefore change is impossible, therefore there is no motion.

      Zeno (not the Stoic) had a famous paradox, the “Achilles,” in support of this. Give a turtle a one-foot head start in a footrace against Achilles, he said, and the tortoise will always win. In order to catch the turtle, you see, Achilles must first cut the distance between them in half. Then he has to cut that distance in half, then that distance in half, and so on to infinity — he will forever be halving the gap, so the gap will never be overcome.

      It’s just silly word games, that only sound clever to stupid people Problem is, all those stupid people are in academia, so they force their students to be even dumber than they are. Thank God for Aristotle, who instead of simply saying “y’all be morons,” actually went to the trouble of refuting Parmenides, thereby founding half of Western Civilization.

      1. philmon Post author

        ” For pete’s sake, y’all, Greek philosophers were making these retarded arguments 2500 years ago.”

        Oh, I know that (mainly thanks to you, Severian) which is why I brought them up. It just helps me cut through the bullshit so much more efficiently these days.

        I should probably say “so time doesn’t exist, and this means what, exactly, to me in my everyday life?”

        … in which “days” don’t actually exist so how could it be “every day” life ? … It does get absurd rather quickly once you brush aside the hocus-pocus language masquerading as intellectualism.

        Anyway, asking that question would quickly get you to their ultimate motive.

        Which I suspect is to f*ck society and do whatever you want and demand that you be supported in the lifestyle to which you’d like to be accustomed.

        1. severian

          Of course, I’m not accusing you of ignorance, my friend! 🙂

          The “for pete’s sake” is directed at the dumbasses who would say “time is a social construction” and think they’re clever. I wrote “@philmon” to indicate a general response to the topic (there needs to be some way of indicating this in internet-speak).

      2. MBlanc46

        JME McTaggart woukd disagree. Kant weighed in on the subject. So do modern physicists, such as Carlo Rovelli.

  2. Jay Carter

    On the subject of “Time”.

    Could it be that “all of the above” are over-thinking this “time” thing?

    Maybe just a little bit?

    As for myself regarding time, I subscribe to what I once heard some “chrome horse philosopher” say at a Harley rally.

    (As in William S. Harley and Arthur Davidson)

    He said: (And I know he had to hear it from someone else)

    “I’m not here for a long time. I’m here for a good time,” he said.

    So I went and found a girlfriend half my age.

    And I’m having a good time.

    1. philmon Post author

      Which is a great line from a great song.

      It’s not time itself I’m quibbling with. It’s the line of thinking. Especially when it masquerades as wisdom. It’s not. It’s nihilistic lunacy.

      1. Severian

        If you really want a rage headache, google “strong programme [sic] in the sociology of science.” Nothing but magic, magic words as far as the eye can see. There is no “reality,” only a sociolinguistic construction. Because, you see, since the universal tendency of dropped objects to fall earthward is called different things in different languages, there is no gravity. Similarly, because “32.2,” “feet,” “per second,” and “squared” are all conventions — we could just as easily say “@#$ 9 1KL189@$%6gi2 sie unt der blah vote Hillary!” — that means objects don’t really fall earthward at 32.2 feet per second squared.

        It’s science! Actually, wait, no it isn’t, because science is an oppressive construct of the pale penis people. It’s Social Justice! Because if anyone can make grand sweeping statements about the nature of “physical” “reality,” it’s guys who wrote their PhDs on the use of metaphor in Navajo rain dances and suchlike.

  3. Allen

    Loki sends them. The people who post about wonderful things like “time does not exist,” are just Loki’s Useful Idiots. The idea is to create the rabbit hole which you enter and spend time in. That and the bedevilment.

    I could be wrong though, the Universe might just be run by a group of really bad stand up comedians, or comediennes if you need the designation.

    Have you ever noticed that the same people who yell at you about using female titles also yell at you about using gender neutral pronouns? See it’s the bedevilment.

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