Psychology of the Clock

The basic human understanding of time is the ability to determine that certain events occurred before or after one another. A human viewing the world can see that this happened, and then this happened and then this happened. By maintaining relative position between themselves and other objects, as well as having a linear perspective about the relationship of objects to one another, people are able to view the world as a system of causes and effects. This allows for us to use logic in order to reason an understanding of events. However the idea of time is different personally then it is from an outside perspective.

Humans exist in a moment, however we never know any moment because by the time we’ve noticed it, it has passed. The past is where our minds exist, constantly playing catch up with our bodies that exist in the moment headed into the future. This was first dissected by the Greek Aristotle.

It is human nature to dissect time into smaller increments, in order to analyze it. That is why clocks have been so important to inventors throughout history. This is probably derived from our psychological need to name and categorize everything. It is the dissection of time that leads humans to look for the why questions, such as questions about meaning and existence. Since we base our world on a cause and effect time model, we are always looking for a cause.

Some philosophies have indicated that one of our greatest problems is our inability to view time as part of the world as a whole, rather then as small segments. The Buddhist ideal is to achieve a state of mind that is timeless, existing in a linear world but not being a part of the flow of this world. This is interesting. When we throw out the clock we get a sense of one ness with the world. Think about being in an isolation tank. The world suddenly stops being linear and what people are left with are the random collections of thoughts floating through the void without reference. Perhaps this is an indication of a greater truth about the nature of our world.

And of course, relativity theory has changed the way we view the clock too.

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