The mystery and the magic of time: a few
attempted to defend the cause of the multiplicity of coexisting
lived times against Albert Einstein. His concept of lived
times immediately relativises time as a category and suggests
that time is not absolute and therefore it is a reflection of
the events that we measure as signifying the passing of time.
It would seem that for Henri Bergson, time is events: that which
you measure/take as determining that time is passing. It
would follow that time does not show anything other than the
events that we select and define as indicating to us
that time is passing. The implications are serious. We can say
that what we see as the passing of time, in fact describes what
we see, and not how things are. Can
we therefore influence time? It can certainly be claimed that we can
influence how we measure it.
realisation can lead us to another one. By influencing
the ways in which we measure time, we may discover events that
previously escaped us. These new events may have the potential
to tell us more about the conditions that trigger the passing
of time. We may also find ways to stop those events from
taking place and therefore to stop a chain reaction of specific
processes that we may wish to prevent from happening. Isn't
suggest that the way in which Bergson talked about time was
from the perspective of the methodology for conducting an inquiry.
Myconclusion would be that by investigating the various ways
in which we measure time, we may gain insights into the processes
which necessitate other processes. We may also gain insights
as to how to stop some processes from taking place and therefore
how to stop or slow down the passing of time for the events
considered. In this way, we can find ways of influencing the
lifecycle of living organisms, including the ageing process.
It is known that Henri Bergson and Einstein were in conflict
regarding the issue of time. Einstein categorically rejected
the “philosopher’s time”. In his view, lived experience
cannot recuperate or save what has been denied by science! For
Einstein, distinctions between past, present and future were
outside the scope of physics.
I would like to propose that Bergson and Einstein
could not resolve the problem of what is time because they had
no problem. In my view, they were both saying the same thing
and, in fact, both were right. Thus Bergson talked
about time from the perspective of how to expand our methods
of inquiry. On the other hand, Einstein talked about time
from the perspective of the outcomes of the inquiry. Einstein's position
that time is a construction in the universe where, in fact,
nothing happens is a reflection of his attitude to what he discovers.
Everything is relative and hence not true in an absolute sense.
They both were saying the same thing. In my view, the difference
is that Bergson’s model helps us to understand better the concept
of relativity of the references that we apply to measure time.
does help us see is that the reality of the concepts such as
ageing, death, disease, we take as
fate. Ageing therefore seems normal, diseases
must be cured, and death is inevitable. However,
as Einstein reminds us, problems cannot be solved within the
mindset that generated them. To change the mindset would require
to further explore our definitions,
understandings, our measurements. We may find
out that different ways of looking at processes may reveal to
us more potent and more revealing observations and possibilities.
Einstein's distance to the categories in terms of which
we act reminds us that our categories should be objects with
which we work in order to discover more. Consequently, we cannot
be slaves to our categories.
I would suggest that, quite possibly, little
may be inevitable as, to follow Einstein's thinking, nothing
ever is what it seems to be. How things are is up to us: it
all depends how we work with information. And yes, immortality
may well be within reach, provided that we do not corrupt the
question of immortality with the perspective of an interested
science. I see a disinterested science as one that proceeds by continually relativising
its discoveries in terms of the opportunities that they open
up and those which they close off. It is a dynamic
science which sets no boundaries on the inquiry process in
regard to the questions that it asks and the reference contexts
which it investigates. I am not alone in this view (cf. Latour
other hand, an interested science proceeds by sculpturing
'a method of measurement', a point of view, into separate disciplines
with questions which claim legitimacy from within the perspective
of the point of view that forms the discipline. But, to follow
Saul, there is little benefit in knowing everything about something
which is very small. Saul repeats the words of the president
of Petro-Canada, “you can’t shrink to greatness” (Saul, J.R.
1997. The unconscious civilization: 107). Certainly,
recent shifts in higher education argue against the research
culture that cultivates a small mind (click
here for more on this).
2003 (Ania Lian)