Chapter 17 – Time


Time has been discussed a great deal in recent years and lack of time is a recurring theme. But time seems to be just a concept – one that we humans have created.

Lennart Lundmark, author and historian, gives in his book Tiden är bara ett ord a detailed description of the emergence of the concept of time. From the “natural” time – when humans followed only the changes in nature, sunrise and sunset, seasons and the like, and had a need to sort their daily impressions and experiences into some kind of order – via the ancient Greeks, the birth of the clock, industrialism and Taylorism, with time studies of working life, through to the age of the train and the need for a country- and worldwide time system. He writes that our natural concept of a uniform and universal time has not been formed by deep-thinking philosophers, but by technological and economical changes and once we have understood this, we can start undramatizing the concept of time and make it our servant instead of our master.

The concept of time we have today, where we perceive it as an independent, autonomous phenomenon – something that exists “in itself”, independent of surroundings and context – is relatively young and has already been questioned by many.

 The question of time?

Peter Heintel, Austrian professor of philosophy, who founded Tempus – a club whose aim is to delay time – said in an article that time really does not exist. ”What exists is processes, movements and changes. Dividing them into bits, measuring and naming them time is a human invention. Measuring all processes with the same yardstick is absurd.” Lennart Lundmark says in the same article: “Just knowing that clocks do not measure something out there which proceeds at its own pace gives us a new freedom”.

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While we can see that the universal time has created so many possibilities and much progress in the world, we need to have the courage to adapt time more to our own rhythm, to live more in the present. Allow ourselves to sometimes work a lot, sometimes less, to take care of children, study, do something else for our development. We need to rethink, but above all: dare to think for ourselves!

Next time you look at the clock, dear reader, remember that it only measures what we humans have agreed that it should measure!

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