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The Construction of Time

 

Explanations > Meaning > The Construction of Time

Only four things | Time as a construct | The variability of time | So what

 

How do we sense time? There is a paradox here that could makes time a very variable thing.

Only four things

If you ask a scientist how many fundamentally things there are in the universe, he or she will probably answer 'four'. Not four dimensions, but four things that spell STEM: Space, Time, Energy and Matter.

Space, energy and matter can be sensed directly with one or more of our five senses, but how are these used to sense time? Problem, eh?

Time as a construct

The strange reality is that we construct time internally, by taking sequential experiences and noticing that they are different. We thus, literally, create time internally, making it a unique experience for each of us. Yes, we can look at a watch, but time is still the collation of the sequential images of looking at the watch.

This creates a strange scientific and philosophical dilemma. If we construct something internally, does it exist at all?

The variability of time

One distinct effect of time as a construct is that we experience it very differently at different, er, times. Time flies when we are having fun and drags by when we are not. The tick of a clock can be a moment or joy or an eternity of pain.

So what?

If you can manage the construction of time in yourself and other people, you can manage a significant element of their experience.

A key secret of time management is in breaking it down. If you look at the clock often, then time will seem to go slowly. If, on the other hand, you become engaged in an interesting task or enjoyable pastime, then time will fly by.

See also

Temporal language, Hofstede's cultural factors, Trompenaars' cultural factors, Spending Time, Attention and Time, Metaphors and time

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