The Philosophy and Logic of “TIME”

By Shivute Kaapanda [Think Tank Africa]

Humanity has since the beginning of time tried to understand the world around them and the phenomena it represents; and this was particularly about time or what it was.

The difference in the understanding of time has placed many in a state of intellectual discomfort particularly in Africa where the concept of time and its history is related to western religion and philosophy. (This work thus analyses the concept of time’s perceptional logic, its polarized meaning and relationship to our thinking.)

Time is critical of humanity but it reasonably organizes our values and perceptions.

Interestingly, human beings are thought to be critical of what time entails especially its meaning and relativity. The popular proposition that time is a reality has caught our moral consciousness in presenting an antithesis that a reality that time does exist is of literal falseness, irrational and is based on polarized social values.

Time does not exist as a reality but rather as a social construct; not all social constructs are real and therefore time is one of those that are not. Friedrich Nietzsche, a German radical philosopher once pronounced that, “what is normal to a spider is chaos to a fly.”

Therefore time exists in the context of a spider and a fly, time is neither actual nor objective, the context in which time exists is a social one and not natural and it’s therefore based on human perceptions; human perceptions are different due to different cultural and religious groundings.

Time is a fundamental social balance of our consciousness upon which different beliefs rest; it’s in fact a kind of a fastest astral imagination of humanity that if cats and dogs were to be subjected to it they would rather prefer to go mad.

The reason that time is perceived differently in different geographical, cultural and religious contexts among others is the primary indication that time itself does not exist actually, actuality is objective and not subjective therefore time and its meaning does not exist in the actual world. The formations of social tools such as calendars to control time are social conceptions and laws to control the existence of humanity.

Time controls our minds such that we become frustrated when time is up to do something, this brings us to the perceived understanding that time is linear, divisible and consumable; I’m inclined to think that time is not linear but our understanding of time is very so.

Time is a universal perception controlled by social laws which control human interactions. Some argue that time especially in Africa is Eurocentric; rather it’s our perceptions of time that are Eurocentric, time itself is independent of adjectives, it is humanity that made time adjectival in order to suit our linguistical expressions.

The Eurocentric view of time does not make time real either because different calendars speak different languages in terms of how time should be perceived and organized, therefore we shouldn’t be confined to an understanding that the only rational belief is that a day is 24 hours and a year is 365 days.

All beliefs are subjective. Does time discriminate humanity and locations? Time is indeed relative and exists only in our minds depending on our frames of references and the extent of how we are socialized with it, e.g. if we are socialized to think that 13h00 is lunchtime or June to July is winter time or that on the 1st of January marks a new year or that 16 April is a an Easter day we will grow up believing that such is a reality of time’s existence because our realities are culturally perceived and to some extent Christianized; reality itself is not inherent, time is neither inherent nor actual or natural.

If it’s correct of the Gregorian calendar that the 1st of December is a New Year day then how much more is it correct for a Chinese lunar calendar to project 16 February as a Chinese New Year day? The question is which day is new and to whom and for what reason? This is where Friedrich Nietzsche’s words become relevant that “what is normal to a spider is chaos to a fly” meaning what is correct in one culture or religion is wrong in the other.

The perceptions of time in the universe are polarized such that the Chinese calendar is interpreted in a language of Pope Gregory XIII in whose honour the Christian calendar was named after in 1582 and therefore the interpretation of a Chinese calendar in English is miraculous.

The introduction of the Christian calendar, the so-called western calendar, which is also a modification of a Julian calendar (Julius Cesar) has swallowed up the civilization of African people, their identities, rituals and their logics of thought on how they perceive time.

African rituals today are viewed in the spectrum of the western calendar, and African spirituality and schools of thoughts and traditions became intellectually married to the western logics and interpretations of time.

African sacred systems of understanding time such as via the position of the sun in the sky, the moon and the stars and the shades of the trees are no longer valid but due to our solid relationships with the ancestors such understandings are still symmetrical to our traditional beliefs as Africans.

The evolution of time in Africa has seen so much trends but it never saw one of the African kind; this is not to be located in a conservative sense but in a liberal fashion which embrace African traditional inputs on how we perceive time today.

Before the invention of alarms, in a typical African village it was normal to wake up in the morning by the sound of a rooster without being late for daily chores but today in some parts of the modernized villages the sound of the rooster has become a taboo, the position of the moon, the stars and the sun become irrelevant due the changes in the social and cultural dynamics which is a western controlled scheme.

In a new world, time has become a commodity and carried a faster meaning than before.

In the final analysis time does not exist actually even if it’s believed to be, the belief for its actual existence is of literal falseness and therefore does not find meaning in critical reasoning and modern rationality.

— Shivute Kaapanda is a critical African scholar from Eyanda village. This passage is lifted from his seminal book “The Conscious Republic” published in 2020.