about time

by Paul Davies

I finished reading this book. I think it had been suggested by Mary a while back.

I must confess I am now very confused about time than I was at the beginning. If you have read a little philosophy, you will know what they say about time and space and our cognition. Then you read Davies and there are questions of whether there are universes where time is reversed. Whether faster than light travel is possible. Wormholes. Black holes. White holes. And many holes in between.

The book is accessible to even anyone with an elementary understanding of physics and mathematics. He is such an engaging author, the book is almost conversational.

Something Davies mentioned in passing that I thought interesting is our lack for a “time organ” like say we have a sight, smell or even sensory (I mean touch) organs.

Do you think if we get to answer the question of what is the nature of time our understanding of the self will change? Or it will remain unaffected by this knowledge and discovery into the nature of time. Does time exist always? Did it have a beginning and will it have an end?

Can we conceive of time without events?

In other newsworthy stories, there is Sabisky in the UK and then this story on eugenics and Dawkins.

A brief history of time

by Stephen Hawking

Is such an interesting read. But after I finished reading it, I am no wiser on what space is, whether time had a beginning and when. But at least I know there is psychological time, thermodynamic time and cosmological time.

Time travel maybe possible but there are paradoxes. If you travel back in time and kill your great great grandfather as a young man, will you born in the future? Unless you travel back in time but with an alternate history, but then where is the fun in this?

Are there singularities like the BBT or not? Does the universe have an edge?

Is determinism true or does the uncertainty principle rule it out completely?

Did god create the universe or rather the initial conditions and left the rest to take its course?

Is faster than light travel possible?

And finally, who was Einstein?

On African time

Many times I have heard visitors to Africa and even educated Africans complain about our seeming inability to keep time. All these complaints are born of ignorance of the African and their conception of time. It should be understood, as Mbiti writes in African Religions and Philosophy (1969), that time is simply a composition of events which have occurred, those which are taking place now and those which will immediately occur. In our conception, the future is virtually absent because events which lie in it have not taken place, they have not taken place and cannot, therefore, constitute time.

For us, then, time has to be experienced in order to make sense or to become real.

How, then, do we reckon time? We reckon time for a concrete and specific purpose, in connection with events but not just for the sake of mathematics. It is for this reason we had phenomenal calendars, in which events or phenomena which constitute time are reckoned in their relation with one another and as they take place writes Mbiti.

It is for this reason, therefore, it doesn’t what time the sun rises- whether at 5am or at 7am- as long as it rises.

For the technological mind, time is a commodity which must be utilised, sold and bought; but in traditional African life, time has to be created or produced. Man is not a slave of time, instead, he makes as much time as he wants.

As I said in the beginning of this post, many foreigners when they say Africans are always late or wasting time, they are talking from ignorance of what time is in Africa. We are not wasting time, we are either waiting for time or are in the process of producing time.

Next time you are visiting Africa or scheduling an appointment with one, don’t depend too much on your wrist watch, relax. We are never late. Morning is any time between sunrise and midday so be sure we will honour that appointment.

Here is a case of educated African reckoning time linearly 🙂


My previous post was on immortality. The contributions have been interesting but they got me thinking about a broader topic.

1. Why is metaphysics treated with apathy? Does it have any useful application?

2. What is time? Does it have a real existence?

3. What is space?

4. Does life has a beginning?  Does it end? Or put differently what is life?