The Problem of Action and Time

I’ve always been a very internal person. I wouldn’t call myself a thinker. That sort of terminology is just, too overblown. Regardless, I spend a lot of time in thought. Perhaps its because I’m an anxious person, perhaps its because its because of something else, I really don’t know. I’ve never really considered myself to suffer from some sort of interpersonal anxiety, but the more I consider such a reality the more plausible it becomes. Maybe that in and of itself is a placebo, some sort of self-induced paranoia resultant of my own desire to be considered not paranoid, and in my reveries I’ve brought about that which I have feared.

It’s a funny thing, time. I’ve always considered myself to be living in what I like to call “the eternal now,” because really our lives are just that, an endless series of moments, each dissipating just as soon as it came to us. When I picture the concept I picture a man stuck in jello. Now of course I don’t consciously intend for such an analogy to be so depressing, but I can’t control my subconscious. It’s really quite a sad state of existence when you think about it. We’re all trapped in that which presently is, something ephemeral and yet at the same time eternal. The present moment is something that has just passed you by as you’ve read this sentence, but still goes on just as you’re eye glanced at that apostrophe, these commas, and now at this period. But perhaps this dualistic nature of time is the result of conflation of two separate yet similar definitions of moment, one encasing the other. On one hand you have many moments, instances really, all passing through the eternal moment. Much like a reel of film passing through a projector, we can only see a certain moment when the proper slide, a certain location, is visible. Perhaps these moments aren’t one in the same, but two pieces of a larger whole.

Again, as with the projector, time is moved by a mechanism independent of that which time contains. We cannot time, as we are part of it. We exist within its confines, and to say that we may move the mover is to say that a cartoon may break free of his aspect ratio. Just as a cartoon cannot walk out of the television, we too cannot walk out of time. I, for the longest time, have desired for time travel. As have the great minds of Verne, Wells, Einstein, and so many more. But now I’ve come to the aforementioned realization. Of course Einstein posited that time was much like a river, and we more like boats. But in such an analogy we are still moved by time, and it would take another external force to move us back. If you want to understand this literally such a force is inside the boat and thus it too is moved by time, but logically its difficult to reconcile this with the idea of the mover and the moved.

Time exists as forever created whole, always in existence but forever being revealed. Our eternal now is the viewfinder through which we peer into the reel of moments that constitute our reality. Each new moment, like each slide, is created via the actions of that moment, that slide, that has past. Right now, gain heightened self-awareness. Think about where you are sitting/standing/laying. In this moment, the fact you are where you presently are is the result of the actions taken and the slides viewed in the hours or perhaps minutes prior. Each action, as Newton tells us, has an equal and opposite reaction. For our sake the ideal of “opposite” will be left out, as it doesn’t much matter at this moment. Each new moment has been shaped by the hands of men, forged in the flames of action. If your mother hadn’t met your father, there would be no you. If you had fallen as a baby, you would not be reading. If you wouldn’t have clicked a single link, you would have no idea who I am. Each new slide and moment is the sum total culmination of all events taking place prior.

But this is the problem that I have with action and time. Action often distorts our view of time, and many, myself included, cannot see time objectively. It’s a great issue, really, and perhaps that’s why so many of us have desired for the ability to go and redraw those slides that perhaps became sloppy at the hands of anger, malice, or haste. The more action we take the more the lines between reality and fantasy become skewed, as we expend more of ourselves towards singularities rather than pluralities, we lose site of the peripherals. Even I find that there are days when my mind is lost in my action, lost in myself, drowning in a ceaseless deluge of experience. It’s almost as if I call back to Einstein, as I see myself as but a vessel of consciousness, floating aloft in not a river, but an infinitely vast and expansive sea of time, whisked away by the turn of the tides. Moved along I forget totality, I forget people, and I become transfixed on my work. I’ve never seen anyone talk about this experience before, but it is the most disorienting thing one can imagine. I look back at conversations I had and remember them as if they only took place days ago, only to find that people with him I wanted to build connections I haven’t spoken to in months. It feels like I’m no longer living, but just existing. It’s now the middle of my junior year, and it feels as if it started only yesterday. I’ve lost most, not all, but most of my track of time.

And as I find myself in these reveries while I work, I think only of the actions I’ve taken. Really, the lack of action. If one was tasked with completing the construction of a bridge, but took no initiative to do so, can one really deem him much better than one who destroyed that which had already been partially built? Both have failed their peers, both have not completed their tasks, and both have left the situation in a manner that is largely unworkable. Like those characters on those slides, these men have shaped the present moment. Their failure to proceed has resulted in the a reel of film in which progress has not been made. The plot has remained static and the mechanism has decayed. The people have grown bored of watching the same scene for such duration, and many if not all have left.

The Necessity of the Area Grey, or, on Argumentation

While an argument may be defined as simply an exchange of views, it may be considered to be much more. Argument in the finest sense is not only examination, but qualification. Argument exists as examination in the sense that in order to argue, ie. present an argument, one must present a contingency. That is to say, one must present a conclusion from a given premise. This is invariably true, whether the causal relationship between premise and conclusion is made clear outright via the nature of the argument itself, or whether the relationship is implicit, as it oftentimes is. For instance, a religious man may say “I do not believe that the right to marry should be given to homosexuals.” In doing so, the man does not make explicit what he deems to be a presented and concluding idea, however both are present in his statement. The premise here takes the form of an assumption; really, multiple assumptions. Firstly, the man assumes that marriage exists and that homosexuals exist. He further assumes that marriage is a right and that there exists some grand means that may dictate the allocation of rights, a government. These are the premises from which the man draws his conclusion that the right may not be allocated. This is his argument defined curtly. Now, his adjoining support for his curt argument may also be compounded with it to form an argument of a different definition, in which case one may call the curt argument the thesis.

The premise mustn’t always be assumed, as it may be contingent upon statistics or some sort of other empirical data or logical reality. For instance, one may say “Given that the majority of suicides are due to depression, something must be done to mitigate the rate of depression in America.” In this case, there is a statistic used as a premise from which the conclusion may be drawn. However, there still exist assumptions. Firstly, the individual presenting the argument assumes that depression is negative and that suicide too is negative. The individual further assumes that the audience to which he is presenting the argument feels the same way, as he notes that something “must” be done, or “has to” be done. Regardless, one must understand that nearly all arguments make assumptions, as the grand majority of presentations are subjective. However, that is a talk for another time.

Likewise, all arguments must have premises. One cannot argue “abortion should be illegal,” without implying (assuming) that abortion is wrong. While the premise here is implicit, it is still present. Thus, when one states “there are many sides to an argument” one really means to say that “there are many argumentative conclusions to a premise” as what is implied is there are many positions based upon a given issue. What then can be said of argument when one understands that an issue, a premise, may have multiple conclusions? What one may understand is thus: the purpose of argument is to determine proper contingency. When two individuals discuss the pros and cons of a certain law, each make premise assumptions about the law and may site data as well. Regardless, each has his own argumentative conclusion within his thesis. It is this conclusion that acts as the aforementioned contingency, and it is the presentation of the information between the two individuals that serves as the determination or, as stated originally, qualification.

The discourse between the two individuals serves as a means to, between the two, determine the logical conclusion based upon the given premise. Each side presents the supportive information until one side concedes, and a proper contingency is found. Of course neither could concede meaning, in which case, the argumentative discourse between the two was unsuccessful.

Thence cometh the title of this post: grey areas. One can say that all arguments exist in grey areas and cannot exist without them. Grey denotes a middle ground, a happy medium existing between the extremes of black and white. Likewise, within argument, a middle ground is always present. One does not argue that something is universally true if there is no conclusion that may be further drawn from such a premise; the reason being, if something may be said to be true for all things, then nothing is added to those things. These things remain as they were, simply with added baggage of redundancy. A middle ground must exist within an argument that attempts to discern one thing from another, a right from a wrong, a proper from an improper contingency. For instance, if I state that “all conclusions are correct” this statement in and of itself may be said be to true, because the ideal of “correct” has not been defined. “Correct” could denotes a personal correction, an objective correction, or even a metaphysical correction that presumes that the ideal of “truth” simply does not exist. The redundancy of the statement adds nothing, and thusly the argument is too extreme. The argument is a black. Or a white. Doesn’t much matter because black and white are both extremes in this analogy. This is because to say as such also must take into account the reality of conclusions as they exist in the real world: some are most certainly not true. Thus, the sense of “correct” alluded to in the argument has no bearing on the reality and, while the argument may be true, it remains meaningless, because nothing further can be drawn out of it. Thus, argumentation has a single rule: arguments lack redundancy through qualification.