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January 13, 2018 | Author: timarmoon | Category: Dialectic
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"The essay that follows maintains that the evolutionary journey of man may still be described as one from darkness to light but not one from time to the timeless. Rather, it is one from the primitive reality of whatever is timeless, to the immense wealth of whatever is temporal. The least significant aspects--the electric charge on the proton, the speed of light -- are eternal, are timeless. The most sublime aspects of the human world -- love, beauty, knowledge, our lives -- are temporal, are passing." (page 13)

"Time and Time Again: Reports from a Boundary of the Universe" deserves to be regarded as a canonical work for humankind's journey into the 21st century. I first discovered Julius Thomas Fraser through "Time, Passion and Knowledge" (1975) in the 1980's and have been amazed by the depth and breadth of his thinking. Fraser was born in 1923 in Hungary and emigrated to the US in 1946 after the horrors of the Second World War. He died on November 21, 2010 in Westport, Connecticut.

The world might benefit from J. T. Fraser : "History is now at all gates, everywhere and all the time. I do not mean agreement on the dates of one or other king. I mean an agreement about the origin and evolution of man, the origin and evolution of the universe."

Rather like Hermann Hesse's Glass Bead Game master, Julius Thomas Fraser plays with the study of time with intellectual depth and lyrical beauty. This edition is beautifully bound with a cover of Caspar David Friedrich's "Wanderer Overlooking a Sea of Fog". We all are wanderers overlooking a sea of fog. This book has had pride of place in my library, alongside his other works.

On page 265:
"The sciences may be regarded as forms of the humanities, following certain rules of their own--as do all the arts and letters. Although early science was a mixture of inquiries into the nature of Nature and interest in (what later came to be called) technology, modern science originated in the desire of finding out about 'God's plans' and logic. This is from an ode by the mathematician Edmond Halley, "prefixed" to the Principia.

Lo, for your gaze, the patterns of the skies!
What balance of the mass, what reckonings
Divine! Here ponder too the Laws which God.
Framing the universe, set not aside
But made the fixed foundations of his work.

To the store of humanities let me, therefore, add the forms of knowledge known as the sciences. They differ from the arts and letters only in their shared and necessary assumption that the universe is lawful, that these laws may be identified by humans, and that the cosmos follows a certain stable logic. They share with the humanities their spirit of exploration, their search for coherence by plot that is, by meaning (known as hypotheses) and their readiness to mine their imagination. To the immense store of imaginary scenarios offered by the arts and letters, the sciences add their tests--with their validities forever challenged and subject to change - as to what is possible, difficult or impossible for humans made of matter, possessing life and possessed by ideas."

Fraser's novel view is the theory of time as conflict - a nested hierarchy of unresolvable conflicts. Human values are instructions whose purpose is that of keeping alive the unresolvable, creative conflicts of the strange walker.

A summary of the temporal umwelts is as follows:

atemporal -
blank sheet of paper
objects travelling at speed of light
black hole/Big Bang
causation has no meaning

prototemporal -
fragmented shaft of an arrow
partical-waves travelling at less than speed of light
instants may be specified only statistically
probabilistic causation joins prototemporal events

eotemporal -
shaft of an arrow
countable and orderable without a preferred direction
nowless time
physical matter
time orientable but not time oriented
deterministic causation joins eotemporal events

biotemporal -
short arrow
future, past, present,limited temporal horizons
organic present
simultaneities of necessity
organic intentionality directed toward concrete goals and serving the continuity of the organism's life
multiple and final causation
rigid programming gives way to dynamic programming

nootemporal -
long straight arrow
"You'll come to me out of the long ago"
intentionality directed towards concrete or symbolic goals
serving continued integrity of the self.
human actions are connected through symbolic causes known as ideas
the possibility of choice among ideas and corresponding actions is known as human freedom
ideas can produce responses to imaginary challenges

sociotemporal -
A society is a group of people with a family of conflicts that defines them
and distinguishes them from other societies.
man has capacity to change social institutions in response to symbolic causes

In his work on the theory of time as conflict he articulates that the search for truth is prompted by the mind's propensity for whatever is enduring, whatever seems to defy death, and that a working definition of truth is the recognition of permanence in reality.

However, as there is no permanence, knowing what is believed to be true has been a perennial source of unresolved conflicts. His conclusion is that the historical function of the search for truth has been the creation of conflicts, and through them, social, cultural, and personal change: an evolutionary model.

Likewise beauty is such that our feelings desire its perpetuation. The opposite is ugly. Again as we cannot agree on our desires the conflict creates an evolutionary impetus.

And to round it off the same applies to right and wrong, which have shown themselves to be efficient beyond our wildest dreams in creating conflict and thence momentum.

"What is this time? If no one asks me, I know; if I want to explain it to a questioner, I do not know." With this single quote from St. Augustine (Confessions, 11:14), J.T. Fraser introduces the universal tension within the human psyche: the difference between time felt at a basic emotional level, and time understood as an intellectual subject of inquiry. Drawing upon the humanities, as well as the biological sciences, Fraser does not try to resolve this tension, but rather to follow out the implications of this tension for individuals and society. In so doing, his final goal is the production of a unified theory of time.

The Voices of Time: A Cooperative Survey of Man's Views of Time as Expressed by the Sciences and by the Humanities

Time: The Familiar Stranger [ illustrated]
Of Time, Passion, and Knowledge
Time, Conflict, and Human Values




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