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Can a society exist without a concept of time? If a society was forced underground, cut off from cycles like day and night, without any time-keeping technology, would one be invented at some point or would people simply dictate everything by the "now," eating when they are hungry and sleeping when they are sleepy etc.

What an inventive thought experiment, though a bit scary (it is hard to imagine that a society would undergo this transition due to creative, peace-time reasons). I take it that you are suggesting that we often measure time in terms of the sun, moon, and other above-ground factors (tides, stars...), tempered by various forms of technology. Without daylight and machines (no clocks of any kind or devices that would offer us a reliable metric system), "telling time" might be difficult indeed, but it is difficult to imagine any society without a grasp of the past, present, and future. None of us can live in the (or an) instant --that infinitesimally small "knife-edge" present in which there is no past or future. One may put the point technically as the claim that we live in intervals or events, not instants. I actually think that "instants" (like points in space) are more theoretical entities as opposed to concrete individual objects. So, I would say that an instant is the end or beginning of an event....

I'm confused by the saying "God transcends time" . To me it seems time is change ( thoughts, actions , and any other form of change ) So transcending time doesn't make any sense as you would need to change in some way to create the universe ,because To be timeless ( due to transcending time not making sense )would mean to be forever timeless if there is no form of change to cause you to change yourself. With this in mind wouldn't god creating the universe mean god exists within time? This would restrict god with the question of "where did it come from" due to it also being a timed being with a required beginning to initiate change. So what i'm trying to ask is, am i missing something? is it just that i'm not taking something into account that lead me to deduce this as impossible? I'm only 17 and i always hear this from many adults who have faith in god and i just ponder in my head how they could think this to be true. I'm not stating no god exists, nor that one does, i simply think this idea of...

Great observations and great questions! There are three views that are defended today by philosophers in the theistic tradition (the tradition that holds that there is a God who exists necessarily, is all good, omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, and the creator and conserver of the whole cosmos). On a traditional view (going back to Boethius and Aquinas) God is eternal in the sense that there is not before, during, or after for God. God's creating the cosmos as well as all God's acts are timelessly willed. On this model, God timelessly wills successiveness (the origin and sustaining of a changing cosmos) but God does not successively will (God wills at one time to do X and then do Y). This position is defended by many philosophical theists such as Brian Leftow at Oxford University. He is the author of the book Time and Eternity, which you might check out. Then there is the view called Open Theism which holds that God is in time God is present throughout all the created order NOW and is...

Seeing that most languages require that sentences to have tense, can we actually have any progress discussing time? I mean every sentence by its structure already assumes a understanding of time , how do we ever transcend the bounds of our current understandings of time if we still using "time" bound language?

Great issue(s)! Two thoughts to consider: first, it may not be obvious that all language is time-bound or tensed. The sentence 'two plus two equals four' or 'squares are four sided' might be interpreted as tensed (both sentences were true on Monday, and on Tuesday, etc) but they may also be understood as tenseless (their truth does not depend on temporality unlike the sentence uttered by me 'I am writing in response to your question now'). Second, I suggest that we can have interesting, competing philosophical theories of time when we look at the meaning of what you are calling "time bound language." So, for example, those who embrace what is often called four dimensionalism, treat all times as equally real. On this view, the French Revolution is occurring in 1789, and that is as real as the Battle of Waterloo which is occurring in June of 1815 and my writing you a reply in 2012. According to what is sometimes called presentism, only the present is real, so while it is true that the French...

Are historical facts always true, throughout time? Consider the fact that Barack Obama is the forty-fourth president of the United States of America. Was it true two hundred years ago? If someone in the nineteenth century had said "Barack Obama is the forty-fourth president of the United States of America", would it have been true?

This is an excellent question and one that is much debated historically and today. It has implications about freedom and determinism, logic, and the philosophy of God, good and evil. It seems that classical logic requires that propositions are either true or false. "Barack Obama is the forty-fourth president of the USA " appears to be a proposition. And we have found it to be true. But in that case, it seems that Obama could not have failed to have won the election against McCain. It has seemed to some (but certainly not all) philosophers that this would mean Obama's election was fixed in some sense, perhaps determined. Some who worry about this problem are theists who think that if God knows from eternity that in August of 2011 you would ask your question, then there is no possibility that you would not have typed in and submitted your question to Askphilosophers. For many theists, it is vital to affirm that creatures / human beings have free agency, otherwise it would seem that God has...

When I was a child, I wanted to know what forever was. I would sit and concentrate -- think and think and THINK -- until finally I felt what may have been a glimpse into something infinite. It was jarring, intense, and pretty incredible. What WAS that? Have other people had this experience?

Philosophers have expressed wide ranging views on the infinite, and even distinguished different kinds of infinites. In terms of the 'infinite' standing for a sequence of events without end, then (just as there is no greatest possible number) it is difficult for someone to claim to have experienced that (experienced all numbers, none of which is lacking in a greater number), though not perhaps difficult for one to claim to understand it (that is, understanding that there is no greatest possible number) or for someone to have an experience of time or space, along with the feeling that this will never end. There has been some interesting testimony by some philosophers to have experienced soemthing related that may be of interest. Some philosophers have claimed to experience that which is boundless or, in some sense, eternal. Probably the two most famous philosophers to have spoken and analyzed such experiences are Boethius and Augustine. Boethius spoke of God's eternity (and having some...

I have a series of questions about Time, motion, and space. Or maybe they are the same question expressed different ways in an attempt at clarity. Is the concept of "Time" possible apart from the concept of "Change"? In what ways are the two concepts different? Is it possible for "Time" to exist apart from "Change"? Can anything truthful be said about "Time" that does not also apply in an identical way to "Change"? Is "Change" possible without "Motion" of some kind? If even at an atomic level? Could time exist if nothing moved? How is the concept of time possible without the concept of motion? How is it in anyway different? How can space be conceived apart from the relation we refer to as 'distance' between two or more objects? If there was only one object in the universe how would space be conceived or possible? The same question applies to motion, how is it conceivable unless there is movement in relation to some other body? I am not a philosopher. I'm a high school drop out and...

You may be a high school drop out, but you have a genius for asking great questions! Let me try to break up the questions a bit. There is a difference between motion and change insofar as motion appears to involve physical objects and events. If there is motion, there is change, but some philosophers have either denied the existence of physical objects or events (some idealists) or they are theists who believe that there was a time when God (an immaterial / non-physical reality) existed and there were no physical objects. These philosphers would allow that change could exist, but without motion. In any case, once you have change, you have time, for change presumably involves there being one time when X occurs and then another time when X is not in the same state. If motion ceased, would time cease? Not necessarily, if there could be a nonphysical reality (God or souls or...) that change. But what if all change ceased? Would time then cease? Well, if by 'all change' we include 'temporal change'...