The Reconstruction of Time: Continuing the Project

In my earlier posts, I shared a view (I oversimplified it a bit for a more popular consumption) of how I believe social orders come to be as they are — a theory of socio-cultural development.  Any good “phenomenologist” in the philosophy of science (Long live C. Bas Van Fraasen et al) can tell you that the way one measures, counts or rates this or that process or feature — as one does with his criteriology and his measuring sticks — in some measure determines how we see the thing itself.

There is a sociologically “constructive” element in the way we experience time, for instance.  We measure it mechanically (watches, clocks, sundials), and we measure it mathematically — days are 24 hours, a minute is composed of 60 (not 90) seconds, etc.  And we measure it (betimes) atomically.

“Naming” is another way in which we import “character” — imply a certain set of attributes — to the units of time we employ to help structure our lives – one of the primary “personal” and market-driven reasons for dividing, measuring and naming our standard time units.  We structure our lives by, and to some extent inherit the attributes of — the socially “standardized” units of time.  We construe time according to the attributes under which they are named (tacitly, not necessarily self-consciously)

Today I wish to propose, for the Deist community (and all more scientifically-minded types), a new way of measuring and constructing both months and days.

As it is, we have named our months strangely.  June is named for the Roman goddess “Juno,” (Hera for the Greek-inclined), July for Julius Caesar, and August for the Roman emperor named Augustus and October for his other name “Octavian.”  September is named for “Septimius” [Severus], etc  There is, to my liking, much too much Caesar worship going on here.  This may be causing social effects of which we remain ignorant, causing the spatial and temporal (over time) spread of certain “Roman leadership phenomena,” like the role played by the Roman catholic church that some might find to be very bad for science, and other positive cultural developments like constitutionalism and free-market capitalism — historically not Rome’s favorites.

To defeat the Roman scourge, we must rebuild our characterization of time. We should rename the days of the week for the great and excellent virtues that make for good people.  We can actually change people (and their character) by the reconstruction of time — as both wise and virtuous.  To do this, we should rename our basic units of measurement — days of the week, months of the year — after the virtues of wisdom and moral excellence.  I would recommend the Greek tongue for doing so.  Our months should read something like:

  1. Wisdom     2.  Understanding   3.  Discretion  4. Piety, devotion (Gk. Theosebeia)  5. Loyalty   6.  Charity   7.   Mercy      8. Truth    9.  Justice  (I would use the Gk. construction “Pro” + “Dikia” — In Greek “adikia” is lawlessness, so “prodikia” is justice, the pursuit of lawful order) 10.  Blessing   11.  Courage  12. Profitability

b.  The days of the week should read similarly.  Study to find the most excellent of all virtues and use these for the days of the week. Use only the very best after much “thesaurus searching” and discussion and debate. To urge on this venture, try together to construct a priority list for the various virtues you find in your dictionaries and thesauroi.

c.  A Bit More About the Construction of Time — An Orthographic View

Societies, we have learned, arise from the interactive use of language, and the predominant “central” or ” sacred” intellectual capital upon which we found them.  These have often been cosmic myths contained in stories transmitted by oral or else written traditions — as with Homeric (Greece and Rome), Egyptian or Hebrew and Christian mythological traditions.

The language that frames the primary intellectual capital (PIC hereafter) is born along by a certain set of symbols (signs and signifiers) managed by a certain set of rules (grammar, sytax, etc).  This gives extremely important status to the symbols used — letters and numerals in our case.  These are like the building blocks or bricks used to make the socio-cultural buildings we live in.  Just like the units of time we opt for in order to build up our overarching notion of time (history, which implies a certain philosophy of history — or [forgive me] “historiography”  <— STUDENT ALERT — you must put this word on your vocabulary list! — it is a “philosophy of history,” or of the way in which various cultures have understood, written and constructed their histories).

The tricky part about time stems from the fact that it leads forward, not only from the Big Bang (or else The Damn Loud BOOM), but also into the far distant future, as suggested by the book title “Megatrends 10,000 and Food Storage: Preparing for Y10k.”  However any one culture may construe the temporal flow, it will have to describe its view of time in words (language). I wish to suggest here something somewhat novel — even the very script we use to do our describing, curves and shapes our thinking and our constructions of time.  If you use letters that are square blocks (like Alexandrian Bibles), you will end up inventing movable type as square blocks (see your printing presses, typewriters and computers), and live in houses that are largely square blocks, like almost all business building and houses in the USA. These are almost always and only squares and triangles — a combination of Alexandrian square letters and pythagorean theorem triangles of geometry and trigonometry.

One recent book declares (after a significant study) that the Pythagorean theorem is in fact THE founding principle of Western Civilization.  I would suggest that this is a bit overdone, but that the affirmation contains a great deal of useful insights.

Here is another novel suggestion: the letters we use in our alphabet form both curved letters — the lower case “a,” the “O,” and the “Q,” and of straight letters like the capital “E” and the “L.”  I believe and would predict that an alphabet consisting ONLY of these — either the curved-letter only alphabet or else the “straight-letter only” alphabet, would yield radically variant results.  And one of them is the correct way to do things and the other not.  Both would construct our understanding of time –as well as our understanding of everything else — if used in a culture exclusively.

The correct way flows from the use of straight-letters only.  Ockham’s razor suggests these should be made as clear and distinct as possible.  These should comprise our ten letters, and our ten numerals.  Fewer penstrokes is generally easier on the eye, and is easier to write.  But with the development of the “keystroke” (Computers use keystrokes making the actual number of penstrokes to print a single letter not so relevant as it used to be.

The use of curved letters will tend to lead to a view of “curved space,” see Einsteinian relativity, and probably to a view of society that we would call lady-centered (matriarchy), while the use of straight letters leads toward its complement (patriarchy).   The deconstructionists would understood this claim intuitively.  We should also consider the constructive use of punctuation, and the dots that help build letters like the “i” or “j” – since dots and lines are not at all the same kind of formations.  These form starts and stops in their use as a kind of punctuation, similar to the notion of starts and leaps “punctuated equillibria” in biology.  Darwinian notions that “Natura non saltum”  (Nature makes no leaps — gradualistic development) is consistent with a kind of continuous script (scriptum continuum in ones PIC) — which is onrunning — and has no such breaks.

Kant left the orthographic and phenomenological features of the construction of time out of his categorical assessment.  Time is not constructed merely by our incipient categories, but by our social constructions, from the microcosmic level of orthography, to the macroscopic level of PIC that involves cosmic-mythological traditions.  Dr. Kant: we understand time in “built-in” ways according to our fundamental categories.  Dr. Craig: You are as accurate as a timepiece made in Switzerland, Dr. Kant, but the cognitive and perceptual categories by which we grasp our cosmic situation must be filled in with semantic content, determined by the symbols we use to construct literacy, and literacy to construct the episteme and value system that makes sense of the world for us.

I will print more about this topic if and when our beloved Creator wills it.

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