Acta Cogitata: An Undergraduate Journal in Philosophy


Our perceptions and beliefs about reality do not always reflect the true nature of reality. Conceptions of time are one example of this. Many of us intuitively feel that time is its own distinct and external entity that somehow drives life forward. It may be natural to feel time in this way, as we experience regular cycles and seasons as we age, but we must make a conscious effort to recognize that this feeling is only a perspective of reality and not necessarily reality itself. So, are hours or years inherently real and do they pass by as we perceive? Nagarjuna and Dogen help us to understand that time does not exist inherently, but is a set of relations among phenomena, and that our being is in unity with time. This understanding contributes to living mindfully and compassionately, and offers insight into the connectedness of all things. This essay will also briefly discuss how this view of time is related to discoveries in physics as well as questions of psychology concerning memory. We find that our usual conceptions of time can be useful at a conventional level, but we should understand that ultimately and fundamentally, time is empty (of substance).

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