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kitszu's avatar

Does the human understanding of time exist outside of the human mind?

Asked by kitszu (1326points) October 3rd, 2012

Is time an entity or a concept? Physics says that time is a measure of change, yet as humans we live and die by calenders and clocks. I’m always running “out” of time.

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16 Answers

flutherother's avatar

Other creatures are aware of time but not in the sophisticated way humans understand it. A dog would have little use for a watch but will know when it is time for walkies or time to be fed.

Consciousness is required to compare what was with what is and this is what creates the idea if time. Without consciousness there can be no time. For the particles that make up the universe the beginning and the end of the universe seem like the same moment.

Bellatrix's avatar

I used to have a cat that knew when I was usually home. She would sit in the window and wait for me. Similarly, my dogs go and sit in a particular place in the house where they can watch for my husband’s car later in the afternoon. They must have some sense of the passing of time.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

Time as we see it is a human concept. Animals go by light cycles, so time is always changing for them.

wonderingwhy's avatar

No, as we’ve nothing we can explain it to (in which we can recognize their understanding) and if something else understood it independently yet identically then it wouldn’t be the “human” understanding.

Time is a perceived dimension in which we referentially exist. It is an entity from which concepts are founded. Concepts such as “running out of time”.

lightsourcetrickster's avatar

I would also concur that animals have little understanding of time in comparison to humans. Pavlov’s dogs anyone? Pavlov, as every psychology student should know, conducted an experiment where basically a dog could be trained to salivate at the sound of a bell, when that bell sounded, initially it got some food, but eventually the food stopped but the bell was rung – and still the dog salivated when that bell was rung. So really for creatures other than human beings (for creatures we still are), it’s down to light cycles and in the case of pets, behavioral patterns.
Draw your own conclusions from that, but personally I think it’s a little weird to consider that something other than a human being could have a human’s understanding of time.

wundayatta's avatar



Simple as that.

Time is a human invented concept.

janbb's avatar

The “human understanding” of anything cannot exist anywhere else but in the human mind. If you are asking whether time exists as an entity outside of the human conception of it that is a different question.

Pazza's avatar

Time to get up
Time to go to school
Time to go to work
Time to get a new TV
Time to let the dog out
Time to worry about paying the bills….....

Animals (time = I need to / I want to / I must):
Time to get up
Time to stalk
Time to eat
Time to protect
Time to procreate
Time to go to sleep

I think animals concept of time is probably based on the natural urges they have, which they probably have little or no understanding of. They just know they need to.

I’m now wondering if a male lion ever wonders, do I have enough time for nookie-nookie before I need to sleep?

ucme's avatar

How did the humble caveman know when the clan’s meat was cooked?
Did a lower ranking member stand over the fire roasting his nuts & then yell ping!?!
I guess we’ll never know, not for certain anyway.

lloydbird's avatar

Can’t be long… must dash…....not got much ti…...........................

Berserker's avatar

I think that the concept of time that we currently go by and understand is a machination we created in order to understand and meet the urgency of stuff we have to do, like wash your dirty clothes or kill something with a club. But the reasons behind our need to conveniently simplify whatever time is comes from something a little more primitive I think, so that these are related probably means we made that shit up. But I don’t know. I have a hard time NOT affiliating the passing of things like day and night, life and death and stuff to our concept of time. Is everything still, but just that things happen in that stillness? So it’s not actually passing? I mean when you’re dead you no longer are, you only exist as a corpse, but what did that? Probably not time, besides as what we understand it to be in our minds, right? I mean like, indirectly, no matter how you die, there was a period of time in between when you’re first born and when you roundhouse a bucket, so what the hell is that in between if not time? I dun get it, so I guess that’s why it’s easy for people to just ascribe whatever’s easier.

Bill1939's avatar

It is my understanding that the body (human or other animal) has several internal clocks that track time. However, since the question specifies ‘understanding’ I doubt that non-sentient creatures could ‘understand’ time. Still, science has next to no understanding of nonhuman intelligence (such as with octopi) and so we cannot give the question a definite no. Also, few humans understand time in the way that physicists (like Einstein) understand it.

tups's avatar

Do you know any human beings, that have ever been outside of the human mind?
No, me neither – therefore one cannot know the answer to this question.

Pazza's avatar

I’ve been out of my mind…....
But it’s usually with worry, like when one of the kids goes missin!....little buggers!

Probably because they have no concept of time…....

Paradox25's avatar

According to Einstein’s Relativity theories time is an actual entity, so time exists whether any sentient entity is aware of it (time) or not. If you’re open to the possibility that relativity theories could be wrong then I suppose that time really could be nothing more than a construct of a sentient mind, a seemingly necessary one though regardless.

Bill1939's avatar

How can human understanding of anything exist outside of the human mind? If you are asking if time exists without knowledge of its existence, you are paraphrasing the hoary question of “if a tree falls in the forest and no one (any life form that can detect sound) is there to hear it, does it make a sound?”

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