Wednesday, July 06, 2011

A Time for Philosophical Reflection...

Reflection on Time, Space and Being in a New Context

Ali Asghar Kazemi*

June, 2011


A Time for Reflection
Basic Concepts                              
1.       The Notion of Time
2.      The Realm of Space
3.      The Nature of Being
Changes in the Context
1.       Being and Virtual Reality
2.      Rise of Universal Man
3.      Lost in  Cyber- Space  
Final Remarks
Further Readings

The extraordinary marvel of the new information technology has provided opportunity for all to plunge into the sea of knowledge for doing rigorous research or simply satisfying one’s intellectual curiosity in a particular field. This revolution has indeed changed all dimensions of our life and has given us the capacity and chance to tackle with all matters and questions of our interest.
With a bit of skill in computer and internet, it is now possible to have access to an immense amount of information concerning every conceivable fields of knowledge in the world. The problem for students in doing researches now is no longer the accessibility to the sources and literature but the selection of proper data and materials to verify or validate a proposition or hypothesis. This is indeed a real revolution that only past academic generations can fully appreciate.
This essay is the product of a simple curiosity and conjecture about man’s fate on earth in the light of extraordinary changes in knowledge and information technology.  The emphasis here is on three important concepts of time, space and being facing such drastic unexpected transformation. I hope this will encourage other interested students of social sciences to ponder upon similar topics.

A Time for Reflection
While not very many people are interested in theoretical matters, there are some important issues in our daily life that have ontological character that require philosophical reflection.
For example, few ideas have penetrated the human consciousness as profoundly as that of time, space and being. The idea of time and space has occupied human thought for thousands of years. These things at first sight seem simple and easy to grasp, because they are close to everyday experience. Everything exists in time and space, so they appear as familiar conceptions. However, what is familiar is not necessarily understood. On closer examination, time and space are not so easily grasped. [1]
By the same token, being and existence, in the words of Heidegger is not definable by a "what", like a simple thing, but by a "who" that is shaped by existence in time. Thus, human being is to exist with a certain past, a personal and cultural history, and by an open series of possibilities that one can seize hold of or not.[2]
There is no doubt that the revolutionary change in technology has also affected the notions of time and space and consequently the reality of human being. Today we talk about “real time,” “cyber space,[3]” and “virtual reality.[4]” This means that we live in a world quite different from what our ancestors used to experience. How much are we aware of our existence in today’s life? How far are we limited in time and space in the fulfillment of our ideals? What is the present condition of human beings in closed societies?
 In this essay we intend to reflect on the old notions of time, space and being in the light of new development in knowledge, with a view to comprehend man’s present condition  and to find out whether he is better off  or worse in life.    Read full text in pdf

[1] See: Relativity Theory,
[2] In what, then, does the being of being human consist? Heidegger's answer is existence (Existenz). Therefore, the question of being is to be accessed by way of what Heidegger calls "an existential analytic". But what sort of thing is human existence? It is obviously defined by time: we are creatures with a past, who move through a present and who have available to them a series of possibilities, what Heidegger calls "ways to be". For Heidegger, there are two dominant modes of being human: authenticity and inauthenticity.  See Infra.

[3]  In current usage the term "cyberspace" stands for the global network of interdependent information technology infrastructures, telecommunications networks and computer processing systems. As a social experience, individuals can interact, exchange ideas, share information, provide social support, conduct business, direct actions, create artistic media, play games, engage in political discussion, and so on, using this global network. The term has become a conventional means to describe anything associated with the Internet and the diverse Internet culture. Wikipedia
[4] Virtual reality (VR) is a term that applies to computer-simulated environments that can simulate physical presence in places in the real world, as well as in imaginary worlds.

* Ali Asghar Kazemi is professor of Law and -International Relations in Tehran-Iran. Students, researchers, academic institutions, media or any party interested in using all or parts ‎of this article are welcomed to do so with the condition of giving full attribution to the author and the ‎Middle East Academic Forum. ©All Copy Rights Reserved.‎