PERSONAL FILE: Finding Port in a Sea of Possibilities

I don’t believe in Fate. I think it’s intellectually lazy at best and, at worst, scorn-befitting doltery. Don’t be so quick to yourself dismiss it either as many hold fatalistic worldviews without even realizing it. Many will talk of “finding their path,” as though there were only one to find. Others will speak of life events–like finding and losing love, unexpected illness or death, fortunes won and lost–as “the Lord’s Will,” as though we’re mere unwitting actors in a divine soap opera. Granted, so much about life is beyond our ability to control: things like where and in what era of history we’re born; the conditions of our birth and our genetic heritage; endlessly variable economic, geologic, geopolitical, and sociocultural factors; etc., etc. We are, nonetheless, autonomous creatures who possess a unique combination of self-awareness, intelligence, and free will so as to be able to make decisions that can forever alter the course of life–for ourselves and those around us, for better and for worse.

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PHILOSOPHE: Shit No One Talks About

Salvador Dalí, The Persistence of Memory (1931...

Salvador Dalí, The Persistence of Memory (1931), Museum of Modern Art (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

I’ll lead by saying this probably isn’t the sort of post everyone will find riveting. All I can say is, It’s about time. Literally.

During the research phase of writing my senior paper, I came across a study done by Stanford professor Lera Boroditsky that looked at the different frameworks within English and Mandarin concerning how to express the abstract concept of time in spatial terms. Okay, now let’s unpack that. First, what do I mean “the abstract concept of time”? Well, I mean time as independent from the arbitrary measurements we impose on it. We measure time in hours, days, weeks, years, etc. for a reason–actually many different reasons. A year is, of course, the length of time it takes the planet to travel once in its elliptical path around the Sun. While a “day” is the length of time the Earth takes to make one rotation on its axis (which, to note, is not constant), how the day is subdivided is an ancient, arbitrary determination, with the roots of the 24-hour day lying in pharaonic Egypt. The concept of a seven-day week is primarily an outgrowth of Christian and Jewish beliefs concerning creation while other cultures have different week-lengths.

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