We measure a second as the time taken for some n number of cycles of the radiation that gets an atom of caesium 133 to vibrate between two energy states. Basically we have defined time, more precisely all of the fundamental quantities, on the basis of repetition of something. Some predefined standards have been set so as to stage the act of explaining the phenomena in nature.

Now just imagine that the scientists who say that the absolute thing is Time. All other quantities are dependent on time. Now, just think about the concept on which time is built on. A scheme of repetition comes into play. What we actually see is that all the quantities sustain each other. Now suppose you just now have taken birth in deep deep deep deep deep deep deep space where there is apparently nothing. There is nothing absolutely nothing all around. You constantly try to move forward or backward in any one particular direction. Will you be able to reach anywhere? Will the concept of time still hold. Or will we need something else to define it. So don’t you think so that time is also dependent on something else.

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3 Answers 3


This has a family resemblence to the Machian conception of physics. Mach suggested that mass was related to the rest of the mass in the universe because he argued in a world where there is only a single particle it would have no mass. This conception was taken up by Einstein though its arguable whether Machs conception of mass is incorported into General Relativity.

Aristotle had a similar argument for the motion of a particle in a void. He argued in such a world that the particle would move in all ways at once. He then said that this wasn't plable and hence ruled out the possibility of a void. This argument is prescient in that in QM a particle indeed moves in all directions at once.

I'm not aware of any physicist that has given a similar argument to yourself. However, Julian Barbour argues for a timeless world. He suggests that time is an emergent phenomena and change is more basic.


This is probably a physics question more than a philosophy question, but the (not so) simple answer is that space and time are indeed related. This concept of space-time stems from the idea that the universe operates in a 4 dimensional construct, with 3 primary axes defining physical direction, and the last one defining time.

Perhaps one of the best descriptions I've seen of how this works was in Richard Feynmann's '6 (Not So) Easy Pieces', which presented some of his 'edited' lectures on physical topics, one of which describes relativity and that touches quite strongly on the nature of time in our environment.

To go into the specifics mentioned in your example though; with no phenomena around us to observe, a human mind without the benefit of learning that we all take for granted would have no conceptual framework for time, and would be incapable of understanding it the way we do. There's nothing from which to derive concepts of cause and effect or any other time dependent concept. That said, just because such a human could not perceive time doesn't mean that time doesn't exist for that human. We all breathe for several years before learning what air is, for instance.

This is similar to a thought experiment I use to describe the difference between consciousness and intelligence; storing 20 years worth of knowledge and experience on a HDD does not make the HDD conscious, or even intelligent. On the other hand, putting a newborn human in a sensory deprivation chamber for 20 years leaves you with a conscious person with absolutely no intelligence. The difference here is that the human has the capacity to learn, but is starting from scratch the moment he or she is thrust back into a real world.

So it is with this question. Putting a human in an environment devoid of stimuli merely restricts the human's opportunity to learn about time, not his or her capacity to learn about time if stimuli are reintroduced. In such a circumstance, it's not time itself which is removed, merely the observable phenomena from which the mind can learn about it.


Yes I believe time is an absolute quantity, but that is my personal choice, and we can only measure time in relation to other physical phenomena.

The current SI definition of the second, as highlighted in the question, is the number of cycles of a particular type of light. This was a profound choice because it dictates that the rate of time is variable with location, while removing the possibility for the speed of light to ever change.

The original SI definition of the second was based on a fraction of one rotation of Earth about its axis. This was just as profound and very different in meaning as it allowed for variations in the speed of light, but suffered from the lack of consistency in the time of Earth's rotation.

Physicists tend to relate the rate of time with the rate of aging, and the rate at which light based clocks tick. In doing so they generally assert that the speed of light is constant and time is variable across space and time, which fits in well with the current SI definition. That is a matter of choice, and it is equally valid to consider time to be constant across space and time, and the speed of light to be variable, that fits in well with the original SI definition.

  • If you have any references they would help support your answer and give the reader a place to go for more information. For example are there others who have similar views? Apr 27, 2019 at 18:17

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