Time: Non‐Western Views

  • C. K. Raju
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4020-4425-0_8898

Time is a difficult notion, since time beliefs underlie a variety of seemingly unrelated areas like (1) scientific theory, (2) philosophy of science, (3) religious beliefs about the nature of life after death, and consequently about the soul (4) human values and the (5) nature of language and logic, etc. These various time beliefs may or may not cohere with each other.

The structure of the English language, unlike that of the Hopi (American Indian) language, presupposes that time and space are entirely separate entities, and this makes it hard to understand the intermingling of time and space in relativity theory. As another example, the Buddhist Dhamma (ethics, way of life) is closely connected to the Buddha's concept of paticca samuppāda, or conditioned coorigination, the proper understanding of which requires the concept of a structured time, in which the instants of time are not featureless geometrical points. This notion of a structured time is incompatible with the two‐valued...

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  1. For the structure of the Hopi language see: B. Whorf, An American Indian model of the universe. The Philosophy of Time. R. M. Gale ed. Macmillan, London, 1968, 378–86. The relation of paticca samuppāda to the logic of structured time is covered in: C. K. Raju. The transformation of time in tradition, chapter 11 in: The Eleven Pictures of Time, New Delhi: Sage, 2003. For a more formal description of structured time and its relation to quasi truth‐functional logic in the context of quantum mechanics see: C. K. Raju. Quantum mechanical time, chapter 6b in Time: Towards a Consistent Theory, Kluwer Academic, Dordrecht, 1994. This latter book also contains an account of the clash between different notions of time assumed in “different” areas of knowledge like science, and the philosophy of science in “Mundane time”, chapter 8, and also an account of how changing time beliefs leads to a new type of equations (functional differential equations) in chapter 5b, “Electrodynamic time”. For some more information about those equations, and a solution see C. K. Raju. The electrodynamic two body problem and the origin of quantum mechanics, Foundations of Physics 34 (2004) pp. 937–62. The proof of the Poincaré recurrence theorem may be found in any text on thermodynamics, and the proof of a very general version is in “Thermodynamic time”, chapter 4 in Time: Towards a Consistent Theory, along with an account of the difficulties in calculating the Poincaré recurrence time.Google Scholar
  2. The relation of cosmic recurrence to early beliefs about the soul is explained in “Life after death”, chapter 1 in The Eleven Pictures of Time. The glossary of this book also contains a definition of the term “West” in terms of religious beliefs, according to the classification proposed by Arnold Toynbee and used by Samuel Huntington. Origen's argument relating cosmic recurrence to equity and justice is in Origen, De Principiis, Book II, chapter 9. Frederick Crombie, trans., The Writings of Origen, vol. X in Ante Nicene Christian Library, ed. Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson, T&T Clark, Edinburgh, 1895, p. 136. The quote from Origen (which shows that Origen believed in quasi‐recurrence, and not exact or eternal recurrence, as Augustine maintained) can also be found in the online text of De Principiis, chapter on “On the Beginning of the World and its Causes”. This chapter is numbered somewhat differently in the different online versions. It is IV‐5 in the New Advent version at http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/04122.htm, while it is II.3.5 according to the Catholic Encyclopaedia. Augustine's argument against Origen is in XI.3 et seq. of Augustine, The City of God, in Augustine, trans. Marcus Dods, vol. 18 in Great Books of the Western World, ed. R. M. Hutchins, Encyclopaedia Britannica, Chicago, 1952. For a discussion of this argument, and its relation to Hawking's chronology condition, see: C. K. Raju. “The curse on ‘cyclic’ time”, chapter 2 in The Eleven Pictures of Time. For the relation of this curse to current resolutions of the grandfather paradox of time travel, and for an alternative resolution, see C. K. Raju, “Time travel and the reality of spontaneity”, Foundations of Physics July 2006 (in press), draft at http://philsci‐archive.pitt.edu/archive/00002416/01/Time_Travel_and_the_Reality_of_Spontaneity.pdf
  3. The Buddha's rejection of the law of the excluded middle is in the Brahmajāla sutta: Dīgha Nikāya, (Hindi trans.) Rahul Sānkrityāyana and Jagdish Kāshyapa, Parammitra Prakashan, Delhi, 2000. (English trans.) Maurice Walshe, Wisdom Publication, Boston, 1995. For Nāgārjuna's rejection of the law of the excluded middle, in defence of his Middle Way, see his Mūlamādhyamakkārikā, trans. David J. Kalupahana, Nāgārjuna, SUNY Press, New York, 1986. For Jaina logic etc., see further, the article on logic in this Encyclopaedia, and chapter 11 in The Eleven Pictures of Time.Google Scholar
  4. For al‐Ghazālī's attack on the notion of cause used by the philosophers see S. A. Kamali, Al‐Ghazālī, Tahāfut al‐Falāsifā, Pakistan Philosophical Congress, Lahore, 1958. S. van den Bergh, Averröes’ Tahāfut al‐Tahāfut (incorporating al‐Ghazālī's Tahāfut al‐Falāsifā) translated with introduction and notes, 2 vols, Luzac, London, 1969. For a summary account of his arguments in a current context, and for more details about ontically broken time, and its relation to epistemically broken time derived from theories of chaos etc. see “Broken time: chance, chaos, complexity” chapter 6 in The Eleven Pictures of Time.Google Scholar

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