On Time​

The Formula



The Existence of time

- If then, in order to be time at all, the present is so made that it passes into the past, how can we say that this present we cannot truly say that time exists except in the sense that it tends towards non-existence. (Saint Augustine - Confessions (Oxford) p.231)

The Constitution of time

Then it may compare eternity with temporal successiveness which never has any constancy, and will see there is no comparison possible. It will see that a long time is long only because it constitutes of many successive movements that cannot be simultaneously extended. In the eternal, nothing is transient, but the whole is present. But no time is wholly present. It will see that all past time is driven backward by the future, and all future time is the consequence of the past, and all past and future are created and set on their course by that which is always present. (Saint Augustine - Confessions (Oxford) p.229)

The effect of time 

Time is not inert. It does not roll on through our senses without affecting us. Its passing has remarkable effects on the mind. See: it came and went ‘from day to day’, and by its coming and going it implanted in me new hopes and other experiences to be remembering. (Saint Augustine - Confessions (Oxford) p.60)

What are the future and the past?

So the future, which does not exist, is not a long period of time. A long future is a long expectation of the future. And the past, which has no existence, is not along a period of time. A long past is a long memory of the past.  (Saint Augustine - Confessions (Oxford) p.243)

Time does not consist of nows, a line does not consist of points, and a change does not consist of discrete change. (Aristotle Physics Oxford p.145)


There is a “now” in the future and a “now” in the past. These arguments make it clear that there is something indivisible in time, and this is what we call the now. (Aristotle Physics Oxford p.145)

What is the present time?

The present moment persistently underlies time, altering state continuously; just as time corresponds to movement [of the heaves], the present corresponds to what moves, which remains in substance the same throughout time though it alters its positions, first here then there, and by altering its position, moves. Time consists of the passing of the present moment as its alters state. Eternity, however, remains unchanged both in substance and in state and thus differs from the present of time. (Aquinas - Selected Philosophical Writings (Oxford) p.213)

The beginning and end of time

Every moment passes but not all pass from one state to another: the last moment of time passes only from a state, and the first moment only into one. (Aquinas - Selected Philosophical Writings (Oxford) p.269)

Where is time?

The parts of a plane join together at some common boundary. Body, Time, and place are also of this kind. For the present time joins on to both past time and future time. (Aristotle Categories and Interpretation Oxford p.13)

Time is simply that which is between two nows (Aristotle Physics Oxford p.xlv)



What is Time?

Time is a distension/expansion

Nevertheless, even so, we have not reached a reliable measure of time. It may happen that a short line if pronounced slowly, takes longer to read aloud than a longer line taken faster. The same principle applies to a poem or a foot or a syllable. That is why I have come to think that time is simply distension. (Saint Augustine - Confession (Oxford) p.240)

Just as sand dunes are always drifting over one another and canceling what came before, see in life also, what comes earlier is very swiftly hidden by all that piles up afterward. (Marcus Aurelius - Meditations p.63)

Time is cyclical

Pythagoras believed that  “after certain periods of time the things that have happened once happen again and nothing is absolutely new” 

Time an infinite matter

All that remains of our existence is not actually life but merely time. (Seneca - Dialogues and Essays Oxford p.141)

Time is infinite. (Aristotle Metaphysics Penguin p.345)


Time is not changing, but at the same time, it does not exist without change. (Aristotle Physics Oxford p.105)

Time is continuous thanks to the now but is also divided at the now because this too follows the nature of the movement and the moving objects. The point is that the change and the movement are units because the moving obj. is a unity. (Aristotle Physics Oxford p.107)

Evidently, then, time is a number of changes in respect of before and after; and because it is a number of something continuous, it is continuous. (Aristotle Physics Oxford  p.108)

We measure change by time and time by change. (Aristotle Physics Oxford p.109)


For there is an order controlling all things, and every time (i.e. every life) is measured by a period. (Aristotle On Generation and Corruption  p.62)

Eternal Time

“Its life may be infinitely long, but it does not embrace and comprehend its whole extent simultaneously. It still lacks the future, while already having lost the past. So that that which embraces and possesses simultaneously the whole fullness of everlasting life, which lacks nothing of the future and has lost nothing of the past, that is what may properly be said to be eternal. Of necessity it will always be present to itself, controlling itself, and have present the infinity of fleeting time. (Boethius - The Consolation of Philosophy (Penguin) p.133) 

What is Eternity?

According to Aristotle the present moment of time persists unchanged through time. But the nature of eternity seems to consist precisely in remaining unchangeably the same throughout the whole course of time. Eternity then must be the present moment of time. But the present moment of time is in substance identical with time itself. So eternity must be in substance identical with time. (Aquinas - Selected Philosophical Writings (Oxford) p.212) 

Human relation with time

Dominates time

Accordingly, the life of the philosopher has a wide scope, and he is not continued by the same boundaries like the rest of men: he alone is not shaken by the conditions of the human race, and all ages are his servants as if he were good. Should a period of time have passed, he embraces it in his memory; if it is present, he makes use of it; if it is to come, he anticipates it. By combining all times into one he makes his life a long one. (Seneca - Dialogues and Essays Oxford p.157) 

Bad relation with time

Always waiting

They lose the day in waiting for the night, and the night in dreading the day. (Seneca - Dialogues and Essays Oxford p.158)

The greatest obstacle to living expectations, which depends on tomorrow and wastes today. (Seneca - Dialogues and Essays Oxford p.148)


But those who forget the past, ignore the present, and fear the future have a life that is very brief and filled with anxiety. (Seneca - Dialogues and Essays Oxford p.157)

Waste of enjoyment

Anything that postpones what they hope for seems long to them. Yet that time they love is short-lived and swift, and it is their own fault that makes it much shorter: for they rush from one pleasure to another and cannot remain absorbed in a single passion. (Senec - Dialogues and Essays Oxford p.157)

Time flies

The great part of mankind, Paulinus, complains bitterly about the malice of Nature, in that we are born for a brief span of life, and even this allotted time rushes by so swiftly, so speedily, that with very few exceptions all find themselves abandoned by life just when they are preparing themselves to live. (Seneca - Dialogues and Essays oxford p.140)

So it is its unbroken and rapid journey of life, that we make at the same pace, whether awake or asleep: those who are busy with other things do not notice it until the end comes. (Seneca - Dialogues and Essays Oxford p.149)

Some lack any belief by which to steer their course, and are caught by fate listless and half-asleep, so much so that I cannot doubt the truth of what we find in the greatness of poets, delivered like an oracle: small is the part of life we really live”. (Seneca - Dialogues and Essays Oxford)

God’s relation with time

How God perceives Time

A convenient illustration may be drawn from space, since, according to Aristotle, the successiveness of time derives from that of change and movement, and that from extended successiveness in space. So if we imagine many people in front and behind them, according to their beforeness and afterness in space. And so each traveler will see the people next to him and the people in front, but not the people behind. But if someone is outside the whole traveling situation, standing in some high tower, for example, from which he can see the whole road, then he will have a bird’s-eye view of every traveler, not seeing them as in front and behind each other. Now since our knowledge occurs within time, either in itself or incidentally (so that when making propositional connections and disconnection we have to add tense, as Aristotle points out), things are known as present or past or future. Present events are known as actually existing perceptible to the senses in some way; past events are remembered, and future events are not known in themselves - because they don’t yet exist - but can be predicted from their causes. (Aquinas - Selected Philosophical Writings (Oxford) p. 282)