Kierkegaard on Time, the Fullness of the Moment, and How to Bridge the Ephemeral with the Eternal

“The moment is not properly an atom of time but an atom of eternity. It is the first reflection of eternity in time, its first attempt, as it were, at stopping time.”

“All eternity is in the moment,” Mary Oliver wrote with an indebted eye to Blake and Whitman. “[Is] only the present comprehended?” Patti Smith asked two decades later in her magnificent meditation on time and transformation.

This temporal tension between the immediate and the eternal is one of the core characteristics and defining frustrations of the human experience — over and over, we strain to locate ourselves within time, against time, grasping for solid ground while aswirl in its unstoppable flow. We struggle to hold it all with what Bertrand Russell called “a largeness of contemplation,” but we continually suffer at the smallness of our temporal existence — suffering reflected in our cultural fascination with time travel, which illuminates the central mystery of human consciousness.

How to inhabit the time-scale of our existence without suffering and fill the moment with eternity is what the great Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard (May 5, 1813–November 11, 1855) explores in a portion of his 1844 classic The Concept of Anxiety, later included in the indispensable volume The Essential Kierkegaard (public library).

Søren Kierkegaard

A century before Borges’s famous proclamation — “time is the substance I am made of”— and more than a century and a half before Einstein revolutionized human thought by annealing our two primary modes of existence to one another in the single entity of spacetime, Kierkegaard writes:

Man … is a synthesis of psyche and body, but he is also a synthesis of the temporal and the eternal.

Centuries before physicist came to explore the science of why we can’t remember the future, Kierkegaard probes our familiar temporal ordering of events and experiences:

If time is correctly defined as an infinite succession, it most likely is also defined as the present, the past, and the future. This distinction, however, is incorrect if it is considered to be implicit in time itself, because the distinction appears only through the relation of time to eternity and through the reflection of eternity in time. If in the infinite succession of time a foothold could be found, i.e., a present, which was the dividing point, the division would be quite correct. However, precisely because every moment, as well as the sum of the moments, is a process (a passing by), no moment is a present, and accordingly there is in time neither present, nor past, nor future. If it is claimed that this division can be maintained, it is because the moment is spatialized, but thereby the infinite succession comes to a halt, it is because representation is introduced that allows time to be represented instead of being thought. Even so, this is not correct procedure, for even as representation, the infinite succession of time is an infinitely contentless present (this is the parody of the eternal).


The present, however, is not a concept of time, except precisely as something infinitely contentless, which again is the infinite vanishing. If this is not kept in mind, no matter how quickly it may disappear, the present is posited, and being posited it again appears in the categories: the past and the future.

The eternal, on the contrary, is the present. For thought, the eternal is the present in terms of an annulled succession (time is the succession that passes by). For representation, it is a going forth that nevertheless does not get off the spot, because the eternal is for representation the infinitely contentful present. So also in the eternal there is no division into the past and the future, because the present is posited as the annulled succession.

Time is, then, infinite succession; the life that is in time and is only of time has no present. In order to define the sensuous life, it is usually said that it is in the moment and only in the moment. By the moment, then, is understood that abstraction from the eternal that, if it is to be the present, is a parody of it. The present is the eternal, or rather, the eternal is the present, and the present is full…




Raising good robots

Resultado de imagem para Gael Rougegrez of the Blanca Li Dance Company performs ‘Robot’, 22 February 2017 in London, England. Photo by Ian Gavan/Getty

Image edited by Web Investigator- Gael Rougegrez of the Blanca Li Dance Company performs ‘Robot’, 22 February 2017 in London, England. Photo by Ian Gavan/Getty

We already have a way to teach morals to alien intelligences: it’s called parenting. Can we apply the same methods to robots?

Regina Rini is an assistant professor and faculty fellow at the New York University Center for Bioethics, and an affiliate faculty member in the Medical Ethics division of the NYU Department of Population Health.


Intelligent machines, long promised and never delivered, are finally on the horizon. Sufficiently intelligent robots will be able to operate autonomously from human control. They will be able to make genuine choices. And if a robot can make choices, there is a real question about whether it will make moral choices. But what is moral for a robot? Is this the same as what’s moral for a human?

Philosophers and computer scientists alike tend to focus on the difficulty of implementing subtle human morality in literal-minded machines. But there’s another problem, one that really ought to come first. It’s the question of whether we ought to try to impose our own morality on intelligent machines at all. In fact, I’d argue that doing so is likely to be counterproductive, and even unethical. The real problem of robot morality is not the robots, but us. Can we handle sharing the world with a new type of moral creature?

We like to imagine that artificial intelligence (AI) will be similar to humans, because we are the only advanced intelligence we know. But we are probably wrong. If and when AI appears, it will probably be quite unlike us. It might not reason the way we do, and we could have difficulty understanding its choices.

In 2016, a computer program challenged Lee Sedol, humanity’s leading player of the ancient game of Go. The program, a Google project called AlphaGo, is an early example of what AI might be like. In the second game of the match, AlphaGo made a move – ‘Move 37’ – that stunned expert commenters. Some thought it was a mistake. Lee, the human opponent, stood up from the table and left the room. No one quite knew what AlphaGo was doing; this was a tactic that expert human players simply did not use. But it worked. AlphaGo won that match, as it had the game before and the next game. In the end, Lee won only a single game out of five.

AlphaGo is very, very good at Go, but it is not good in the same way that humans are. Not even its creators can explain how it settles on its strategy in each game. Imagine that you could talk to AlphaGo and ask why it made Move 37. Would it be able to explain the choice to you – or to human Go experts? Perhaps. Artificial minds needn’t work as ours do to accomplish similar tasks.

In fact, we might discover that intelligent machines think about everything, not just Go, in ways that are alien us. You don’t have to imagine some horrible science-fiction scenario, where robots go on a murderous rampage. It might be something more like this: imagine that robots show moral concern for humans, and robots, and most animals… and also sofas. They are very careful not to damage sofas, just as we’re careful not to damage babies. We might ask the machines: why are you so worried about sofas? And their explanation might not make sense to us, just as AlphaGo’s explanation of Move 37 might not make sense.

This line of thinking takes us to the heart of a very old philosophical puzzle about the nature of morality. Is it something above and beyond human experience, something that applies to anyone or anything that could make choices – or is morality a distinctly human creation, something specially adapted to our particular existence?

Long before robots, the ancient Greeks had to grapple with the morality of a different kind of alien mind: the teenager. The Greeks worried endlessly about how to cultivate morality in their youth. Plato thought that our human concept of justice, like all human concepts, was a pale reflection of some perfect form of Justice. He believed that we have an innate acquaintance with these forms, but that we understand them only dimly as children. Perhaps we will encounter pure Justice after death, but the task of philosophy is to try to reason our way back to these truths while we are still living…



Do Aliens Have Inalienable Rights?


SELF-AWARE SEA LIFE?: Peter Godfrey-Smith has said that an octopus is “probably the closest we will come to meeting an intelligent alien.”Sylke Rohrlach / Wikipedia

What ET teaches us about our moral obligations.

Last January I was walking with my granddaughter along a beach near Melbourne when we noticed several people gathered around a rock pool, peering into the water. Wondering what had attracted their attention, we went over and saw that it was an octopus. If the spectators were interested in it, it also seemed interested in them. It came to the edge of the pool, one of its eyes directed at the people above, and stretched a tentacle out of the water, as if offering to shake hands. No one took up the offer but at least no one tried to capture the animal or turn it into calamari. That was pleasing because, as Peter Godfrey-Smith says in his recent book Other Minds: The Octopus, the Sea, and the Deep Origins of Consciousness, an octopus is “probably the closest we will come to meeting an intelligent alien.”

If we do ever meet an intelligent alien, even a tasty one, I hope we have sufficient ethical awareness to think of more than pleasing our palates or filling our stomachs. My view that this would be the wrong way to respond to such an encounter, however, leads to a deeper question: What moral status would extra-terrestrials have? Would we have obligations to them? Would they have rights? And would our answers depend on their intelligence?

These questions bring to mind Steven Spielberg’s celebrated 1982 movie E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial.  In case you haven’t seen the film, it features a friendly extraterrestrial who lands on Earth with some colleagues on a botanical research expedition and is accidentally left behind. E.T. is befriended by Elliott, a 10-year-old boy, and soon shows that he has a full range of human-like feelings, including homesickness. He also has greater compassion for other species than most humans do. In one memorable scene, Elliott, moved by feelings that come from E.T., liberates the frogs in his biology class.

I use E.T. as a thought-experiment to challenge students to reconsider their speciesism—the still widely held assumption that the boundary of our species is also the boundary of beings with rights, or with interests that we ought to take seriously. So far, the only nonhumans we have encountered are animals, plants, fungi, and microscopic living things such as protozoans, bacteria, algae, and spirochetes. When we consider the moral status of these organisms, our thinking is likely to be biased by our own interests in using them, especially as sources of food, or in avoiding being made ill by them.

This is clearest when we think about how we ought to treat nonhuman animals. We have deeply embedded customs of killing and eating animals and using their skins for fur and leather.  Many people can hardly imagine a meal without meat or other animal products. Religious and philosophical thinkers are as susceptible to bias as other people, and so most of them have justified this practice. In doing so, these thinkers have dug a broad gulf in our minds between ourselves and nonhuman animals. Even the term “nonhuman animals” sounds odd, because it implies that we are animals. It should not sound odd at all, because we have known, ever since Darwin, that we are animals. Yet we persist in thinking that we are a separate creation, that we alone are made in the image of God, or that we alone have an immortal soul.

It might be difficult to tell whether extraterrestrial life forms are capable of suffering or experiencing happiness.

E.T. challenges the moral significance of the species boundary both because we recognize in him a being with feelings very like ours, and because we have no prejudice against him based on a history of eating his kind, putting them in circuses for our amusement, or using them as beasts of burden. So if I ask my students, “Would it have been ethically permissible for scientists to kill E.T. and dissect him for the purposes of what would surely be extremely interesting scientific research?” they unanimously reject that idea. Some things that we could do to harm aliens, they concede, are wrong. If they accept that, then they must also accept that the sphere of proper ethical concern is not limited to members of the species Homo sapiens.

Accepting that it would be wrong to kill and dissect E.T. is a first step in exploring our ethical obligations to extraterrestrial life, but it does not take us very far. Perhaps we have ethical obligations only to beings who have a high level of intelligence, self-awareness, or communicative ability, and if we ever discover extraterrestrial life lacking in these qualities, we will have no obligations to them.

Once the species-barrier has been breached, however, it is not so easy to fall back on the requirement that a being pass some threshold for cognitive abilities in order to have rights. For then we have to consider human beings who fail that test—as both human infants, and humans with profound intellectual disability, do. Surely they have interests that need to be considered, whether or not they possess, or have the potential to develop, higher cognitive capacities…




Goldman Sachs Claims Propping Up ‘The Economy is Great!’, Funds Syrian War

by Christina Sarich, Guest Waking Times

The age of parasitic capitalism still hasn’t sputtered to its final death. Among the larger players is Goldman Sachs, the very same megabank that the oligarchs use to fund terrorism – like the latest foray into Syria. Goldman Sachs is known for money laundering, billion-dollar-lobbying for the ease of punishment for corporations who launder said money, drug pushing, defrauding investors, war profiteering, and now, outright lying in order to keep their grimy claws on as much government-baptized cash as possible.

Annual bonuses to the Goldman Sachs’ elite were recently topped off at $23 billion, but that still isn’t enough funny money to keep the masses hysterical and dazed. Goldman Sachs’ top lawyer is also accused of being the cabal’s go-to guy when the natives get restless, but to keep the rhetoric around a great economy – restored by a certain president in charge, we’re now expected to ignore a sick and lackluster economy based on Goldman Sachs’ charts and graphs. But there’s another story unfolding which even evil bankers can’t corrupt.

Goldman just tried to justify a collapse in loan growth, which has reached its slowest pace in 6 years. It is expected to peter out completely soon. When no one is taking out loans, it’s because no one is making money and they can’t qualify for them.

Banks need us to borrow money, because that’s how they earn usury-level interest rates based on the fractional banking system. Unless they are planning to collapse an economy completely, they need to maintain loan rates and employment at a certain level so that we will continue to “agree to our own confinement,” as Dr. Brad Evans explains it in this amazing interview with Russell Brand:

In order to perpetuate a certain illusion, Goldman is trying to paint a rosy picture concerning the financial climate while we are observing the worst mortgage applications number since the 90s financial crisis. U.S. consumer demand for mortgages imploded at a pace indicative of an outright recession.

Despite this, the Fed is hiking rates further which will also crash the housing market – all as it has been designed to do. We’re supposed to believe the Great Recession that began 8 years ago is ending, and that the economy is recovering enough for the Federal Reserve Chair to implement its second rate-hike in just a few months – but what we’ve got is a false market, propped up with the usual criminal shenanigans of Goldman, the Fed and other key financial manipulators.

The Fed conveniently waited until after US elections to raise the rates. Why? What are they really trying to do – especially now that we’re all being dragged into WWIII? As Dr. Ron Paul has stated, more than $16-trillion-worth of transactions have been conducted with overseas banks. Foreign banks are a major recipient of Federal Bank Funds. This is part of the reason so many people want to audit the Fed. It is likely that with a full audit, the money trail for the current warmongering situation would be exposed. Dr. Paul says,

“The reason to have an audit is to find out what they’re hiding. The information they’re most protective of are the details of where many trillions of dollars used in the bailout went, and what the collateral was.”

He continues, “We want to know the details of what the agreements were,” Paul says, “and whether any of that money will be recouped.”

And more importantly, why do banks like Goldman and the Feds keep pushing war to prop up their false fronts? The Fed has already publicly admitted to rigging the stock market, and we know that Goldman Sachs is overrun with criminals. If we follow the money – it becomes very clear who is funding terror in the world today.

Considering there is now circulating, a declassified CIA memo which planned for a Syrian Regime collapse as early as 1986 – you have to wonder what money has changed hands?

About the Author
Christina Sarich is a staff writer for Waking Times. She is a writer, musician, yogi, and humanitarian with an expansive repertoire. Her thousands of articles can be found all over the Internet, and her insights also appear in magazines as diverse as Weston A. Price, NexusAtlantis Rising, and the Cuyamungue Institute, among others.
This article (Goldman Sachs Claims Propping Up ‘The Economy is Great!’, Funds Syrian War) was originally created and published by The Mind Unleashed and is re-posted here with permission.