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Philosophy: What would you say this means?

"Could we now feel a million years concretely as we did a passing minute we should have very little employment of our conceptual faculty." - William James.

5 Answers

  • 2 months ago
    Favorite Answer

    He's basically just saying that there is a limit to how much you can process at once with respect to large periods of time.  Like, with a passing minute, you can experience everything very distinctly/clearly...but if you were to try to process a lifetime (or longer) of experience all at once, you wouldn't even be able to function.

  • 2 months ago

    I believe that James is talking about progress... likely the progress of 


    E.g. ".. WE SHOULD HAVE very little employment OF OUR 


    I think therefore he was in a moment of despair at his particular

    environment of (the progress of)  knowledge.

    After all it was not-so-modern as ours was it (?) what with very few

    people going to schools comparatively speaking, no fast & reliable

    communication system... but of course there was certainly access 

    to social media & POSSIBLE access to the library which we really

    know Now-As-the-History of limited philosophy as it was of the other 

    sparse & LIMITED, HOARDED knowledge of past environments (!)

    Having said that I'd also guess that in his critical mind at least William

    James (a true name unlike the Pipsqueek  Anons-of-Yahoo..) could

    foresee a more mature & a much more sensitive knowledge gathering in

    the long term (hence his guesstimate of "a million years")..


    Source(s): * A SENSITIVE source is one which TRANSCENDS this modern emergent & emergency ENVIRONMENT of which you are hopefully becoming aware of... (…& before A MILLION DAYS have passed, let us say !...) With megalomaniac's answer I am persuaded to say this..
  • j153e
    Lv 7
    2 months ago

    William James there seems to be a dualist, splitting empirical awareness and reflective concept-forming.  Kierkegaard resolved this dualism with his three concurrent spheres of existential (empirical) leading as refined "million year" experience to Aesthetics, Love, concept-forming refined to philosophy or ability to contemplate alternative concepts, and spiritualization or soul-realization, as Aesthetics and philosophy refine and climb Jacob's ladder of realization.

    Plato made a similar division, placing existential awareness below will-to-conceptualize (science, Dianoia), with a kind of educational Jacob's ladder of divine elective sorting leading to refinement of Guardians or Noetic philosophers (e.g., Plato).

    Kierkegaard's awareness balanced Love, Power (Will), and Wisdom in an upward, Knight of Faith spiral moving past the kantian divide of phenomena and Being, God, the great I Am.  Confucius stated he knew of the Being of Heaven, but that he had to demonstrate it (move up that Kierkegaardian ladder of divine triune ascent).

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  • 2 months ago

    It's hard to be sure when it's one badly expressed sentence taken out of context. Possibly it means that the speed we live at is well matched to our attention span and speed of thinking. If we had a much longer attention span, so that we could focus continually on the passage of time for a million years then our thought processes would be so slow and stable that we wouldn't be able to notice and contemplate things which happen over much shorter  time frames like an hour, a day, or a week.

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  • 2 months ago

    It's not worded very well in my opinion.  I would say that it means if you confuse a million years with a minute then you aren't thinking clearly.  Duh.

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