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What Do We Mean When We Call Something Timeless?

Updated on July 31, 2016

What is it that we mean exactly when we say that something is timeless? A piece of music for instance, or an epic film of some sort.

These are usually the things we would label as the archetypes of our collective consciousness; from hits by The Beatles or films by Stanley Kubrick to the Communist Manifesto by Friedrich Engels and Karl Marx or The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith. These are the greatest ideas and concepts that have shaped our beliefs, our economy, contemporary culture and employment and education.

An idea is developed, publicly and culturally endorsed and then it becomes a 'timeless' construct of our social structure. And that's how we evolve intellectually; symbolising, conceptualising, delivering the behaviours based on the concepts and then responding to the feedback.

Our current political system, for example, is based on the Ancient Greek system of Democracy (dēmokratía) or 'rule of the people'. An idea so encapsulating and inspiring that it has since become a globally recognised, and in some cases insisted upon, system of politics that allows citizens of a society to vote to elect representatives to speak on their behalf on matters of public interest. As we all know.

Another example would be music. The most popular form of music today derives from a centuries old structure we now know as 'Classical' music. Our 'Pop' music is based on a verse-chorus-verse/bridge-chorus format and will usually always harmonise within a certain key or relative key. These are structures and patterns of music that have mainly derived from the Classical era and we have been doing it this way for centuries.

Once, as a society, we collectively accept and endorse an idea it seems that the idea then transcends time and space all together. It becomes a continuance and therefore we collectively immortalise it and in the end, more often than not, we ultimately idolise it, like some sort of ideological Demi-God of the time. Like psychology or law for instance. Psychologists and lawyers are often held in a higher regard than priests these days and it's because they represent a new 'timeless' idea that now competes with older 'timeless' ideas that were added to our social construct, like religion or philosophy.

So then, with this in mind, is it safe to assume that time is also something we construct in our minds in the same way as these 'timeless' ideas? After all, if we can make a concept, that we base certain behaviours on, a 'timeless' concept then doesn't that in turn mean that all of society's behavioural concepts are purely constructs of our minds and we, in each instance, give credence to its relativity to time based on our perception?

If we can choose to take the context of time away from an idea in our minds simply because we like the idea then surely it's just the same for all of our thinking, right?


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