Time, Perspective, Madness

I once borrowed a friend’s copy of Habermas’ The Philosophical Discourse Of Modernity (1985)— a book of contemporary philosophy. I was a literature major, not philosophy, and I really struggled with the book. But there were a few ideas that resonated with me.

One was that of a modern reality of time. Habermas puts forward the notion of “Jetzeit”. The idea is that time moves in a particular manner, as experienced by people, in this modern world. We generally encounter a kind of “low” or “empty” time- filled with everyday commerce, interactions and events. On occasion, we come to experience a “sacred” or “holy” time– our profane lives are punctuated by these kinds of Messianic interventions.

A theory of mental illness might be, what if this experience with time is misinterpreted? What if a patient either applies the Messianic time to nearly all events, or refuses to apply it to any? That would result in the development of false ideas.

If you are sane, experiencing most of your life as this low time, and a mentally ill person tries to impress on you that every moment is extremely important, ardently sacred, that would seem strange to you, inaccurate, unreal– unhealthy.

A person who never has encounters with the sacred misunderstands peak events when they occur– again seeming unhealthy, missing important aspects of a whole existence.

Would it be possible for schizophrenics to learn of and accept Habermas’ model? I am sure it was his view that “Jetzeit” was reality, not just an opinion. It described our current modern mode. Therefore it would be helpful to be aware of this experience of time, and to try to share it with one another, and to accept it.

Author: mystified13

Sole member of Mystified and Mister Vapor.

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