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The Lapse Fallacy -- Why Time Doesn't Matter Much in Logic & Philosophy

Updated: Jun 2

Remembering Like a Crow: Why Time Does Not Erase Me

One can compare us humans to birds. Some, like penguins, are earthbound, their wings aren't exactly instruments of flight. Others, like swallows and albatrosses, paint the skies with their travels, effortlessly traversing continents. Vultures, the opportunists, scan the landscape for the leavings of greater predators. And then, there are those like myself, the crows – not in physical form, of course, but in our minds. We remember, and remember well. The slightest of stings, the warmest of gestures... the details that others let fade, as they overlook them.

Now, I am no bird expert, and this analogy is just that – a metaphorical display of personhood. It serves a purpose. Just like birds, we humans come in a great variety of shapes, sizes, and talents. Some ride on the wings of ambition, while others content themselves with paddling through life's lakes below the skies. Some forget as readily as a sparrow hops from branch to branch, while others, like myself, hold memories close, a precious collection in the attic of the mind. We do so for it is most useful to us.

So, when someone tells me to simply "forget" something or someone, to let time erase the scars, I'm too reluctant. Why, in the pursuit of wisdom, would I consider the passage of time a worthy feature? Forgetting, like a closed book, can be convenient, but it also shuts out the lessons learned, the wisdom that can be gained, learnt, and shared to the world. It is a tool for those who are unwilling to face the adversity of the past. It's one too willing in its removal of memory's treasures.

Why the Past Contains Wisdom, Even in The Most Distant of Decades

Socrates, it could be argued, drank poison not as a society-defying martyr, but as a testament to his own philosophy. He chose death over hypocrisy, demonstrating the weight he placed on intellectual integrity. While millennia have passed since his death, the wisdom which resonated from his life and choice remains potent.

This enduring power of the past is what I call the Lapse Fallacy: the flawed assumption that merely because time has elapsed, something's relevance necessarily diminishes.

A month, a year, even centuries – the true measure of worth lies not in age, but in the lessons we can extract from each and every moment, in the name of the truth and its clarity. Faith holds ancient scriptures as relics, guiding lights across generations. For us Jews, the memory of both ancient and contemporary antisemitism fueled the need for a national identity, leading in the birth of Israel after British rule left in the 1940s.

As a writer, I find myself drawn to the 19th-century Yiddish author Shalom Rabinovich, better known as Shalom Aleichem. Though criticized as verbose, his style resonates deeply with me, offering a timeless efficiency in communication who contributed to my own writing. Though I delve into Hebrew translations (for I know not Yiddish), the general enthusiasm in his writings fuels my own.

A schoolyard wall once whispered a wisdom that still echoes in my mind: "The people who forget their past, their future is doomed in fog." It is this recognition of the past's wisdom, accessible to all, that arguably serves as a safeguard against another Holocaust.

In Israel, our Independence Day celebrations are not without uncanny predecessors: Holocaust Memorial Day, followed by a day to honor fallen soldiers and victims of terror. Only then, with the weight of history acknowledged, do we celebrate our sovereignty, a pain-induced celebration against past vulnerabilities.

Even a thousand years won't erase the chilling truth: millions perished in WWII. My own great-grandfather's family was lost, and I carry their memory with profound gratitude. For without his enduring hope, a chain of lives, including mine, would never have come to be. An entire clan to be precise.

Human existence is woven with threads from countless generations, each life a feature constructing the vast chronology of history. The chance of YOU, specifically, coming into being required an indefinite amount of interactions between ancestors. Not just parents and grandparents, but a vast network of choices and experiences stretching back across the ages. Disccarding any of these choices and experiences can, on the very, very long run, discard the importance of many future events unfolding from potential to reality!

While the temptation of "letting bygones be bygones" is understandable, it is in the embrace of the past, its lessons and legacies, that we find the truest understanding of ourselves, others, and the world we inhabit. Socrates, though countless centuries dead, remains a hallmark of philosophical inquiry, reminding us of the power of living a life aligned with our values, even in the face of adversity. Forgetting even the smallest of events that can lead to a greater events in importance, can easily be a logical disservice to said greater events.

But we won't necessarily understand that if we lack expertise in logic, and/or if we lack long-term planning. For nothing lies in a vacuum. For everything is part of an endless stream of time, building an ever-growing complex of chains of events.

Why Memories, Like Crows, Defy the Lapse

Likewise, when a certain individual dared to dismiss me as irrelevant, the passage of years holds no relevancy for the sting of those words. Like the crow, I hold fast to memory, its grip unyielding to the passage of time. For if I agreed with her, I would have been likelier to kill myself in despair, succumbing to the Reaping Fatigue at the time.

My unrelenting hold is driven by something deeper than mere sentiment. Within the crow, I believe, beats a powerful urge that transcends the temporary. A low but spine-chilling voice: "Remember this one, for their path may cross yours again." It is not the speaker's identity that truly matters, but the echoes of their actions/words, resonating in the chambers of my mind. I do not operate under ad-hominem. I operate under logic and words.

A cornerstone of philosophy, and thus its relevancy, lies within its defiance of time's tyranny. Unlike other disciplines, bound by the currents of progress and discovery, philosophy's wisdom transcends centuries. The most ancient texts, the voices of long-gone people, retain their potency, for it is the content, not the and not their creator, that dictates their insightful worth.

Grasp this truth, and you take a giant leap towards the heart of philosophical inquiry. Start by understanding how irrelevant time is in philosophy.

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Tomasio A. Rubinshtein, Philosocom's Founder & Writer

I am a philosopher from Israel, author of several books in 2 languages, and Quora's Top Writer of the year 2018. I'm also a semi-hermit who has decided to dedicate his life to writing and sharing my articles across the globe. Several podcasts on me, as well as a radio interview, have been made since my career as a writer. More information about me can be found here.

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