Basics of Time

Whereas our concept of space seems well established, perhaps ‘hard-wired’ into our brains, time is altogether more elusive. Since Aristotle (or even before), the nature of time has been a source of contention among philosophers, both pure and natural.

Mainstream Economics employs a restricted view of time, which in turn leads to a simplified analysis of long-term developments. This holds particularly for the interplay between nature and the economy. Ecological Economics, in contrast, employs a wider view of time.

This concept introduces several conceptions of time, tracing the line from ancient philosophy to political decision-making. Chronos, which can be found in Aristotle’s and Newton’s writings, reflects a linear, objective understanding and is at the core of the modern scientific world view. Kairos, adopted from the name of a Greek God, signifies the right moment to act, meaning a subjective interpretation of when to act with limited knowledge or even in the face of ignorance. Both chronos and kairos are important to understand and make use of the inherent dynamics of evolutionary processes.

This concept argues that this broad view of time culminates in a stocks perspective which provides an indispensable tool for political advisors and decision-makers.

Our first example comes from Tolstoy’s War and Peace in which patience and time lead to an outcome that seemed impossible at the outset. The second example concerns German water policy where a slow build-up of production stocks leads to social support of the innovative policy and ultimately to the long-term protection of water.

Key Contributers: Peter BernholzWerner BögeFriedrich BreyerKarin FrankAlexander GerybadzeWerner GüthJohann IrsiglerHans-Jürgen JakschFrank JöstBernd KlauerMarco Lehmann-WaffenschmidtGerhard MaierIngo PellengahrThomas PetersenMartin QuaasWinfried ReißMatthias RuthJohannes SchillerArmin SchmutzlerStefan SpeckGunther StephanErnst-Ludwig von ThaddenRalph WinklerFranz Josef Wodopia