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Can one waste time?

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Dan Bidewell
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I would like to know what people think about wasting time?

If someone decides to waste a resource they own - like food or fuel - then that is their choice. They are free to do what they want with their property. Waste, then, can be defended morally (at least this is the consensus reached in the "Is It Wrong to Waste Food" topic forum).

But what then of time?

Is man free to waste his time? Is he free to waste other's time? Can you "waste time"? Do any of us "have time" to waste?

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Clearly you are free to do what you want with your own time. But if you are at work and on the clock, I believe that would be immoral since you are being paid to do something that you not doing (i.e. work instead of surfing the Internet). You just said that people are free to waste a resource they own such as food or fuel, and time is a resource no different than those things.

Edited by skap35
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They are free to do what they want with their property. Waste, then, can be defended morally (at least this is the consensus reached in the "Is It Wrong to Waste Food" topic forum).
I hope that was not the consensus! It is not moral to do anything you whimsically feel like doing without any concern for its effect on your life. Having the right to do something does not make that moral.

If you define waste as the irrational use of resources (time or anything else), then waste is clearly immoral.

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Is man free to waste his time? Is he free to waste other's time? Can you "waste time"? Do any of us "have time" to waste?
I don't have much time to waste on this question. However, it's perfectly obvious that you can waste time, though what constitutes a waste of time differs from person to person. If I didn't understand what "wasting" meant, I might spend a couple hours constructing an essay in response, which might seem like a waste of time but could actually be of value to me because it would sharpen my understanding of the notion "waste". Working towards a goal and failing to reach that goal is usually considered a "waste of time" (as in, "That was just such a waste of time"), but that completely misconstrues what a "waste" is. I don't know how to waste time. Do you have an example of what you mean by "wasting time"?
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However, it's perfectly obvious that you can waste time, though what constitutes a waste of time differs from person to person... I don't know how to waste time.

So do you think you can waste time or not then? Or do you mean that for you, you cannot waste time?. Is this because you do not see any thing as a waste of time or because for you, you would not do something you considered to be a waste of time.

An example of wasting time would be doing nothing when you should be doing something - lying in the bed staring at the ceiling when you should be finishing an essay.

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An example of wasting time would be doing nothing when you should be doing something - lying in the bed staring at the ceiling when you should be finishing an essay.
That's not necessarily a waste of time, since writing involves (or should involve) thinking. I might lie in bed trying to remove certain distracting thoughts from my head, so that I could better focus on the paper. I don't really see that I should be writing that essay right now, as long as I get it done when it has to be done. I actually sort of should be working on a paper right now, but I need to clear up a few issues in my mind so I'm going to "waste" a bit of time doing this so that I can work more efficiently later. I don't think it's immoral to be inefficient. If you're asking "Should a person drift aimelessly through life, acting without purpose" then the answer is no. I don't think being a hyperactive always-on drone is a virtue, either. Does that help?
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I don't think there can be a waste of time. Use of time always has some kind of value assigned to it. (i.e. thinking about stuff when a paper needs to be written.) There is however, a mis-use of time (i.e. when you turn in your paper late, or not at all, because you stayed up late and partied instead of writing your paper that was due.)

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What exactly do you mean by this? Are you saying that being a workaholic is a bad thing?
Yes. I'm not saying that working hard is a bad thing, but being always panicked that you aren't getting enough done because you spent 5 minutes relaxing doesn't promote a flourishing life. There is a distinction between being productive and being obsessive, and I object to the latter. [bTW I certainly don't mean that people with a medical condition which leads to hyperactivity are evil or that having an obsessive disorder means you are bad, just that hyperactivity and obsession are not rational values so you shouldn't seek that kind of behavior]
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The irony of this thread is just overpowering . . .

And do you want to know what the besst thing about the irony is?

It wasn't intentional!

I don't think there can be a waste of time. Use of time always has some kind of value assigned to it. (i.e. thinking about stuff when a paper needs to be written.) There is however, a mis-use of time (i.e. when you turn in your paper late, or not at all, because you stayed up late and partied instead of writing your paper that was due.)

But all of us only have a finite amount of time, and if we spend some of it in pointless tasks, surely that is wasting it. Of course, we have to relax and we have to have fun, we can;t spend every waking moment in productive acheivement. But for someone to spend a significant proportion of their lives in an utterly pointless task, then surely that is a waste of their time.

And I wonder how that relates to waste of material things? Is wasting a resource wasting time by proxy - because you are wasting the time it took to produce the resource (to get the coal out of the ground, the oil out of the seabed). Or does it not matter anyway, seeing as you have paid for it?

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But all of us only have a finite amount of time, and if we spend some of it in pointless tasks, surely that is wasting it.

Pointless for whom? By what standard?

Of course, we have to relax and we have to have fun, we can;t spend every waking moment in productive acheivement. But for someone to spend a significant proportion of their lives in an utterly pointless task, then surely that is a waste of their time.

No, that would be a waste of their life and values. Time, really, has no bearing on it. Use of time reflects values, not waste.

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This thread is funny.

Ok. Here are my two cents:

You have about 28000 days to live from the day you were born. Time is, actually, the one commodity nobody can ever get enough of. So if you don't use it in your interests, then, yes, you are wasting your time. That's what wasting is. Not using it in your interest, mostly by lack of thinking. The same goes for wasting stuff. You wasted your money. This would all be fine if you would not die someday. Then you could just make money again and it wouldn't matter. But that money cost time to make. And that's something you will never ever get back. You can make money but you can't make time. So, as far as I see it. Time is the one thing you can really waste, because you have a limited amount of it.

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Pointless for whom? By what standard?

Pointless to the individual who is wasting said time, by objective standards.

No, that would be a waste of their life and values. Time, really, has no bearing on it. Use of time reflects values, not waste.

Time has every bearing, as it is the one common and finite resource which one has to use IN EVERY INSTANCE in which they act to gain or keep something they NEED. The use of time in a wasteful manner does not necessarily translate into poor values, though I would agree that it can be the case. However, it can also easily mean a person is evading the values he SHOULD be pursuing based on HIS needs, that he is consuming time acting counter to any of the values his life demands.

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You have about 28000 days to live from the day you were born.
According to the information I have, I have 29,182 days. I also looked up your quota, and I hate to be the one to tell you but you're only down for 10,706 days. Of course those figures might be wrong.
Time is, actually, the one commodity nobody can ever get enough of.
I've heard the same thing about sex and money. I would not want to exist for 90,000 days if the last 70,000 of them were miserable.
So if you don't use it in your interests, then, yes, you are wasting your time.
Okay, now we're back on track. Vern identified the real issue clearly: is a person evading values he should pursue based on his needs? That is why me lying in bed staring at the ceiling is not evil, because I'm actually doing something that furthers my goals. I think, though, it would be evil for me to beat this horse any more.
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1

I've heard the same thing about sex and money. I would not want to exist for 90,000 days if the last 70,000 of them were miserable.

2

Okay, now we're back on track. Vern identified the real issue clearly: is a person evading values he should pursue based on his needs? That is why me lying in bed staring at the ceiling is not evil, because I'm actually doing something that furthers my goals. I think, though, it would be evil for me to beat this horse any more.

1

Well, I can't say everything in one sentence. It however doesn't matter whether it's 28000, 29000something, or even 1000.000 days. My point relies on the fact that your time on earth is finite. If you would not die one day, there would be no hurry for sex or money. I wanted to say that the reason we seek values at all is because we only have a limited time on earth to do so. Otherwise, why all the hassle? If I had all the time in the world, I could just wait. But in reality, I can't.

2

Yup, but the reason for this is that your life will end some day.

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