Time and Experience

Time and Experience

Peter K. McInerney
Copyright Date: 1991
Published by: Temple University Press
Pages: 224
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  • Book Info
    Time and Experience
    Book Description:

    This book is the only contemporary, systematic study of the relationship of time and conscious experience. Peter K. Mclnerney examines three tightly interconnected issues: how we are able to be conscious of time and temporal entities, whether time exists independently of conscious experience, and whether the conscious experiencer exists in time in the same way that ordinary natural objects are thought to exist in time. Insight is drawn from the views of major phenomenological and existential thinkers on these issues.

    Building on a detailed explication and critique of the views of Kant, Husserl, Heidegger, and Sartre, Mclnerney develops and defends his own positions. He argues that a revised version of Husserl's three-feature theory of time-consciousness provides the best explanation of our awareness of temporal features, but that an independently real time is necessary to explain our experience of temporal passage. He also shows that human existence has some special temporal features in addition to those it shares with other entities. Time-consciousness, the conscious exercise of powers, and personal identity through time require that any temporal part of human existence be defined by and "reach across" to earlier and later parts.

    eISBN: 978-1-4399-0499-2
    Subjects: Philosophy

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-2)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 3-10)

    Ordinary experience seems both to take place in time and to concern things that happen in time. This seemingly simple fact is the starting point for the most profound set of philosophical issues concerning human conscious existence and our awareness of other entities. Time essentially includes some type of separation of temporal parts. To be aware of anything that happens in time, human consciousness mustunify into one experiencethe appropriate temporal parts of what is experienced. How human consciousness is able to do this, what it means for the ontology of consciousness, and what it reveals about the ontological...

  5. Part I The Issues
    • 1 Time-Consciousness and the Ontology of Time
      (pp. 13-33)

      People are conscious of time in many ways. We keep track of time with clocks, we estimate how long something will last, and we rush to get things done on time. We also recollect past experiences and may be nostalgic about them or anxious about some future event. Many philosophers have thought that one form of time-consciousness, time-perception, is basic in that all the other forms depend upon time-perception but it does not depend upon them. Whether or not this dependence thesis is true, the perception of the temporal features of external entities is the most important form of time-consciousness,...

    • 2 The Denial of Temporal Realism
      (pp. 34-47)

      Perception is commonsensically understood to involve the detection of events and states of affairs that exist independently of the consciousness that perceives them. In existing independently the perceived entities are understood to exist in a real time and a real space. Time, or perhaps the time parameter of entities, is itself commonsensically understood to exist independently of consciousness. Furthermore, consciousness is itself thought to be an entity that arises, passes away, and exists in real time. Theacceptanceof the reality of time, which is the position that I am calling “temporal realism,” is an intrinsic part of commonsense notions....

    • 3 The Question of a Special Temporality
      (pp. 48-58)

      First-person consciousness has always been considered to be something special. Whether as soul or mind or person, human consciousness has been conceived to be different from the non-conscious worldly entities of which it is aware. This difference should be reflected in the different ways that conscious and non-conscious entities are temporal. Although ontological theories have not always recognized the difference, human consciousness should have a special temporal (or even non-temporal) nature that is different from that of ordinary natural objects. In this chapter I will examine what a special temporal nature would be like, the types of reasons that have...

  6. Part II Phenomenological Positions
    • 4 Kant’s Theory of Time-Consciousness and Time
      (pp. 63-93)

      Immanuel Kant was the progenitor of the tradition that made time and time-consciousness central issues of metaphysics, theory of knowledge, and philosophy of mind. Kant was not a phenomenologist in the technical sense in that he did not follow the specific procedures codified by Husserl for phenomenological investigation (transcendental phenomenological reduction, description of noetic acts and noematic correlates, eidetic variation). Nevertheless, his first-person approach to the investigation of consciousness, meaning, and knowledge was in many respects similar to phenomenology and was very influential for it. The deep influence of Kant's thought concerning the syntheses underlying consciousness, how objects and objectivity...

    • 5 Husserl’s Theory of Time-Consciousness and Time
      (pp. 94-117)

      From the late 1890s to his death in 1938, Edmund Hussed refined and modified his phenomenological approach to philosophy. He changed many of his basic positions, including the primary way of entering into phenomenological research. In discussing Hussed’s views on time-consciousness, the temporal nature of the experiencer, and temporal realism, I will emphasize the “Cartesian” approach to and method for phenomenology. Hussed advocated this approach and method until his last work,The Crisis of European Sciences and Transcendental Phenomenology,and even there, the self-constitution of the primal ego is recognized to be more fundamental than the intersubjective community of transcendental...

    • 6 Heidegger’s Theory of Time-Consciousness and Temporality
      (pp. 118-148)

      Throughout his career the question of Being was the focus of Martin Heidegger’s thought. He was concerned to elucidate what it is for something to be. Time in the sense of the temporal character of Being and beings (entities that are) was a fundamental theme of this thinking about Being. This chapter will examine Heidegger’s views on time consciousness, temporal realism, and the temporal nature of the experiencer as they were presented in the late 1920s. Since Heidegger’s thought concerning Being evolved during his lifetime, there is reason to think that his views concerning the relation of Being and time...

    • 7 Sartre’s Theory of Time-Consciousness and Time
      (pp. 149-174)

      Jean-Paul Sartre’s primary concern at the time ofBeing and Nothingness¹ was to make people responsible for themselves. Since Sartre believed that free will was necessary for responsibility, his ontology of human being was designed to explain how humans can be free and responsible for themselves. Following in the Kantian tradition, Sartre thought that if human life occurred in a real time, free will would not be possible. Thus, his ontology portrays time as entirely dependent upon human being. As in Heidegger’s philosophy, human being is a temporalizing activity that produces the time of worldly entities.

      Sartre’s philosophy was very...

  7. Part III The Temporality of Experience
    • 8 Time-Consciousness
      (pp. 177-205)

      In developing the phenomenological basis for my theory of timeconsciousness, I should first state what my conception of phenomenology and of a phenomenological basis is. As envisioned originally by Husserl, phenomenological method is a special type of reflection upon our being conscious. Reflective awareness of conscious life is different from just “living through” that conscious life. Reflection is a particular, second-order mental act in which we observe our first-order conscious life and its intended objects.¹ Phenomenological reflection suspends for itself any claims about independent reality in order to observe without presuppositions and to describe our first-order consciousness. Husserl thought that...

    • 9 Temporal Realism
      (pp. 206-226)

      None of the phenomenological theorists that I examined in Part II were idealists in general, but most and arguably all of them were temporal idealists.¹ Their theories of time and time-consciousness were such that the temporal features of worldly entities and of mental life did not exist independently of consciousness. Human consciousness was the foundation of all time and temporal features of entities.

      The theory of time-consciousness that I presented in Chapter 8 relied upon the existence of an ontologically real time. Phases of mental life and experienced phases of worldly entities were portrayed as existing in and enduring unchanged...

    • 10 The Special Temporality of Human Being
      (pp. 227-251)

      The temporal idealist tradition had an important insight: that human consciousness is temporally different from the non-conscious worldly entities of which it is aware. Humans exist through time in a way different from that of non-conscious worldly entities. Most of these have only the standard temporal features, but human temporal existence is different even from the temporal existence of systems with functional parts, which have some special temporal features. Having discussed in the last chapter the extent to which human consciousness exists within standard time by having real temporal relations with other real entities, I will examine in this chapter...

  8. Conclusion
    (pp. 251-252)

    That humans are temporal in the ways that I have discussed in Chapters 8–10 is an important feature of human life. Being in time is part of human finiteness. In virtue of our finite temporal extensions, we have to confront our own inevitable deaths. In virtue of temporal passage, we are changed by living through time. We are transformed by our choices, actions, and experiences so that we can never simply repeat anything or retrieve a choice. Whatever else may be the same, we will be different....

  9. Appendix
    (pp. 255-260)
  10. Notes
    (pp. 261-278)
  11. Index
    (pp. 279-283)