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Time

temporal, space, experience, specious, experiences and future

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TIME, that dimension of the world which we express in terms of before and after. Our experience of time is in general analogous with our experiences of space (q.v.), but it has cer tain important differences from the latter. These reside primarily in the fact that whereas it is customary for us to think only of the physical order of things in spatial terms, the temporal sequence pervades mind and matter alike. For this reason many philosophers who have treated of space as something secondary and derived have assigned to time a very fundamental status. This has been especially the case among such idealists as Berkeley. In Leibnitz's philosophy time appears as the backgound, so to speak, of the pre-established harmony between the monads, while space is merely the confused perception of their logi cal relations. Royce, like most of the Abso lutist disciples of Hegel, holds a view of time which makes it prior to all finite minds, form ing their natural environment, as it were, while for the Absolute Experience it is merely a phase of mental content. Bergson considers time the only true dimension of Being, when this is perceived in the truest manner by intui tion, while he considers space as an artificial in tellectualization of the time process.

These views of the nature of time are op posed to those which assimilate it to space.

Kant, for example, makes time the form of the internal sense and space the form of the external sense. The time of the natural scientist has always partaken of the nature of space and now partakes of this nature more than ever, for it is considered by the advocates of the theory of relativity (q.v.) that a moving body carries with it a temporal system entirely dif ferent from that of the world with reference to which it is at rest and that the true units of both time and space are neither points nor moments, but moments-in-the-history-of-a-point. The grand problem in the philosophy of time consists in the harmonization of these physical time theories with the apparent differences be tween time and space.

The first step toward the closing of this breach is the analysis of our experience of time. This has been done with great care by William James (q.v.) in his (Principles of Psychology.) He finds that within a definite, limited interval of duration, known as the specious present, there is a direct perception of the temporal re lations. After an event has passed beyond the specious present, it can only enter into con sciousness by reproductive memory. As James says, "The object of memory is only an object imagined in the past to which the emotion of belief adheres.)) One might add in the same way that our cognition of the future is only cognition by anticipation and that the object of anticipation is only an object imagined in the future to which the emotion of belief adheres.

We thus see from James' account that our temporal experience is divided into three quali tatively distinct intervals: the remembered past, the perceived specious present and the anticipated future. By means of this tripartite division, we are able to orient our present selves in the temporal stream of our own ex perience. However, we do not merely have at our disposal the temporal order generated by our present experience, but the memory of the temporal orders of past experiences, and the expectation of the temporal orders of future experiences. These temporal orders are them selves subject to a correlation and a temporal arrangement, for two temporal orders not too remote from one another will possess in com mon certain items by which they may be com pared and the order of their specious presents be determined. As a consequence, it is pos sible to construct a secondary temporal order of the immediately given temporal orders of our experience and it results directly from this that we can construct a temporal arrangement of our specious presents and their contents. We thus see how it is possible for time to have its roots in experience and yet to be a dimension in which experiences and their con tents are arranged.

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