From space and time to the spacing of temporal articulation: a phenomenological re-run of Achilles and the tortoise

Existentia (1-2) (2005)
Abstract
In view of the primacy assigned to the 'present' in traditional metaphysics, in terms of the ways in which questions about existence are expressed, the following discussion takes the question of the temporalizing of the present as its theme. This involves unravelling the historical traces of the thought of the present as a finite, closed, objective point of a successive continuum of discrete moments (a real oscillation between the now and the not-now) by returning to the phenomenological sense of the present as the stretching out of an opening – the 'living Present' (lebendige Gegenwart) – which bears its continuity of presence and non-presence within itself (without restriction to linearity). The transition itself suggests something like a quantum-leap and, in another sense, it also extends beyond the bounds of this simile (and the discontinuity that is implied) by evoking the image of a 'twist' or a 'turn.’ In order to grasp the significance of this turn we shall first examine – re turn to – its main obstacle: the concept of time as a linear and corpuscular continuum. The traditional model of time as a succession of 'now-points' (a notion that 1 still infects discourse on temporality) has always undermined our understanding of 'presence' as that which maintains itself (abides) through succession. In effect, presence must be 'maintained' [maintenant] within the 'now.' Yet, if the 'now' is constantly shifting into non-being through its replacement by a new 'now' then presence must be infused with its own negation and a certain discontinuity. How is it possible, then, to speak of the 'persistence' of 'identity' as something unitary (simultaneous with itself) existing through plurality and successive fragmentation into non-being? Furthermore, in reference to motion, what is entailed in the possibility of experiencing the transition of a selfsame (particular) object from one spatial location to another: how is it that the object 'endures' through its spatial and temporal transition? Since antiquity the question of simultaneity has been taken for granted – generally being consigned to mere spatial models..
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