Experience and time: Transparency and presence

Authors
Christoph Hoerl
University of Warwick
Abstract
Philosophers frequently comment on the intimate connection there is between something’s being present in perceptual experience and that thing’s being, or at least appearing to be, temporally present. Yet, there is relatively little existing work that goes beyond asserting such a connection and instead examines its specific nature. In this paper, I suggest that we can make progress on the latter by looking at two more specific debates that have hitherto been conducted largely isolation from each other: one about the nature of conscious experience and one about the nature of time itself. The first concerns the extent to which the temporal properties of experience form an exception to the transparency of experience, meaning that introspection can provide support for one particular view of how experience itself is structured temporally; the second concerns the question as to whether there is something about experience that gives us grounds for thinking that the present is somehow metaphysically special. As I argue, the idea of a connection between experiential presence and temporal presence plays a key background role in each of these debates. Yet it can also, in each of them, be seen to draw one side towards making claims that are supposed to express an important truth but are at the same time, on the face of it, self-contradictory. In each case, resolving what it actually is that these claims are trying to get at turns on recognizing a distinctive feature of perceptual experience, which I refer to as its lack of temporal viewpointedness. Recognising this feature also helps in making sense of what the issues at stake actually are in the intuition of an intimate connection between experiential presence and temporal presence.
Keywords Temporal experience  Transparency  Metaphysics of time  Philosophy of perception
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Reprint years 2018
DOI 10.3998/ergo.12405314.0005.005>
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