Heidegger's critique of the vulgar notion of time

International Journal of Philosophical Studies 4 (1):43 – 66 (1996)
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Abstract This paper compares Heidegger's conception of time with more prevalent physical and broadly psychological analyses of time. The ?vulgar? notion of time, as Heidegger understands it, is based on the assumption that time, regardless of whether it is identified with tense or not, is something that is essentially measurable by clocks. Heidegger maintains that the vulgar notion of time is a distortion of his own preferred conception of temporality. I show how temporality may be understood as the non?sequential tensed structure underlying tensed discourse. I argue against any straightforward reduction of this tensed structure and the direction of time to physical occurrences. Nevertheless I argue that temporality can be distinguished from purely psychological analyses of temporal experience and from traditional conceptions of time as tensed experience. The selectiveness of demonstrative discourse provides the basis for Heidegger's critique and reconstruction of time understood as tensed discourse about things. Heidegger's scepticism about the interpretation of time as a sequence of nows that underlies the dominant interpretation of tense is due to his appropriation of the relativity of simultaneity from special relativity. But his interpretation of physical theory leads him to the thesis that time is pre?supposed but not completely analysed in physical theory. The meta?language of physical theory makes covert use of temporal notions, for entities can themselves only be understood in covertly temporal ways. I show how this claim may be understood and defended in the light of current physical theory. Heidegger's analysis gives us some basis for thinking that his own notion of temporality is built into an understanding of temporal experience. But I argue that Heidegger fails to make the case that physical time is ontologically dependent on human existence



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Pierre Keller
University of California, Riverside

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References found in this work

The Varieties of Reference.Gareth Evans - 1982 - Oxford: Oxford University Press. Edited by John Henry McDowell.
Themes From Kaplan.Joseph Almog, John Perry & Howard Wettstein (eds.) - 1989 - New York: Oxford University Press.
Truth and other enigmas.Michael Dummett - 1978 - Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
Time and physical geometry.Hilary Putnam - 1967 - Journal of Philosophy 64 (8):240-247.

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