Perceiving temporal properties

European Journal of Philosophy 18 (2):176-202 (2010)
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Abstract

Philosophers have long struggled to understand our perceptual experience of temporal properties such as succession, persistence and change. Indeed, strikingly, a number have felt compelled to deny that we enjoy such experience. Philosophical puzzlement arises as a consequence of assuming that, if one experiences succession or temporal structure at all, then one experiences it at a moment. The two leading types of theory of temporal awareness—specious present theories and memory theories—are best understood as attempts to explain how temporal awareness is possible within the constraints of this principle. I argue that the principle is false. Neither theory of temporal awareness can be made workable unless it is rejected. Our experience of temporal phenomena cannot be understood if we attempt to break experience down into instantaneous slices. In order to understand the perception of temporal properties we must look beyond the instant.

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Ian Phillips
Johns Hopkins University

References found in this work

The Principles of Psychology.William James - 1890 - London, England: Dover Publications.
Consciousness Explained.William G. Lycan - 1993 - Philosophical Review 102 (3):424.
Critique of Pure Reason.Immanuel Kant - 1998 - Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

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