Agents of change: temporal flow and feeling oneself act

Philosophical Studies 179 (8):2619-2637 (2022)
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Abstract

Here, I put forward a new account of how experience gives rise to the belief that time passes. While there is considerable disagreement amongst metaphysicians as to whether time really does pass, it has struck many as a default, ‘common sense’ way of thinking about the world. A popular way of explaining how such a belief arises is to say that it seems perceptually as though time passes. Here I outline some difficulties for this approach, and propose instead that the belief in time passing is elicited by a particular feature of agentive experience. When we deliberately move our bodies, bring something to mind, or focus our attention, we experience ourselves as the sources of these actions. Sensing oneself as a source, I argue, is a unique type of change experience, one which leads us to a belief that time is passing.

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Nick Young
University of Antwerp

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