The Present vs. the Specious Present

Review of Philosophy and Psychology 4 (2):193-203 (2013)
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This article is concerned with the alleged incompatibility between presentism and specious present theories of temporal experience. According to presentism, the present time is instantaneous (or, near-instantaneous), while according to specious present theories, the specious present is temporally extended—therefore, it seems that there is no room in reality for the whole of a specious present, if presentism is true. It seems then that one of the two claims—presentism or the specious present theory—has to go. I shall argue that this kind of worries is mislead. Once we understand properly how our phenomenal experience as of passage and as of change, such as it is understood by specious present theorists, comes into being, the apparent phenomenologico-metaphysical conflict will disappear. In short, the mistake here is to presuppose that there is a link between phenomenology and metaphysics stronger than it actually is. Presentism is a metaphysical theory about what exists. Specious presentism is a phenomenological theory about how things appear to us in experience. As we will see, the two claims are not in conflict, and are in fact entirely orthogonal

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Jiri Benovsky
University of Fribourg


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