On the temporal character of temporal experience, its scale non-invariance, and its small scale structure

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The nature of temporal experience is typically explained in one of a small number of ways, most are versions of either retentionalism or extensionalism. After describing these, I make a distinction between two kinds of temporal character that could structure temporal experience: A-ish contents are those that present events as structured in past/present/future terms, and B-ish contents are those that present events as structured in earlier-than/later-than/simultaneous-with relations. There are a few exceptions, but most of the literature ignores this distinction, and silently assumes temporal experience is A-ish. I then argue that temporal character is not scale invariant, but rather that temporal experience is A-ish at larger scales, and B-ish at smaller scales. I then point out that this scale non-invariance opens the possibility of hybrid views. I clarify my own view as a hybrid view, according to which temporal experience is B-ish at small scales – and at this scale my trajectory estimation model applies – but A-ish at larger scales, and at the larger scale my TEM does not apply. I then motivate this hybrid position by first defending it against arguments that have tried to show that the TEM is untenable. Since the hybrid view has TEM as its small-scale component, it must address this objection. I then put pressure on the main alternative account, extentionalism, by showing that its proponents have not adequately dealt with the problem of temporal illusions. The result is a new theory motivated by i) explaining its virtues, ii) showing that objections to it can be met, and iii) showing that objections to its main competitors have not been met.

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Rick Grush
University of California, San Diego


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