The Elusive Appearance of Time

In Christer Svennerlind, Jan Almäng & Rögnvaldur Ingthorsson (eds.), Johanssonian Investigations. Essays in Honour of Ingvar Johansson on His Seventieth Birthday. Ontos Verlag. pp. 5--304 (2013)
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It is widely assumed that time appears to be tensed, i.e. divided into a future, present and past, and transitory, i.e. involving some kind of ‘flow’ or ‘passage’ of times or events from the future into the present and away into the distant past. In this paper I provide some reasons to doubt that time appears to be tensed and transitory, or at least that philosophers who have suggested that time appears to be that way have included in ‘appearance’ everything that falls under the broad term ‘cognition’, i.e. mental processes of all kinds, including perceiving, remembering, imagining, and thinking. I argue that the tensed and transitory aspect of our experience of temporal reality is, firstly, subordinate to our experience of a world of persistent objects, secondly, in conflict with a popular conception of the nature of persistent material objects, and finally, that it is an aspect of how we think about temporal reality rather than how we actually experience it. I support the last contention by a comparison with our experience of spatiality, which arguably has three distinguishable components: (i) ‘pure input perception’, (ii) ‘perceptual experience modulated by top down cognitive processes’, and (iii) a ‘pure representation of space’. For space, the modulation of our perception of space at any given moment is highly influenced by our pure representation of space, but it is not clear to me that our modulated experience of space is influenced by a pure representation of time. Rather, the modulated experience of temporality, to my mind, is much more clearly an experience of continuous existence of the persisting objects that make up the world.
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