Time

"What, then, is time? If nobody asks me, I know; but if I try to explain it to someone who asks me, I do not know." (St. Augustine) "Beginning again and again and again explaining composition and time is a natural thing." (Gertrude Stein) 

Philosophical Time:

Time makes the conceptions of both change and motion possible. 

In a structuralist and anthropological context, human time and history are based on a signifying opposition between synchrony and diachrony. Giorgio Agamben underscores the inverse relationships of play and ritual with respect to time. If ritual serves to fix and structure the calendar, play, on the other hand changes and destroys it. For Agamben, the differential margin between diachrony and synchrony is produced by this system and is called history, or in other words, human time. (Infancy and History, p.75) In La Pensée Sauvage, Levi-Strauss drew the opposition between ritual and play into an exemplary formula: while rites transform events into structures, play transforms structures into events. For Schiller the function of the liberating play impulse is to "abolish time in time", to reconcile being and becoming, change and identity

In the Critique of Pure Reason, Kant describes time in much the same terms as he describes space. If space is the pure form of external intuition, time is the universal condition of the possiblity of all phenomena, both internal and external, immediate for internal phenomena and mediate for external phenomena. Kant rejects Newtonian absolute time (see below) and maintains that time is subjective, but that it is also universal. It is not an empirical conception but a necessary and a priori representation. Time is the pure form of the internal sense, that is, of intuitions of the self and of our internal state. (Time is therefore "autoaffection" and makes up the essential structure of subjectivity -- the theme picked up by Heidegger.) For Heidegger, Time is foundationally existential, and he tries to derive his analysis of authentic existence directly from an analysis of time. It is based on the human sense of finitude, and time accounting is the accounting for what one can do with the time of finitude. Hence temporality arises out of concern . For Heidegger, time is intentional insofar as it is always directed; it is time for___. 

Time as subject, or rather subjectivation, is called memory
A subject who cannot unify past, present, and future is a schizophrenic

Herbert Marcuse considers time "the fatal enemy of lasting gratification" (Eros and Civilization, p. 191) "The idea of integral human liberation therefore necessarily contains the vision of the struggle against time."

For Freud, the unconscious is characterized by timelessness. He also describes the relations between the different systems of consciousness, the unconscious, preconscious, and conscious, as topographic, in that when an idea is transposed from one system to another it requires a fresh registration, alongside of which the old record in the original system may persist. 

Deleuze and Guattari characterize philosophical time as "stratigraphic", expressing before and after as an order of superimpositions and organizing syntagms on a plane of immanence, while science displays a peculiarly serial, ramified time...resulting in a completely different pace of scientific progress, marked by bifurcations and ruptures. (What is Philosophy?, p. 124) The goal of a scientist's work is to spare us going down the same path again. "We do not work through a named equation, we use it" In 1000 Plateaux, they refer to a time of chronos, the time of measure, as opposed to a time of aeon, which is "the time of the pure event or of becoming, which articulates relative speeds and slownesses independently of the chronometric or chronological values that time assumes in other modes." (p.263)

George Kubler's The Shape of Time and Henri Focillons Life of Forms in Art describe multiple temporalities or durations. Focillon describes "monumental time," the time of historians and of museums as marked by centuries, as a time organized as it if were architecture, distributed, like the masses of an edifice, within stable chronological environments. "Yet deep within ourselves, we know that time is a "becoming" With varying degrees of success, we therefore rework our monumental time into that of a fluid time, or, one whose duration has a plastic quality." (p.139) 

Terrence Deacon describes time as being critically important in any information-processing device that tends to operate most entirely in parallel. He suggests that segregations of different linguistic functions in the brain might occur in relation to differences between fast and slow processes. For Deacon, the hierarchical complexity of sentence structure and the multiplication of tricks for compacting clauses into sentences with considerable analytic depth may be ways to distribute language processes more efficiently accross many parallel and partially independent systems. (The Symbolic Species, p.293)

Time can be thought of as an absolute condition or as relations between events. This distinction is very similar to that between space / place. Is time a continuous flux or a sum of discrete units? cf smooth / striated Is there a single, homogeneous time? 

According to Alain Badiou, our world is marked by its speed: the speed of historical change, the speed of technical change, the speed of communications, and even the speed with which humans establish conncections with one another. But for Badiou, "speed is the mask of inconsistency." (Absolute Thought, p. 51.) He calls on philosophy to proppose a retardation process, to construct a time for thought, which will constitute a time of its own. 

Absolute Time:

Newtonian time is as absolute as Newtonian space. As Einstein put it, "The simultaneity of two definite events with reference to one inertial system involves the simultaneity of these events in reference to all inertial systems." (See Scientific Space) For Newton, "Absolute, true, and mathematical time, of itself, and from its own nature, flows equally without relation to anything external." It is a linear concept of points along a line. Thus a pattern of zero-dimensional points or vertices are joined by a one-dimensional line which represents time intervals between successive measured moments. A clock serves to produce a correspondence between events and vertices of time moments. Newtonian time is reversible time: Newtonian variable t or -t reverses direction. Eg. an orrery can run in opposite direction and still be describable in Newtonian laws. 

Although Newtonian time may be reversible, observation, measurement, and communication are not. In the first chapter of Cybernetics, Norbert Weiner argues that "within any world within which we can communicate, the direction of time is uniform." There is a significant difference between incoming and outgoing light, for example. We could not understand a message sent to us by someone whose direction ran the other way. Their consequences would be our antecedents and would explain and thus neutralize the message. He contrasts the reversible time of Newton and celestial mechanics, in which nothing new happens, with the irreversible time of Bergson and Vitalism, the time of evolution and biology, in which there is always something new. Weiner also characterizes meterological time as irreversible. (ref. Prigogine and Stengers Order Out of Chaos regarding reversibility / irreversibility) For assymetric time see esp. second law of thermodynamics see also control for distinction between expectation and activity


Relative Time

Time can also be thought of in more relational terms, following Aristotle's version of "time is the measure of change with respect to before and after." One contemporary way of doing that is to consider events as having dimensions. The time intervals between these p-events may not be able to be ordered in the Newtonian manner. They become an experience of time passing. Thus when we try to force our time experience into Newtonian clock-time, we are trying to "warp the natural geometry of the events" (Casti, Complexification, p.202) We end up subjecting ourselves to structural stresses and strains that give rise to expressions like "time flies" or the poem by Guy Pentreath:

For when I was a babe and wept and slept, Time crept;
When I was a boy and laughed and talked, Time walked;
Then when the years saw me a man, time ran,
but as I older grew, Time flew. 

Einstein asked "On what basis do we have at our disposal the means of measuring time?" The basis must include the meaning of simultaneity or of simultaneous events. In the special theory of relativity of 1905, Einstein calulated how time in one reference system moving away at constant velocity appears to slow down when viewed from another system at rest relative to it, and in his general theory of 1916 he extended the theory to that of the time change of accelerated bodies. In the special theory Einstein concluded that one cannot attach any absolute status to simultaneity. see space-time 
The Social and Technological transformation of Time: see time and technology 
Any anthropology of time studies how time is localized in a particular culture. In distinguishing between strategy and tactics, Michel de Certeau sees the former as establishing an autonomous "proper" place outside of time, while the latter is always bound up with the opportunities of the instant. 

The invention of the mechanical clock in the thirteenth century inaugurated a new representation of time. For the West, the clock symbolized regularity, predictability, and control

Modernity must be understood as an atititude about time, as a sense that the present differs qualitatively from the past, and that the future is what counts. 

In The Culture of Time and Space, Stephen Kern studies how the changes in thinking about these abstract philosophical categories were manifested in a concrete historical situation. According to Kern, "From around 1880 to the outbreak of World War I, a series of sweeping changes in technology and culture created distinctive new modes of thinking and experiencing time and space. Technological inventions including the telephone, wireless telegraph, x-ray, cinema, bicycleautomobile, and airplane established the material foundation for this reorientation; independent cultural developments such as the stream-of consciousness novel, psychoanalysis, Cubism, and the theory of relativity shaped consciousness directly. The result was a transformation of the the dimensions of life and thought." (intro. p.1) 

Kern's book starts with the establishment, in 1878, of a globally unified time based on Greenwhich Mean Time, and including the International Date Line. (for a discussion of the Date Line, see singularity. ) Greenwhich time dates from 1675, with the establishment of the Royal Observatory, which was created to meet the needs of shipping. Its use was restricted to the shipboard chronometers, however, until standard time was introduced to the railroads. Thus, the previously impossible task of making synchronized and regulated schedules (especially for railroads) was now possible, and for Kern, the culture of simultaneity was its correlate. 

For Gilles Deleuze, science displays a peculiarly serial, ramified time...resulting in a completely different pace of scientific progress (What is Philosophy?, p. 124) marked by bifurcations and ruptures. The goal of a scientist's work is to spare us going down the same path again. "We do not work through a named equation, we use it" Manuel De Landa argues that the most important model for serial industrial production in the nineteenth century was ammunition and military spare parts, and that the need for absolute similarity and exchangibility came out of the requirements of warfare, not out of developments in the economic sector. 

Economic Time:

"Economy of time, to this all economy ultimately reduces itself." Karl Marx 
For Marx, the quantification of time degrades it to the dimension of space. (cf work)
Time becomes something that is used: (l'emploi du temps ) 

Note: difference between latin languages and Germanic ones regarding the relation between time and weather. In French, for example, le temps refers to both, and their common origin lies in agricultural practice. This relation has been suppressed in English and German.


public time / private time? 

sacred / profane time? 

For the medieval Christian mind, there was no conception of history as an endless chain of cause and effect, no separation of cosmology and history, and no radical separations between past and present. Marc Bloch observes that people thought they must be near the end of time, in the sense that Christ's second coming could occur at any moment. In this view, which Walter Benjamin called "Messianic time," past and present are simultaneous in an instananeous present. (Benedict Anderson) 

This struggle seems to come to an end in the "denatured" time of postmodernism, in the belief that the future is already "used up", that it has already happened, that time is obsolete.