Advertisement

Does It Really Seem to Us as Though Time Passes?

  • Kristie Miller
Chapter

Abstract

It is often assumed that it seems to each of us as though time flows, or passes. On that assumption, it follows either that time does in fact pass and then, pretty plausibly, we have mechanisms that detect its passage, or that time does not pass, and we are subject to a pervasive phenomenal illusion. If the former is the case, we are faced with the explanatory task of spelling out which perceptual or cognitive mechanism (or combination thereof) allows us to detect and track time’s passage (Sect. 2.1). If the latter, then we are faced with the task of explaining how, and why, we are subject to a pervasive phenomenal illusion (Sect. 2.2). There is, however, a third, somewhat less discussed, explanatory project. Rather than assuming that it seems to each of us as though time passes, and then attempting to explain why it seems that way, we jettison that assumption. According to these views, it does not seem to us as though time passes; instead, we come to falsely believe that it seems to us as though time passes (Sect. 3). This view requires that we explain how we come to have systematically false beliefs about the way our experiences seem to us. This paper aims to motivate this third explanatory strategy and say something about what kind of cognitive mechanisms might be responsible for our having a false belief that it seems as though time passes (Sect. 3.1), and why we might have evolved (some of) those mechanisms (Sect. 3.2). In particular, this chapter does not aim to argue for this view; rather, it aims to present it as a viable contender alongside other more common views.

References

  1. Arstila, V. (2016). The time of experience and the experience of time. In B. Mölder, V. Arstila, & P. Øhrstrøm (Eds.), Philosophy and psychology of time (pp. 163–186). Cham: Springer International Publishing.  https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-22195-3_9 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Arstila, V. (2018). Temporal experiences without the specious present. Australasian Journal of Philosophy, 96(2), 287–302.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Bardon, A. (2013). A brief history of the philosophy of time. (p. 95). Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  4. Baron, S., Cusbert, J., Farr, M., Kon, M., & Miller, K. (2015). Temporal experience, temporal passage and the cognitive sciences. Philosophy Compass, 10(8), 56–571.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Boroditsky, L. (2001). Does language shape thought? English and Mandarin speakers’ conceptions of time. Cognitive Psychology, 43, 1–22.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Boroditsky, L., Fuhrman, O., & McCormick, K. (2011). Do English and Mandarin speakers think about time differently? Cognition, 118, 123–129.Google Scholar
  7. Braddon-Mitchell, D. (2013). Against the illusion theory of temporal phenomenology. In T. Sato, S. Sugimoto, & T. Sakon (Eds.), Proceedings of the CAPE International Workshops, CAPE Studies in Applied Philosophy and Ethics Series, Vol 2. (pp. 211–222). CAPE Publications.Google Scholar
  8. Callender, C. (2008). The common now. Philosophical Issues, 18(1), 339–361.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Callender, C. (2017). What makes time special? Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  10. Casasanto, D., & Bottini, R. (2014). Mirror reading can reverse the flow of time. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 143, 473–479.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Chen, J. Y. (2007). Do Chinese and English speakers think about time differently? Failure of replicating Boroditsky (2001). Cognition, 104, 427–436.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Craig, W. L. (2000). The tensed theory of time: A critical examination. Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Craig, W. L. (2001). Wishing it were now some other time. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, 62(1), 159–166.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Dainton, B. (2011). Time, passage, and immediate experience. In C. Callender (Ed.), The Oxford handbook of philosophy of time. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  15. Deng, N. (2013). On explaining why time seems to pass. Southern Journal of Philosophy, 51(3), 367–382.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Fuhrman, O., & Boroditsky, L. (2010). Cross-cultural differences in mental representations of time: Evidence from an implicit non-linguistic task. Cognitive Science, 34, 1430–1145.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Fuhrman, O., McCormick, K., Chen, E., Jiang, H., Shu, D., Mao, S., & Boroditsky, L. (2011). How linguistic and cultural forces shape conceptions of time: English and Mandarin time in 3D. Cognitive Science, 35, 1305–1328.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Gale, R. M. (1968). The language of time. Virginia: Humanities Press.Google Scholar
  19. Gallagher, S. (2003). Sync-ing in the stream of experience: Time-consciousness in Broad, Husserl, and Dainton. Psyche, 9.Google Scholar
  20. Gell, A. (1992). The anthropology of time: Cultural constructions of temporal maps and images. Berg.Google Scholar
  21. Hestevold, H. S. (1994). Passage and the presence of experience. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, 50(3), 537–552.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Hoerl, C. (2014). Do we (seem to) perceive passage? Philosophical Explorations, 17(2), 188–202.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Hohwy, J., Paton, B., & Palmer, C. (2015). Distrusting the present. Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences, 15(3), 315–335.  https://doi.org/10.1007/s11097-015-9439-6 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Ismael, J. (2012). Decision and the open future. In A. Bardon (Ed.), The future of the philosophy of time (pp. 149–169). Routledge.Google Scholar
  25. Le Poidevin, R. (2007). The images of time. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Maudlin, T. (2002). Remarks on the passing of time. Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society, 102(3), 237–252.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Maudlin, T. (2007). The metaphysics within physics. Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  28. Miller, K., Holcombe, A. O., & Latham, A. J. (2018). Temporal phenomenology: Phenomenological illusion vs cognitive error. Synthese.  https://doi.org/10.1007/s11229-018-1730-y
  29. Morrot, G., Brochet, F., & Dubourdieu, D. (2001). The color of odors. Brain & Language, 79, 309–320.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Norton, J. (2010). Time really passes. Humana Mente, (13), 23–34.Google Scholar
  31. Paul, L. (2010). Temporal experience. Journal of Philosophy, CVII(7), 333–359.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Price, H. (1997). Time’s arrow & Archimedes’ point: New directions for the physics of time. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  33. Prior, A. (1968). Papers on time and tense. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  34. Prosser, S. (2007). Could we experience the passage of time? Ratio, 20, 75–90.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Prosser, S. (2012). Why does time seem to pass? Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, 85, 92–116.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Prosser, S. (2013). Passage and perception. Noûs, 47, 69–84.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Schuster, M. M. (1986). Is the flow of time subjective? The Review of Metaphysics, 39, 695–714.Google Scholar
  38. Sinha, C., & Gardenfors, P. (2014). Time, space, and events in language and cognition: A comparative view. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences. Issue: Flow of Time, 40, 1–10.Google Scholar
  39. Smith, Q. (1994). The phenomenology of a-time. In L. N. Oaklander & Q. Smith (Eds.), The new theory of time (pp. 351–359). New Haven and London: Yale University Press.Google Scholar
  40. Torrengo, G. (2017). Feeling the passing of time. The Journal of Philosophy, 114(4), 165–188.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Zimmerman, D. (2005). The A-theory of time, the B-theory of time, and ‘taking tense seriously’. Dialectica, 59(4), 401–457.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Zimmerman, D. W. (2008). The privileged present: Defending an “A-theory” of time. In J. Hawthorne & D. W. Zimmerman (Eds.), Contemporary debates in metaphysics. Theodore sider (pp. 211–225). Oxford: Blackwell Publishing Ltd.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kristie Miller
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PhilosophySchool of Philosophical and Historical Inquiry and The Centre for Time, University of SydneySydneyAustralia

Personalised recommendations