The Concept of Time: A Philosophical and Logical Perspective

  • Peter ØhrstrømEmail author
Part of the Studies in Brain and Mind book series (SIBM, volume 9)


As pointed out by St. Augustine we cannot give a proper definition of time as such. Furthermore, conceiving time as a literal object would be highly problematic. It is, however, possible to establish a conceptual framework for meaningful discussion of the temporal aspects of reality in terms of the philosophical logic of time developed by Arthur Norman Prior. This framework is based on the view that John McTaggart’s A-language is more fundamental than the B-language. Prior’s view can be seen as based on some important properties of human experiences of time, and it involves the claim that it is useful to study the temporal aspects of reality in terms of so-called branching time models. This can in fact be done in several ways. It turns out that some of the most attractive and richest theories based on the ideas of branching time may be seen as formalisations of medieval and other early suggestions made by scholars such as William of Ockham and Luis de Molina. The tense-logical formalism appears to be useful wherever it is important to reason strictly regarding the temporal aspects of reality. Prior’s approach gives rise to a formal language which is relevant in the context of Julius T. Frazer’s hierarchical understanding of time as such and in the study of time in general. It offers a very powerful way to deal with time in a conceptually consistent, systematic and precise manner.


Temporal logic Tense-logic Branching time Temporal aspects of reality The thin red line 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Communication and PsychologyAalborg UniversityAalborgDenmark

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