Time: Being or Consciousness Alone? — A Realist View

  • M. Matsumoto


Experience of matter can be described in the context of time and space, whereas, some people say, experience of mind may be described according to time only. Accordingly, though time and space together are regarded as objective forms, one may have a propensity for treating time alone as a particular form of the subjective consciousness. For space is indeed referred to the self-evidence of being, while time is thought to belong rather to the self-evidence of our own consciousness. According to my opinion, however, even the spatial description is indispensable for the state of “mind”. For instance, the contents of our consciousness can be described only in terms of the localized phases of their images. Contrary to Kant, who regarded time and space together as forms of the outer intuition (i.e. as conditions of sensation), and time alone as form of the inner sense, I have a firm intention to assert them both as two forms of objective being because it is the being itself that can be the ultimate object of any of our cognitive powers — sensation, understanding and reason. Time and space are not forms proper to a particular “being” such as conscious existence like ours; they are also, nay, above all, two objective forms of being in general that transcends all such limited existences. It follows that these forms themselves, once abstracted in our mind, must, first of all, be valid for material beings; after that, i.e. derivatively and analogically, they may also be valid for mind-beings. The main aim of this paper is “dialectically” to elucidate that fact on the subject of time in particular.


Objective Form Spatial Description Copernican Revolution Macroscopic World Limited Existence 
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    Avicenna, Muslim philosopher of the thirteenth century, is regarded as a forerunner of Descartes by his metaphor of “Man in air” (Avicenna’s De Anima,ed. by F. Rahman, London 1959, p. 16). One of us, he says, could be conscious of his own existence, even if he were in air having nothing to perceive by the perceptive organs of his body.Google Scholar
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    We may compare this subjectivism with the monotheistic tradition of Hebrew thought. Here the “Absolute” is the ultimate “Other” that transcends the world of relative beings. Joined with the objectivism of Hellenism, this thought regards the world as objective being and makes the “Absolute” its original and final cause. Both the existence and meaning of the world exist relatively to the “Absolute”, not of themselves. This outer world, founded and created by the “Absolute Other”, becomes even a measure for the unstable and arbitrary, relative ego. This is the origin of Western Objectivistic realism. Here is a dialdgue between the absolute “Thou” and the relative “I” and a contract or covenant between God and man. Faith is the loyalty to this contract. Christianity arises from this cosmology.Google Scholar
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    Aristotelian categories are historically well-known. They are ten: substance, quality, quantity, relation, time, space, action, passion, state, possession. I summarize them into four principal groups: (1) substance, (2) attribute (which includes quality, quantity and relation), (3) accident (which includes time, space, action, passion and state), (4) possession that means value-beings such as truth and falsity, goodness and badness. The terms in the same group show some correlative characters, either between a pair (e.g. quality and quantity, time and space, action and passion) or among them all. Cf. my book, Sonzai no Ronrigaku Kenkyu (The Logic of Being), Tokyo 1944.Google Scholar
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    These ideas are based on a new interpretation of Aristotle that I presented, op.cit.,pp. 384–85 and notes (5) and (7).Google Scholar

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© Springer-Verlag New York Inc. 1975

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  • M. Matsumoto

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