Is Time Real?

Part of the Analecta Husserliana book series (ANHU, volume 8)


In our ordinary language, there are two ways of speaking of time. We say in some cases that each position in time is “earlier” than some positions and “later” than others, and in other cases that each position is either “past,” “present,” or “future.” In the article entitled “The Unreality of Time” in Mind (1908), J. E. McTaggart distinguished these two ways, and for the sake of brevity spoke of the series of positions running from the past through the present to the future as the A series, and the series of positions which runs from earlier to later as the B series. And, regarding the A series as more fundamental to time than the B series, he asserted that time is unreal. For, according to him, the A series is not a series of the real. This view is also put forward in his posthumous Nature of Existence, II (1927). On the contrary, P. Bieri, regarding the B series as the more fundamental, asserts in his recent book Zeit and Zeiterfahrung (1972) that time is real. In his opinion, the A series involves the B series as its “principle of construction.” But I think that these two arguments are not quite contrary, because the B series should also be considered unreal. I will state my reasons in this paper. As for myself, I believe that it is only motion or change of things that is real, and it may be possible to draw this conclusion mutatis mutandis from Husserl’s theory of the constitution of time.


Immanent Object Vicious Circle Absolute Time Ordinary Language Temporal Unity 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    B. Russell, The Principles of Mathematics, I,Cambridge, 1903, § 442.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    J. M. E. McTaggart, Nature of Existence, II,Cambridge, 1968, § 315.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    J. E. McTaggart, ‘The Unreality of Time,’ Mind, 1908.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    A. Lalande, Vocabulaire technique et critique de la philosophie, P.U.F., 1956.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    A. Koyré. Newtonian Studies, Chapman & Hall, 1965, p. 103.Google Scholar
  6. 8.
    E. Husserl, The Phenomenology of Internal Time-Consciousness,translated by J. Churchill, M. Nijhoff, 1964, §39.Google Scholar
  7. 10.
    P. Bieri, Zeit und Zeiterfahrung, Suhrkamp Verlag, 1972, p. 199.Google Scholar
  8. 11.
    G. Berger, Phénoménologie du temps et prospective, P.U.F., 1964, p. 130.Google Scholar
  9. 13.
    Cf. ‘L’épaisseur du présent préobjectif,’ M. Merleau-Ponty, Phénoménologie de la perception, Gallimard, 1945, p. 495.Google Scholar
  10. 14.
    K. Held, Lebendige Gegenwart, Nijhoff, 1966.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© D. Reidel Publishing Company, Dordrecht, Holland 1979

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Tôhoku UniversitySendaiJapan

Personalised recommendations