The Unreality of Durationless Instants: Becoming not Mathematically Continuous

  • Milič Čapek
Part of the Boston Studies in the Philosophy of Science book series (BSPS, volume 7)


The heterogeneity of time logically implies the denial of another cherished dogma of classical thought: the concept of the infinite divisibility of time. This concept is closely connected, though not entirely identical, with the concept of instant. Every interval of time, no matter how small, contains, according to the classical view, its component sub-intervals, which in their turn can still be subdivided, and so on ad infinitum. There are no indivisible intervals of time; the only truly indivisible elements of time are durationless instants with no temporal thickness. In this respect there was a remarkable agreement among classical thinkers, and the terms ‘homogeneity’, ‘infinite divisibility’ and ‘mathematical continuity’ were altogether synonymous. But psychological experience is decisively and unambiguously opposed to the concept of infinitely divisible time and the correlative concept of a durationless instant.


Psychological Continuity Infinite Divisibility Mathematical Present Inspire Motive Auditory Sensation 
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Copyright information

© D. Reidel Publishing Company, Dordrecht, Holland 1971

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  • Milič Čapek

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