Different Degrees of Temporal Span. Microcosmos as Microchronos

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


If we recognize the reality of succession in the physical world, we are admitting that physical becoming and the becoming of our consciousness move on, so to speak, in a parallel way. It is obvious that some physical processes are going on simultaneously with the unfolding and enduring qualities of our psychological duration. For instance, to our perception (including the emotional quality of our impatience) of a piece of sugar which is slowly being dissolved in the glass of water correspond certain processes in the physical world whose features are fairly well known: under the continuing impact of molecules of water the crystalline structure of sugar is loosened and its molecules gradually scattered throughout the whole volume of water. This is the most conspicuous feature of the whole phenomenon; other instances, less conspicuous and discovered later, are equally well explained in terms of the classical atomistic and kinetic framework: the increase of the viscosity of water, lowering of the freezing point and the elevation of the boiling point of the resulting solution, the change of the optical properties (the disappearance of the original transparency), etc. The feature important for our present analysis is that all these processes take time; their duration is obviously a species of duration in generaland shares one of its constant features, that is, its incompleteness, its gradual unfolding. But to what extent can this duration be analogous to the duration of consciousness?


Physical World Visual Sensation Contemporary Physic Temporal Span Intellectual Effort 
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  1. 4.
    Cf. M. Capek, The Philosophical Impact of Contemporary Physics, Van Nostrand, Princeton, 1964, esp. Ch. XIII and the relevant bibliography on p. 242.Google Scholar
  2. 5.
    H. Poincaré, Mathematics and Science: Last Essays(transl. by John W. Bolduc), Dover, New York, 1963, p. 86.Google Scholar

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© D. Reidel Publishing Company, Dordrecht, Holland 1971

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  • Milič Čapek

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