On the History of Time

Philosopher Andrew Haas on the aristotelean understanding of time, subjective and objective perception of this phenomenon, and an aspect of being

videos | May 29, 2018

Augustine has a famous comment in The Confessions , where he says: “Ask me what time it is – I can tell you,but if you ask me what time is – I’m in a loss”. In many ways this inaugurates the history and philosophy of the meaning of time.

Philosopher Andrew Haas on various definitions of the concept of being, ancient principle "Tertium non datur", and how Heidegger changed modern philosophy

What does language tell us about time that might not yet have been included in Heidegger’s thinking of time or even into the history of philosophy of time from the Greeks up to the present? What does language tell us about time? Language tells us that being, verb, every verb, every happening, every event is tensed – it has past, present or future time. Time is expressed in language in terms of tense. This why all verbs in German are time verbs – Zeitwörter, they have their time. As linguistic tells us, words not only have time, they also have aspect. What does it mean to think of a verb as having an aspect as well? There is a difference, for example, between “I fall” and “I’m falling”. This is an aspectual difference that is not reduced to temporal difference. All verbs, even the verb “being”, have time and aspect. It is precisely this aspect that is unthought in philosophy of time.

If time is understood as a schema of sense, imagination and knowledge, that also means that sensing, imagining and knowing have an aspect. I sense continuously or discontinuously, completely, incompletely – these are not temporal determinations and cannot be reduced to temporal determinations. If time is universal even for Heidegger, so too is aspect, just as universal. Therefore, we need to think of the way, in which being both has its time (presence and absence), and its aspect (complete or incomplete).

Professor of Philosophy at National Research University Higher School of Economics, Moscow
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