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The existence of so many strangely puzzling, even contradictory, aspects of 'time' is due, I think, to the fact that we obtain our ideas about temporal succession from more than one source - from inner experience, on the one side, and from the physical world on the other. 'Time' is thus a composite notion and as soon as we distinguish clearly between the ideas deriving from the different sources it becomes apparent that there is not just one time-concept but several. Perhaps they should be called variants, but in any case they need to be seen as distinct. In this book I shall aim at characteri­ sing what I believe to be the three most basic of them. These form a sort of hierarchy of increasing richness, but diminishing symmetry. Any adequate inquiry into 'time' is necessarily partly scientific and partly philosophical. This creates a difficulty since what may be elementary reading to scientists may not be so to philosophers, and vice versa. For this reason I have sought to present the book at a level which is less 'advanced' than that of a specialist monograph. Due to my own background there is an inevitable bias towards the scientific aspects oftime. Certainly the issues I have taken up are very diffe­ rent from those discussed in several recent books on the subject by philoso­ phers.

Inhaltsverzeichnis

Frontmatter

Time as a Many-Tiered Construct

Frontmatter

Chapter 1. The Problem Situation

Abstract
The concept of time is not one we could easily do without and yet it presents us at almost every turn with tantalising paradoxes and largely unresolved issues. No doubt it was first created by the ancients to enable them to cope with the fact that things are changing; the clouds are moving and changing their shapes; plants are growing and withering; the positions of the heavenly bodies are slowly shifting; and men themselves progress inevitably from birth to death. The great value of the time concept is that it provides a systematization; all such events and processes of change can be treated as elements within a unique serial order.
Kenneth G. Denbigh

Chapter 2. The Objectivity1 of Time

Abstract
It will be useful to begin with a brief passage from The Critique of Pure Reason. At the commencement of his discussion of ‘time’ Kant says: “Time is not an empirical concept that has been derived from any experience. For neither coexistence nor succession would ever come within our perception if the representation of time were not presupposed as underlying them a priori. Only on the presupposition of time can we represent to ourselves a number of things as existing at one and the same time (simultaneously) or at different times (successively).”… “… the concept of alteration, and with it the concept of motion, as alteration of place, is possible only through and in the representation of time;…”
Kenneth G. Denbigh

Chapter 3. The Objectivity2 of Time

Abstract
As has been said, the notion of the temporal order was pre-scientific and was based on publicly agreed experience. Nevertheless it had proved entirely adequate for the purpose of giving dates and times to events, and of course relativistic effects were still unknown.
Kenneth G. Denbigh

Chapter 4. The Problem of ‘The Present’

Abstract
One of the few things that can be said with confidence about the subject matter of this chapter is that people do indeed experience a preferred moment, a ‘now’ or ‘present’. Furthermore the sensations occurring ‘at’, or ‘within’, this preferred moment can be intersubjectively agreed; for example concerning what the clock reads or concerning your utterances and mine. Without this consensus (as we shall see later it would be a mistake to call it a ‘simultaneity’) it would seem impossible that we could converse with each other. In short ‘the present’, is quite clearly objective1. The question to be raised is whether it is also objective2.
Kenneth G. Denbigh

Temporal Processes

Frontmatter

Chapter 5. The Interplay of Chance and Causality

Abstract
The following chapters will be about three distinctive kinds of temporal change: processes occurring in inanimate nature; processes of the living; and finally processes related to consciousness. Questions to be asked will include how these processes are to be characterised, and to what extent they are really distinct from each other. First, however, I need to take up a very general issue: Whether these kinds of process are fully ‘law-bound’, or whether they exhibit chance effects or randomness. This is the long-debated issue about determinism versus indeterminism.
Kenneth G. Denbigh

Chapter 6. Thermodynamics and the Temporal Asymmetries

Abstract
The possibility of establishing an objective2 criterion of ‘later than’ was discussed in a preliminary fashion in § 3.4 and 3.5. It will be recalled that a standard irreversible process was invoked, and that fluctuation phenomena were disregarded for reason of simplicity. The status of ‘time’s direction’ must now be considered much more carefully. Two of the key questions are whether the supposed anisotropy of the temporal order can be based on physical science, and, if so, whether the anisotropy is cosmically pervasive and applies to all epochs.
Kenneth G. Denbigh

Chapter 7. Temporal Ongoings in Biology

Abstract
As was said in Chapter 1, it was formerly ‘read into’ physical science that the universe is passive and inert, and has no initiating powers of its own. This was due to the influence of determinism, and indeed the possibility of discovering scientific laws had seemed to depend, to many of the classical physicists and also to many philosophers, on the reality of a strict determinism in the occurrence of events. The very existence of physics and chemistry appeared to require that everything takes place as if laid down, in posse, at The Beginning.
Kenneth G. Denbigh

Chapter 8. Time and Consciousness

Abstract
We know about ‘time’ from two distinct sources: from various changes and motions in the external world; and secondly and more directly, from inner experience. That there are these two sources suggests that ‘time’ provides a link between the physical and the mental — the theme I shall be exploring in the present chapter.
Kenneth G. Denbigh

Backmatter

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