18 February 2011

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I am finally getting to the bit of the book where Sartre discusses his ideas about time, instead of just talking about what others have discussed and where they have gone wrong.

Apparently he sees time as both a continuous thing and a series (i.e. made up of a set of moments), which is fair enough. He also thinks that temporality is only available to being-for-itself. Which is kind of true by definition I guess. The whole concept of temporality as an awareness of things moving from one moment to the next is naturally only available to things that are conscious. The question is I guess whether time would still pass if the world consisted only of tables (being in itself). If the tables still move from moment to moment in exactly the same way as they would if some being for itself was observing and saying “that’s the same table” then what is the point of talking about temporality. It doesn’t really tell us anything about us except that we are aware of things, and we already knew that.     

I had to go to a building and pest inspection this morning, and I had the rest of the day off so I had big plans for loads of sewing in the afternoon. I didn’t get very far because it was just too hot. I managed 3 blocks though.

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2 responses »

  1. Time’s a tricky one, because our awareness of ourselves and the world is so bound up with it. However there are some fundamental strangenesses about time that we (lumping myself in with physicists) don’t really understand the cause of. In particular it is not clear why time is not symmetrical (ie why you can’t just run time backwards and forwards and get the same results), and why it seems to have a clear direction. But generally I think, that even without observers (sentiences or being-for-itselves as you will) time would flow, as it seems to be tied up with the nature of time in our universe to do so. The Second Law of Thermodynamics was around before we were.

  2. Excuse garbled thoughts from a non-physicist but maybe it has something to do with the way the universe was created. If the universe is expanding outwards from the point of the big bank maybe time is doing the same thing. Didn’t someone once have a theory that the universe is like a giant elastic band and that at some point it will stop expanding and start contracting back to a single point? Maybe when it does time will start going backwards too.

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