Thursday, November 08, 2007

(How) Is the Present Special?

Yesterday, at the LOGOS Seminar, Sven presented his views on how to account for the intuition that the present is special, taking anti-presentism for granted.

Unfortunately, I’m very unfamiliar with debates on these extremely complicated issues in the philosophy of time—so that for instance it wasn’t clear which was exactly the content of the invoked intuition, nor thus what would qualify as vindicating it, and in particular why it didn’t work the proposal that it consisted in the present time exemplifying the irreducible property of being present. In any case, I worried how Sven proposal in terms of the present times occupying the object NOW ultimately differed from the considered proposal. In discussion, some other people seemed to share this concern. (If I don’t misremember, Sven suggested that his could work without the metaphor of “occupying” that object, by invoking relations of variable temporal distance to an object (which is therefore not a time). But as it issued in discussion with Sebas, it’s not clear that the latter notion is more illuminating than the former.)

On reflection, I also share Manolo M’s other concern: there seems to be as much reason to posit NOW as to posit also TOMORROW, TWO DAYS AGO, and so on. Thus, at each moment, every time occupies one of these “transcendental” positions. The original worry would then reappear: in which sense is NOW special?

Any thoughts?


Andi said...

As to the second concern, it seems to me that NOW is the only transcendental time that doesn't make presuppositions as to whether time extends infinitely into past and future. If there is a transcendental TOMORROW, for example, then time cannot stop at some point, for on the last day there would be no TOMORROW. Similarly with YESTERDAY and the very first day after time began to roll.

Dan López de Sa said...

"...for on the last day there would be no TOMORROW."
Why? No time would ocupy it, but why can't it be?