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On Time

Organizing Committee:


Any sensation or experience that we have can be understood only on the basis of time, only if we locate the occurrence within its temporality.  Yet, we never have an experience of time itself; time is never an object present in our world that we can intuit or conceive of.  Something like this paradox led Hegel to call time the nonsensuous sensuous. What, then, can we actually know of time?


It seems that time, much like Being, can only be known through its difference from these phenomena (time never manifests itself as such, within the phenomenal realm).  Time is only intelligible on the basis of some difference, the changes in our world that lead us to intuit a temporal progression of cause and effect, which in turn requires time as the ground of its identity and continuity.   We expect something to support the flux of our world, and yet time is only this flux; Aristotle said as much when he defined time as the "number of motion,” and Einstein said the same when he defined time as what we measure with a clock.


We will hold a series of meetings examining how time shapes the form of expression in a variety of discourses, and how these arts and sciences play with and within their peculiar temporality.  We will begin with a meeting where we consider the representation of time in the history of metaphysics, by looking at Derrida’s Given Time: I. Counterfeit Money.  Derrida locates Heidegger’s lecture “On Time and Being” on the cusp of this metaphysical tradition.  Heidegger points out, among the many paradoxes of time, that time is nothing temporal.  What is temporal arises and passes away within time, while time itself does nothing such.  As with Being, Heidegger cautions against saying "time is," as such a locution presumes what can never be a given, that time is, that it could ever come to presence as a being.  He employs an idiomatic German expression, es gibt, it gives, which would translate to the English "there is" (it gives time/there is time).  For the same reason, we must avoid asking the question "what is time," and inquire instead - Time: what gives?


jonotrain's picture

Our goal is to have as many different perspectives represented at all of our meetings, and for interested participants to host classes focused on their fields of study/work/etc.

Anyone interested in hosting a future session can post a comment here. We'd love to hear from specialists from any of the following areas (or others not mentioned here):

Theoretical Physics
Animal Behavior
Computer Science

jonotrain's picture

For those planning on coming to our first meeting at 155 Freeman on January 25th at 7 PM, the recommended reading will be the first chapter of Derrida's Given Time: 1. Counterfeit Money, the chapter entitled "The Time of the King." It can be accessed here:

For those interested in delving a little further, I would recommend Heidegger's Lecture "Time and Being," a reconsideration of the major themes of Being and Time (go figure) from later in his career. It can be accessed here: (the site design is a little strange - the lecture itself doesn't have a link in the table of contents, just scroll down through the short introduction to the heading "Time and Being")

Also, Derrida's essay "Ousia and Gramme: Note on a Note in Being and Time" is very relevant:



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