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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?


yes, looking forward very much

This sounds great, looking forward to it.

jonotrain's picture

Hey everyone,

I know I mentioned this once before, but we have a full description now for our next session of On Time. Our next class will be held on Tuesday, February 28th at 6:30 PM, at 155 Freeman in Greenpoint (same location), and it will be led by Dave Morgan, the theoretical physicist who participated in our first discussion.

(I should add that I am myself a complete novice in this field, and I found Dave Morgan incredibly good at breaking this difficult material down into an intuitive and intelligible form. There's no need to have been at our first session to join this one.)

I hope we'll see you there! Here's a full description:

The Demons of Laplace and Maxwell: Probability, Predictability, and the Arrow of Time

One of the most remarkable things about the laws of physics is their symmetry with respect to time. In both classical mechanics and quantum mechanics, the basic equations that describe the behavior of a physical system make no distinction between past and future. In this class, theoretical physicist Dave Morgan will discuss the possibility that the apparent "directionality" of time is a sort of macroscopic illusion that arises out of our incomplete knowledge of the physical world at any given moment.

lost track of time and missed the first meeting! needless to say, i am quite glad to be presented with an additional opportunity to attend!

jonotrain's picture

Hey all,

Thank you to Lewis and Britt - I think that a class about mysticism and one about economics/politics/Marxism would be great - I'll ask around to see if I can find someone to teach them. Also, anyone who would be interested in leading a class on these or any other topics should feel free to get in touch just by posting a message here. And do continue suggesting topics for future classes - it's helpful to see where everyone's interest lies.

Looking forward to seeing you all at our next meeting! (Tuesday, Feb 28th)


Hi Lewis and Everyone,

Delving into mysticism and Eckhart/others sounds like a great idea. I've read somewhere that light doesn't travel per se, so the idea of measuring it's speed is a fallacy... a similar perspective could be applied to time.

Also, another interesting direction to focus on would be the giving of time... this seems like the most tangible way to dissect it's nature, since it sort of commodifies it. Maybe since the giving of one's time is so easy to understand on a surface level, it doesn't pique much interest (hence the penchant for more skewed understandings of it's nature, e.g. pop culture's concept of time travel). However, the giving/receiving of time seems like an excellent way to understand or think about the current issues with the economy... but who wants to think about that, haha.

Thanks for your time ;)


Hi Jonathan et al.

Derrida, as I understand it, outlined the way we in the west are habituated to think, feel and act within a conception of time formed centuries ago.

I wonder if the people we call mystics are in fact those who explicate a way of being outside of (this) time. I wonder, therefore, on the subject of TIME if it might not be interesting to consider those "mystics" in the West who have written about time. Miester Eckhart in the Christian tradition, whose writings I read in college, comes to mind but I am sure there are others that could be accessed.

Would anyone else be interested in pursuing this approach and, if yes, is there someone more knowledgeable than myself who could direct discussion?


jonotrain's picture

Hi all,

I am excited to say that the next session of Time class has been scheduled. We'll be meeting at 155 Freeman in Greenpoint once again, on Tuesday, February 28th at 6:30 PM.

Dave Morgan, the theoretical physicist who joined our first discussion will be leading this class. I'll be posting in the near future with a more detailed description of his topic.

I should mention too that there is no need to have been to our previous discussion in order to join us for this one.


jonotrain's picture


Fear not - On Time will be moving ahead exactly as you've suggested. Some of the participants in our first discussion will be leading their own (more focused) sessions soon - I'll be posting here in a few days once we get the details worked out.

opps sorry my internet is tonight really slow so I ended up hitting submit twice



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