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On Time

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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” (by number he meant what counts or measures), 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?


sean's picture

Just to follow-up on your email -

karoll's email went out yesterday and the account was immediately
deleted from The Public School website. So that part is already done!

As for what happened: no email addresses were harvested. The Public
School website doesn't expose email addresses to anyone other than the
committee members who are organizing classes. Rather, when a comment is
posted to a class or a proposal, that comment is relayed by email to
everyone who is interested, which is what happened here.

Now isn't this an invitation for spam? Yes, and so there are some
measures in place to verify that an account is legitimate before their
comments will be relayed out as an email. In this way, many spam posts
get caught, never relayed, and the accounts soon deleted. But still,
some spammers go to lengths to appear legitimate, and so some still get
through. It's an ongoing issue, and we are still trying to improve the
spam-catching capabilities of the site, while balancing against sliding
down the slippery towards a fully moderated (and ultimately not very
public) site; and the fact that it is volunteer-administered.

I hope that clarifies some things for you, even if it doesn't solve the
problem of spam.


arcanacoelestia's picture

FYI, a spammer named "karoll" has apparently been harvesting email addresses from this course message board (and, I suspect, other Public School course accounts) to send out ads for some kind of medication.  I have just reported this spammer for phishing, and I advise everyone to do the same.  Also, will the PS Admin(s) please check the general membership list for this "karoll" and ban their account?  Thank you.

jonotrain's picture

A session involving Bergson would be great! I was planning on taking a look at Time and Free Will as well.


“In reality the past is preserved by itself, automatically. In its entirety, probably, it follows us at every instant; all that we have felt, thought and willed from our earliest infancy is there, leaning over the present which is about to join it, pressing against the portals of consciousness that would fain leave it outside.” Henri Bergson

I would love to suggest some Bergson readings for this course - particularly from Matter and Memory, or the above quoted Creative Evolution.

I'm excited to participate!


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