A Vocabulary of Time

  • Kaustuv RoyEmail author


This chapter sets the context by giving an overview of historical conceptions of time beginning with a discussion on the distinction between chronos and aion of the Greeks. Aristotle and St. Maximus are invoked. This is followed by the Pauline notion of Kairos or messianic time. For Paul, worldly time or chronos is to be seen as the time of confusion; one must learn to leave it behind in order to prepare to enter into the time of the Now in which a new kind of life begins—the life of hōs mē or “as not.” One lives each thing as not having experienced or possessed it, that is, through the negation of every positivity. This suspension of positivity or revocation of temporal content (katargesis) brings about a state of being in which our relation with the world is fundamentally altered. Serious consideration of the possibility of this new state untouched by temporal formations contributes to the pedagogy of intuition that was discussed earlier. Next, there is the Thomist notion of aeviternity. Poised between time and eternity, Thomas Aquinas’s aeviternity or aevum is closer to the timeless while yet permitting change and becoming. In other words, aeviternal time is seen as the ontological and existential matrix within which beings (creative differences) make their appearance. Aquinas’s descriptions and discussion draw us into a view of reality that is close in proximity to Bergson’s notion of creative duration as the matrix of emergence. Finally, there is the discussion of Henri Bergson and duration. Duration is an ontological time that is not time of the clock or mechanical succession. It is an existential flow whose compressions and elaborations produce material life. All of these notions help to dislodge us from the conventional manner of viewing time and pedagogically prepare us toward building a creative intuition.


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© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Azim Premji UniversityBengaluruIndia

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