Human Time



In this section we shall explore the question: What aspects of time are a result of the existence of human beings who perceive and talk about time? We are concerned with finding out what features of our concept of time have only an anthropomorphic significance. This large question will be broken up into three smaller ones: (1) What distinction is there between the perceptual present and the real or physical present? (2) Is temporal becoming subjective? and (3) To what extent does the grammatical structure of our language determine our way of conceiving time?


Physical Event Mental Event Clock Time World Line Specious Present 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Works expounding or criticizing some version of the doctrine of the “specious present” (which is taken up in the article by Mabbott in this volume) are: W. James, The Principles of Psychology, Henry Holt, New York, 1890, Vol. IGoogle Scholar
  2. W. P. Montague, “A Theory of Time Perception,” in The Ways of Things, pp. 363-81Google Scholar
  3. E. Husserl, The Phenomenology of Internal Time-Consciousness, ed. by M. Heidegger and tr. by J. S. Churchill, Indiana University Press, Bloomington, Ind., 1964Google Scholar
  4. Broad, Scientific Thought, cited earlier in fullGoogle Scholar
  5. L. E. Akeley, “The Problem of the Specious Present and Physical Time,” JP, 22 (1925)Google Scholar
  6. C. D. Broad, An Examination of McTaggart’s Philosophy, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1938, Part II, vol. I, pp. 281 ff.Google Scholar
  7. Mabbott, “The Specious Present,” M, 64 (1955)Google Scholar
  8. P. Fraisse, The Psychology of Time, tr. by J. Leith, Eyre and Spottiswoode, 1964.Google Scholar
  9. Grünbaum’s thesis that temporal becoming is psychological or mind-dependent is also espoused by: B. Russell, “On the Experience of Time,” Monist, 25 (1915);.R. M. Blake, “On Mr. Broad’s Theory of Time,” M, 34 (1925)Google Scholar
  10. Braithwaite, “Time and Change,” cited earlier in fullGoogle Scholar
  11. A. S. Eddington, The Nature of the Physical World, Macmillan, New York, 1928Google Scholar
  12. Eddington, Space, Time, and Gravitation, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1920Google Scholar
  13. H. Weyl, Philosophy of Mathematics and Natural Science, based on a tr. by OlafGoogle Scholar
  14. Helmer, Princeton University Press, Princeton, N.J., 1949Google Scholar
  15. H. Bergmann, Der Kampf um das Kausalgesetz in der jüngsten Physik, F. Vieweg and Son, Braunschweig, 1929Google Scholar
  16. C. J. Ducasse, Nature, Mind, and Death, Open Court, La Salle, Ill., 1951Google Scholar
  17. A. Grünbaum, Philosophical Problems of Space and Time, Alfred A. Knopf, New York,. 1963. Those who have argued that becoming is not mind-dependent are: C. D. Broad, “Time and Change,” PAS, Supp. Vol. 8 (1928)Google Scholar
  18. H. Reichenbach, “Die Kausalstruktur der Welt und der Unterschied von Vergangenheit und Zukunft,” Berichte der Bayerischen Akademie München, Mathematisch-Naturwissenschaftliche Abteilung (November 1925)Google Scholar
  19. P. Marhenke, “McTaggart’s Analysis of Time,” cited earlier in fullGoogle Scholar
  20. L. S. Stebbing, “Some Ambiguities in Discussions Concerning Time,” cited earlier in fullGoogle Scholar
  21. H. Reichenbach, The Direction of Time, University of California Press, Berkeley, 1956Google Scholar
  22. M. Capek, The Philosophical Impact of Contemporary Physics, D. Van Nostrand, Princeton, N.J., 1961Google Scholar
  23. G. J. Whitrow, The Natural Philosophy of Time, Thomas Nelson & Sons, London and Edinburgh, 1961. Some philosophers, using H. Reichenbach’s treatment of tensed verbs as token-reflexive words in his Elements of Symbolic Logic, Macmillan, New York, 1947, have argued that becoming is subjective because A-determinations involve a reference to the subject qua language-user: among the defenders of this view are Ayer, The Problem of Knowledge, and Smart, Philosophy and Scientific Realism, both cited earlier in full. Those who have argued that tensed verbs are not token-reflexive are: Wisdom, “Time, Fact, and Substance,” cited earlier in fullGoogle Scholar
  24. Broad, An Examination of McTaggart’s Philosophy, cited earlier in fullGoogle Scholar
  25. F. B. Ebersole, “Verb Tenses as Expressors and Indicators,” A, 12 (1952)Google Scholar
  26. J. Jorgensen, “Some Reflections of Re-flexivity,” M, 62 (1953)Google Scholar
  27. Findlay, “An Examination of Tenses,” cited earlier in fullGoogle Scholar
  28. K. W. Rankin, “Referential Identifiers,” American Philosophical Quarterly, 1 (1964)Google Scholar
  29. R. M. Gale, “The Egocentric Particular and Token-Reflexive Analyses of Tense,” PR, 73 (1964)Google Scholar
  30. Gale, “Pure and Impure Descriptions,” Australasian Journal of Philosophy, 1966.Google Scholar
  31. Some of the significant treatments of time by existentialists are: M. Heidegger, Kant and the Problem of Metaphysics, tr. by J. S. Churchill, Indiana University Press, Blooming-ton, Ind., 1962Google Scholar
  32. Heidegger, Being and Time, tr. by J. Mac-quarrie and E. Robinson, Harper & Row, New York, 1962Google Scholar
  33. Jean-Paul Sartre, Being and Nothingness, tr. by H. Barnes, Philosophical Library, New York, 1956Google Scholar
  34. M. Merleau-Ponty, Phenemenology of Perception, tr. by C. Smith, Rout-ledge & Kegan Paul, London, 1962.Google Scholar
  35. For a detailed bibliography of B. L. Whorf’s writings see Language, Thought, and Reality, J. B. Carroll, ed., Massachusetts Institute of Technology Press, Cambridge, Mass., 1956.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Richard M. Gale 1968

Authors and Affiliations

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations