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There are certain important respects in which temporal properties and relations are like “primary qualities”; or, if the distinction between primary and secondary qualities cannot be maintained, temporal properties are like those “qualities” which we cannot intelligibly imagine a person being wholly unable to perceive. If questions about the “ontological status” of time have any point at all then these considerations show that time is real at least in the sense in which primary qualities are. My argument here is based on Mr. Bennett’s article, “Substance, Reality and Primary Qualities” in the American Philosophical Quarterly, Jan., 1965, pp. 1–17. Bennett has shown, I think, that the traditional distinction between primary and secondary qualities can be maintained in the sense that there is, e.g., no coherent concept of “size-blindness” (size being a primary quality) analogous to colour-blindness (colour being a secondary quality). I will not repeat Bennett’s arguments here but will simply assume his conclusion. The point for our purposes is that there is a notion of “time-blindness” precisely analogous to the incoherent notion of size-blindness. By simply observing people’s behaviour we could in certain circumstances decide whether they believed two things to be the same size (e.g., a tribesman accepts one jar of precious liquid as payment for the earlier loan of another jar of the same stuff).
KeywordsGeneral Question Conceptual Scheme Temporal Part Cyclical Time Spatial Part
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