General Questions

  • T. Chapman
Part of the Synthese Library book series (SYLI, volume 159)


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).


General Question Conceptual Scheme Temporal Part Cyclical Time Spatial Part 
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  1. 1.
    R. Taylor, “Spatial and Temporal Analogies and the Concept of Identity” in Problems of Space and Time, ed., J. J. C. Smart, London: Collier-Macmillan Ltd., 1964, pp. 381–396.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    J. Jarvis Thomson, “Time, Space and Objects”. Mind, January, 1965, pp. 1–27.Google Scholar
  3. 6.
    E. M. Zemach, “Many Times”, Analysis, vol. 28, No. 5, April 1968, pp. 145–151. My own criticism of this paper, also in Analysis, no longer seems to me to be correct.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 7.
    E. M. Zemach, “Many Times”, Analysis, vol. 28, No. 5, April 1968, pp. 146 - 147.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 9.
    A. Quinton, “Spaces and times”, Philosophy 37 (1967) pp. 130–147. The other references are given in footnote 6 above.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 13.
    Cf. P. T. Geach, “Some Problems About Time”, London: Oxford University Press, 1965, Proceedings of the British Academy, pp. 321–333.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© D. Reidel Publishing Company, Dordrecht, Holland 1982

Authors and Affiliations

  • T. Chapman
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyUniversity of GuelphCanada

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