Affiliated Workshop Tense vs Tenseless Theory New Insights to and Applications of Philosophy of Time SOPhiA Conference 04th September 2014 University of Salzburg
Sonja Deppe (Landau)
Florian Fischer (Bonn / Cologne / Oxford)
Cord Friebe (Bonn)
Johannes Grössl (Innsbruck)
Thorben Petersen (Bremen)
09:00 - 09:30Johannes Grössl - Introduction
09:35 - 10:15Thorben Petersen -Reductionism about Tense
10:20 - 11:00Sonja Deppe - Experiencing time in continuous and discrete ways
11:20 -12:00Florian Fischer -Tensed Logic of Science
.short break 12:05 - 12:45Cord Friebe - Time direction, time order, and the presentist’s view on space-time
Experiencing Time in continuos and discrete ways Sonja Deppe
Reflections on time, both in contexts of metaphysics and in experience of time, encounter a certain tension between continuous and discrete aspects of time. On the one hand, we experience time as continuously flowing; on the other hand, we have a strong tendency to explain time referring to separate instants of time, discrete objects, and their different states. In my talk, I will present and explain an often neglected perspective on the matter, namely the approach of the French philosopher Henri Bergson.
In his analysis of temporal experience, Bergson yields an understanding of the two aspects of time that leads to an overall picture of time and our experience of it: For him, continuity is a crucial feature of our experience of time, and even more, temporal continuity is a crucial feature of our experience in general. Thereby, the temporal continuity – the “duration” in Bergson’s words – is directly connected with the qualitative aspect of experience: The way I perceive a certain sound in a piece of music – such as the harmonic resolution of a dissonance – can’t be understood by isolating the one sound from the others. The present moment can’t be understood by itself but rather as developing continuously out of preceding moments. Furthermore, continuity is a basic feature in Bergson’s overall view of temporal process-related reality.
Up to this point it is true that Bergson takes a firm stand in favour of a continuous view of temporal experience. At the same time, however, he gives a detailed and interesting analysis of our tendency to cope with our own durational experience in a way that introduces discrete forms of access to time and to temporal processes. For him, it is the context of acting that demands to “cut” the temporal continuity into fixed objects of differentiated states, situated at instantaneous points of time. Bergson compares the tendency to access temporal phenomena in this way with the mechanism of a film camera, taking instantaneous pictures out of the continuous progression of events to be filmed.
In his view, such a fragmentation of temporal processes does not only happen in the context of our analytical reflection but already in the context of our perception. After all we can say that this discrete way of approaching temporal processing is a basic and very natural part of our experience as well. So even if Bergson takes the continuity of time for more fundamental, he sees both our continuous experience of time and our discrete way of grasping it as related parts in the bigger context of our being incorporated in temporal processuality.
After reconstructing Bergson’s approach, I will consider its possible implications for the contemporary analytic debates about time, and show that it might open new perspectives on the reasoning about experience and ontology of time. For instance, concerning the issue of temporal passage, Bergson might help to bridge the gap between certain contrary intuitions of experience and ontology.
Tensed Logic of Science Florian Fischer
This paper brings together two debates, wich are interrelated content wise, but have had (virtually) no impact on each other. In contemporary philosophy of time the debate between so called tensed and tenseless theory is one of the main issues. Arthur Prior has famously argued that reference to the present moment is both important for our actions and not translatable without loss of meaning into just tenseless concepts and sentences. This argument has been much contested since and the sufficiency of a tenseless theory is open to controversy up until today. Independent of this the status of indexical concepts for Rudolf Carnap’s logic of science has been subject to philosophical analysis. It his hard to pin down Carnap’s position on the importance of indexicality − and thus reference to the present moment − since there is a certain tension in his own writings. His early work up until ‚Der logische Aufbau der Welt‘ differs in some important points from ideas he develops in ‚Testability and Meaning‘ or his two level conception. So the first goal of this paper is a reconstruction of Carnap’s thoughts on tense regarding the language of science. I will access not only Carnap’s own Œvre but also contrast him with other coeval philosophers, especially Otto Neurath and Carl Gustav Hempel. The second goal then goes beyond Carnap: I will argue for a tensed theory, i.e. I will try to show that it is not possible to translate tensed sentences, which are located at the core of scientific language, into tenseless counterparts without loss of meaning. I claim that tensed sentences and beliefs are needed (in the style of an transcendental argument) to anchor the tenseless physical relation of earlier/later. To do so, I will borrow an argument which Carnap himself gives in the context of measuring procedures.
Time Direction, Time Order, and the Presentist's View on Spacetime Cord Friebe
According to tenseless theories of time, time is essentially time order, characterized by the earlier-later relation between events located in spacetime. Spacetimes containing closed timelike curves, however, do not have a globally consistent time order but (only) a globally consistent time direction. It seems that time direction is more fundamental than time order, which apparently contradicts the spirit of any B-theory of time. It will be argued that presentism, by contrast, provides an understanding of "temporal succession" that is independent of an ordering relation but conceived of as being a productive succession. The present, continuously coming into being, is therefore essentially time direction, namely directed towards existence. Construed this way, the tensed theory of time copes better with general relativity than its tenseless opponents.
Introduction Johannes Grössl
In this talk I will give an overview of the debate by introducing the terminology and related issues in metaphysics and philosophy of language. He will make us acquainted with Arthur Prior's ''Thank goodness''-argument for the temporal irreducibility of tensed propositions and D. H. Mellor's opposing New Tenseless Theory of Time. Eventually, he will present and shortly discuss different theories to account for cross-time reference, among those the theory of quasi-truths by Ted Sider and the related Ersatzer Presentism advanced by Craig Bourne.
Reductionism about Tense Completness and Explanatory Metaphysical Semantics Thorben Petersen
Sider (2011) and Skow (2014) argue that a complete description of reality can be given from an atemporal perspective. In both cases, the surprising conclusion is meant to follow from the conjunction of (1) reductionism about tense, (2) completeness and (3) explanatory metaphysical semantics, namely:
Reductionism about tense: Temporally indexical sentences have tenseless truth-conditions
Completeness: A description of reality is complete iff every non-fundamental truth (or fact) is made true (or holds in virtue of) a non-fundamental truth (or fact)
Explanatory metaphysical semantics: Fundamental truths (or facts) are explanatory as of non-fundamental truths (or facts).
This talk consists of three parts. I will begin by providing a brief history of reductionism about tense, and locate the Sider/Skow-view in logical space. In the second part, I argue that the Sider/Skow-view should be rejected. This is because the set of propositions consisting of (1), (2) and (3) implies
Illumination: Tenseless sentences are explanatory as of the contents of tensed statements,
which, on any reasonable interpretation of ‘being explanatory’, is a proposition that is false. Finally, I shall argue that this conclusion is (i) not in favour of dynamical theories of time, show that (ii) the phenomenon of tense can only be explained by taking into account that enduring substances change and (iii) motivate what it means to deny that a complete description of reality can be given from an atemporal perspective.
References Sider, Theodore (2011): Writing The Book of The World. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press. Skow, Bradford (2014). Objective Becoming. Oxford: Oxford University Press.