Bauhaus-Universität Weimar

Dictionary of philosophy and psychology including many of the principal conceptions of ethics, logics, aesthetics ... and giving a terminology in English, French, German and Italian, vol. 2 [lead-zwing]
Baldwin, James Mark
distance in its parts is observed, lie does not 
explain. Moreover, his psychological analysis 
is hardly intended as a denial of the reality 
of absolute time, but rather presupposes it, 
limiting only our knowledge of it to its sen¬ 
sible measures. But in the context of an in¬ 
quiry into the nature and limits of knowledge, 
where the relation of idea and object was 
everywhere confused, it readily lent itself to 
the more radical interpretation. Accordingly 
we find Berkeley, * embrangled,’ as he says, in 
inextricable difficulties when trying to think 
time in the abstract, declaring that time is 
nothing but the succession of ideas (Pr. Kn., 
§ 98; Life, 177), and in this he is followed 
by Hume (Tr., Pt. II. sec. iii). Both writers, 
appealing to experience and refusing to recog¬ 
nize the reality of mere abstractions, deny 
that time is infinitely divisible, conceiving it 
rather as made up of discrete moments, each 
with the duration of a single idea k The 
general criticism of this view is that it im¬ 
plies the wholly fictitious representation of 
experience as made up of trains of discrete 
ideas. More particularly, successive impres¬ 
sions cannot of themselves account for the 
perception of succession. Successive impres¬ 
sions may be subjectively distinguished with¬ 
out consciousness of time at all. Conversely, 
a mental process without successively distin¬ 
guished parts is found, when measured by 
objective standards, to occupy a time-interval 
of appreciable and theoretically divisible ex¬ 
tent. It is true, there is a least amount of 
time which can be sensibly experienced, and 
the time of our empirical consciousness is so 
far free from the perplexities involved in the 
infinite divisibility of the time of our intellec¬ 
tual construction. But this construction may 
not simply be ignored. Finally, the character 
of time itself is not rightly apprehended, and 
cannot, therefore, be rightly accounted for 
when permanence and continuity are sacri¬ 
ficed to mere succession ; and the latter, which 
is not time at all, but at best only in time, 
is made to do duty for the manifold of rela¬ 
tions implied in the temporal order. On the 
other hand, Newton’s conception of time is 
full of obscurities and contradictions. An 
absolute time with an independent flow would 
seem to require another time in which it 
flowed and by which its rate of flow was 
1 Cf. Locke : ‘ a moment . . . is the time of one idea 
in our minds ’ (Ess., loc. cit., § 9). Albertus Magnus 
(.Phys., iii. 3) cites Avicenna as objecting generally to 
the view of time as wholly mental, that it makes 
time consist of an aggregation of moments. 
measured, and so in infinitum. And the 
flowing of time, if literally taken, is quite 
unintelligible. Does it flow as a whole, or 
only in its parts? There is absurdity in 
either supposition. For if it flow as a whole, 
then as the whole of time includes both past 
and future, the latter must be always existent 
simultaneously. And the same is true if only 
the parts flow, for these are its parts. But 
does it flow at all ? Why does it not rather 
‘ stand ’ as the permanent medium for the 
flowing sequence of events ? But this, too, 
is also impossible, if the purely objective view 
of time be taken ; for the parts of time are 
successive. And there is the further difficulty 
about abstract time, that its parts are never 
together, and that there is no final term (cf. 
Lotze, Met., 268 ft.). 
In the Kantian doctrine that time is an 
a priori form of the inner sense, an intuition 
or form of intuition empirically real, i. e. valid, 
but transcendentally ideal, i. e. with no signi¬ 
ficance for things-in-themselves (Diss., § 14, 
Krit. d. reinen Vernunft, Tr. Aesth., ii), the 
earlier view of time as a way of thinking is 
developed and defined. The principal ob¬ 
jection to Hume’s theory is here met by the 
implied presence, to the succession of impres¬ 
sions, of the unchanging synthetic unity of 
consciousness. Here at last we find the unity 
which Aristotle desiderates in the identity of 
the moving ‘ now.’ Again, the difficulties in 
the mathematical conception of Newton dis¬ 
appear, or, at least, appear less formidable, 
when it is seen that the continuity, homo¬ 
geneity, endlessness, and infinite divisibility 
it attributes to time belong, not to an inde¬ 
pendent entity, but merely to the way we 
represent the connection of process in the 
objects of our actual or ideally possible per¬ 
ception. And the doctrine has the further 
positive advantage of plausibly explaining the 
wide range of our universal and supposedly 
a priori cognitions of time and of other cogni¬ 
tions of like character in which the mathe¬ 
matical conception of time is presupposed1. 
As in the case of space, Kant finds peculiar 
confirmation of his theory in the antinomy 
which results from taking the temporal order 
of events to be something independent of the 
subjective conditions of possible experience. 
1 Schopenhauer enumerates 28 apriori praedicabilia 
of time alone (W. a. W., ii. 55 f.). Time, as such, 
is not the basis of any mathematical science, though 
Schopenhauer, and perhaps Kant, held it to be the 
foundation of arithmetic ; but it is presupposed in the 
laws of motion and mathematical mechanics. 


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