» Home

published in: Time in Modern Intellectual Thought, ed. by Patrick Baert, Amsterdam and New York, Elsevier, 1999.
German translation in: Die Wiederentdeckung der Zeit, ed. by Antje Gimmler, Mike Sandbothe and Walther Ch. Zimmerli, Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, Darmstadt, 1997.

Mike Sandbothe

The Temporalization of Time in Modern Philosophy

The subject of 'time' has occupied both scholars and the layman repeatedly throughout the course of the twentieth century, but has acquired particular importance and a certain brisance over the last two decades. The current vogue for time is a multidisciplinary one, in fields ranging from the humanities, social sciences, history, literature, media theory and linguistics through to medicine, law, sciences and economics. This situation, characterized by a plurality of heterogenous concepts, lends particular significance to philosophical debate about the problem of time. The central problem for contemporary philosophy is to relate to one another the varying conceptions of time developing in individual disciplines. The different approaches to this task are embedded in the following three basic tendencies which define the contemporary philosophy of time.

1. The Three Basic Tendencies in Contemporary Philosophy of Time

The first basic tendency in contemporary philosophy of time may be described as the tendency to unify our understanding of time. The protagonists of this unification tendency are convinced that time's validity is that of being a new Archimedean Point which unifies our everyday experience of the self and the world with our academic theories about nature and man. This point of unification, they contend, has been emphasized time and time again in philosophy (for instance by von Baader, Schelling, Bergson or Whitehead), but has been ignored for far too long by science and technology. It wasn't until the second half of this century that a global time concept was developed and mathematically implemented at the interface between physics, chemistry and biology within the framework of the so-called theories of "self-organization". According to the proponents of the unification tendency this new conception of time enables the old duality between natural time and historical time to be overcome and resolves the conflict between physical, biological and philosophical approaches to time which had characterized the first half of the twentieth century. Against this background the German theoretician of time, Hermann Lübbe, observed, "that even the temporal structure of historicality, which, according to Heidegger and the hermeneutic theory which followed him, results exclusively from the subject's relationship to itself, which constitutes meaning, is in reality a structure belonging to all open and dynamic systems which is indifferent to the subject matter." Lübbe's convergence theorem can be supported by the deliberations of the Nobel prize-winning physicist, chemist and self-organization theorist Ilya Prigogine, who noted as early as 1973, in the light of his thermodynamic theory of irreversibility: "Whatever the future of these ideas, it seems to me that the dialogue between physics and natural philosophy can begin on a new basis. I don't think that I can exaggerate by stating that the problem of time marks specifically the divorce between physics on one side, psychology and epistemology on the other. (...). We see that physics is starting to overcome these barriers."

The convergence theorem, which lies at the heart of the unification tendency in contemporary philosophy of time, remains however by no means undisputed. Paul Ricoeur, the French phenomenologist, opposes this for example with his diagnosis of an inpenetrable incommensurability between historical and natural time. Ricoeur's outset serves to illustrate the second basic tendency in contemporary philosophy of time, namely the tendency to split time into a multitude of mutually incompatible heterogenous concepts. As a representative of this pluralization tendency, Ricoeur regards "the break, on the level of epistemology, between phenomenological time on the one hand and astronomical, physical, and biological time on the other" as being insurmountable. In the light of the underlying discontinuity which exists "between a time without a present [natural time - M.S.] and a time with a present [historical time - M.S.]" , Ricoeur describes the alleged coherence between the two heterogenous understandings of time as being "a phenomenon of mutual contamination" through which "the notion of history had been extrapolated from the human sphere to the natural sphere."

From Ricoeur's perspective, the "reciprocal overlapping of the notions of change (or evolution) and history" is factually without foundation, and is as such to be refuted. Ricoeur reasons, "whatever the interferences between the time with a present and the time without a present, they presuppose the fundamental distinction between an anonymous instant and a present defined by the instance of discourse that designates this present reflexively." Hence, to Ricoeur, "it (...) seems impossible (...) to include phenomenological time in the time of nature, whether it is a question of quantum time, thermodynamic time, the time of galactic transformations, or that of the evolution of species." Phenomenological time consisting in a dimension of future, past and present is explained by Ricoeur as being appropriate only in the narrative medium. And time in the narrative "refiguration" itself becomes comprehensible only up to a point. Finally, for Ricoeur, time marks the "mystery" in our thought which denies representation in that our existence irrevocably pervades our thinking. This negativistic feature of Ricoeur's is also found in Emmanuel Levinas' and Michael Theunissen's philosophical thoughts on time.

The third basic trend in contemporary philosophy of time is best seen when one considers the common assumptions which relate the thesis of convergence and its antithesis of an irreconcilable divergence between natural and historical time. In both cases time is considered as being a basic universal structure which disavows itself of historical contingency and cultural change. Those who advocate the tendency towards unification regard the "ontological universality of the temporality aspect" as having been proved through the unity of historized natural time in theories of self-organization. Proponents of the incommensurability of time argue quite differently, but reach a similar result. According to them, the plurality of time refers to a negative unity in time, which even in principle defies representation, but which seems to be factually evident through the experience of its unrepresentability. Ricoeur for example sees the narrative "totalization" and the associated "universal ambition of the metahistorical categories of historical thought" as being confirmed in the essentially irreconcilable phenomenological "fundamental" of our experience of time.

The third basic tendency which is of importance in the contemporary philosophy of time deviates from the two previously discussed with regard to the universality and ahistoricality of time presupposed by the first two tendencies. Supporters of the third tendency, the tendency to relativize and historize time, assume that the role time plays for human understanding of the self and of the world is an aspect of practical means of interaction with the world, which is culturally divergent and, within individual cultures, subject to change over time. The American pragmatist Richard Rorty represents this basic idea with particular refinement. According to Rorty, a radical approach to time must do away with the conception, based on theology, that time and eternity come together in man. This old, prevalent, totalitarian philosophy has had its day. Instead of this Rorty demands, "that we [should] try to get to the point where we no longer worship anything, where we treat nothing as a quasi divinity, where we treat everything - our language, our conscience, our community - as a product of time and chance." According to Rorty, we will only achieve this when we no longer mystify time, but understand it in a radically reflexive way as being a product of chance.

The interrelations between the different conceptions of time which are currently being discussed in academia, as well as the question of the relationship between academic and everyday perceptions of time, are to be dealt with pragmatically on the basis of the historization tendency, as represented by Rorty. The convergence of different vocabularies of time is, from Rorty's perspective, by no means proof of an intrinsic coincidence between natural and historical time. The transfer of the vocabulary of historical time from the context of human self-description into the realms of the natural world, as well as the mathematically operational implementation of time, illustrate only the historical ability to adapt, inner flexibility and contextual feedback even in a highly attuned vocabulary such as that found in physics and mathematics. In Rorty's view, the different vocabularies which we make use of for differing purposes and in varying contexts are to be understood as neither convergent in an intrinsic sense, nor as being essentially incommensurate in a phenomenological sense. Rather, they are themselves subject to change over time, through which they become related and disjoined in various ways according to the various historical situations which arise.

The radical temporalization of time which is expressed in these deliberations has already been outlined literarily by the Austrian novelist Robert Musil. In his novel The Man without Qualities he writes, "The train of events is a train unrolling its rails ahead of itself. The river of time is a river sweeping its banks along with it. The traveller moves about on a solid floor between solid walls; but the floor and the walls are being moved along too, imperceptibly, and yet in very lively fashion, by the movements that his fellow-travellers make." The inner reflexivity in the modern apprehension of time, which Musil enounces here, was introduced within philosophy by the differing approaches of Kant and Heidegger respectively. The second part of my considerations concerns itself with this twofold foundation, in which the debate between universality and ahistoricality of time on the one hand and relativity and historicality of time on the other hand is central.

2) The Reflexive Temporalization of Time in Modern Philosophy by Kant and Heidegger

The transcendental philosophy of time, from Kant's Transcendental Aesthetic in the Critique of Pure Reason, may be described as the Magna Carta of modern philosophy of time. In the Critique, Kant ordained time as being reflexive, i.e. with recourse to the basic constitution of human subjectivity as being "a pure form of sensible intuition." There is almost no single philosophical theory which has been so oft misunderstood as this, Kant's designation of time as a pure form of sensible intuition. The standard misinterpretation is that Kant, with his theory, had refuted the reality of time and downgraded it to being a mere subjective illusion. This miscomprehension is widespread not only amongst philosophers but, above all, amongst scientists.

The following quote from the British philosopher, and founder of analytical philosophy of time, John M.E. McTaggart provides a significant example of the insistence with which this miscomprehension had established itself within philosophy. In his famous 1908 essay The Unreality of Time he writes, "In philosophy, again, time is treated as unreal by Spinoza, by Kant, by Hegel and by Schopenhauer." Scientists such as Albert Einstein or Kurt Gödel also went along with this prejudice. Gödel, whose view was that time had lost its "objective meaning" through the "relativity of simultaneity" which Einstein had proven, writes: "In short, it seems that one obtains an unequivocal proof for the view of those philosophers who, like Parmenides, Kant, and the modern idealists, deny the objectivity of change and consider change as an illusion or an appearance due to our special mode of perception." Just as Gödel praises Einstein's work as being the physical evidence of the unreality of time, McTaggart commends his own work as being an analytic variant of the proof of time's unreality, as is allegedly demanded by Kant. In this context McTaggart writes, "I believe that time is unreal. But I do so for reasons which are not, I think, employed by any of the philosophers whom I have mentioned (...)."

At this point it would be going too far to expand on McTaggart's proof in detail. In summary however, it may be said that what McTaggart proves is nothing other than what Kant had shown long ago: namely not - as McTaggart believed - that time is absolutely unreal, but rather that time has no reality which is independent of the subject. This is an important difference. If time has no subject-independent reality, then it lacks only a certain kind of reality - and not reality altogether. Thus it is not the case that time is unreal in an indiscriminate sense, and just a mere illusion. Further, to have no subject-independent reality is by no means a deficit which devalues time's being in contrast to other things. As Michael Dummett highlighted in his essay McTaggart's Proof of the Unreality of Time: A Defence the idea of time as a subject-independent, fully describable reality is in itself a fiction. A fiction which presupposes that we have access to a world through which - detached from our finite perceptory conditions - we connect, in a quasi-devine sense, with entities' inner-being. It is this fiction which Kant had put an end to.

In contrast to the assumptions made by McTaggart and Gödel in the quotes mentioned here, it was by no means Kant's aim to question the objectiveness of time by reducing it to the level of 'illusion' and 'mere appearance'. The Kantian coupling of time, traditionally conceptualized as a structure of the world in itself by Newton and Leibniz, with the transcendental subject, is far more an attempt to base time's objectivity on a new, transcendental plane whilst considering the justified doubts expressed by Hume about the traditional Leibnizian-Newtonian view. The point of Kant's reasoning is that time can be unevadable and a priori - i.e. generally valid and necessary - only when it's proven to be an intersubjective condition for the possibility of knowledge in general.

Kant accentuates sensible intuition as the fundament of all human knowledge - this in contrast to the traditional, Platonic idea of knowledge, prevalent until the time of Leibniz and Newton, according to which only the intelligible can be a true object of knowledge. This basic proposition is contained in the first sentence of the Critique of Pure Reason, which reads, "In whatever manner and by whatever means a mode of knowledge may relate to objects, intuition is that through which it is in immediate relation to them, and to which all thought as a means is directed." It is this basic proposition, of the primacy of intuition as the main condition in enabling of all human knowledge, which one must consider in order to understand how far Kant's proof that time is "a pure form of sensible intuition" simultaneously assures its empirical objectivity and transcendental quasi-universality.

Kant's simple proposition, which Gödel fails to consider along with most other physicists who've come up against the Kantian conception of time, is that all knowledge accessible to humankind - and that includes humankind in our pursuing science (e.g. in physics) - is sensual, that is temporal intuition. Thus Kant tries to assert the empirical objectivity of time through its transcendental subjectivism. This connection is expressed in the following, much cited, excerpt from the Transcendental Aesthetic. First it appears that Kant really does want to deny time all reality. He writes, "Time is therefore a purely subjective condition of our (human) intuition (which is always sensible, that is, so far as we are affected by objects), and in itself, apart from the subject, is nothing." However, the next sentence, which is mostly omitted in citation, is decisive. This states, "Nevertheless, in respect of all appearances, and therefore of all the things which can enter into our experience, it is necessarily objective." With this in mind, Kant then speaks of the "empirical reality" of time, that is to say of its "objective validity in respect of all objects, which allow of ever being given to our senses."

Along with the already mentioned misconception about the unreality of time, an influential second shortfall distinguishes the reception of Kant's philosophy of time. Strictly speaking, this shortfall is less a misunderstanding than a failure to understand, that is to say perceiving the theory with a narrowed outlook. Decisive aspects of Kant's thinking about time have long been eclipsed, in the mould of Schopenhauer and Hegel, by its being equated with the treatment of time in the Transcendental Aesthetic. This equation was addressed, with recourse to insights gained from Heidegger's book Kant and the Problem of Metaphysics (1929), by the German philosopher Klaus Düsing in his Examination of Kant's Theory of Time and its Critical Modern Reception. As Düsing emphasizes at the beginning of his examination, "Kant's theory of time is of course contained only incompletely in the Transcendental Aethetic of the Critique of Pure Reason; essential details of this theory are found in the following sections (...)." Similarly in §10 of Heidegger's Kantbuch: "The following interpretation will reveal how time in the course of the development of the several stages of the foundation of metaphysics comes more and more to the fore and thereby reveals its proper essence in a more original way than is possible by means of the provisional characterization in the Transcendental Aesthetic."

The obscuring of Kant's thoughts on time which go beyond the Transcendental Aesthetic is based on another, profoundly narrowed outlook, upon which Düsing does not expand. This narrowing of outlook consists in the failure to have apprehended the fact that Kant himself had not only implicitly but also explicitly relativized his own transcendental universalization of time. Whilst the transcendental universality of time in modern philosophy after Kant is retained as a dimension which constitutes the subjectivity of the subject by both the finite, intentional subject (Husserl) and the living self of pure duration (Bergson), Kant himself had already questioned the universality of time which he had initially presupposed. In so doing he opened up a field of discussion which was further set out by Heidegger and is currently being addressed by Rorty, Derrida, Lyotard and others.

Kant's relativization of the time, whose transcendental universalization was completed in the Transcendental Aesthetic, is not found in the Transcendental Aesthetic itself, but is developed contiguously within the context of his Transcendental Logic. The distinction which Kant makes, in a footnote in the B edition of the Transcendental Deduction, between time as a "form of intuition" and as "formal intuition" is central here. The distinction to which this footnote relates is already introduced in the main text. The main text reads, "In the representations of space and time we have a priori forms of outer and inner sensible intuition; and to these the synthesis of apprehension of the manifold of appearance must always conform, because in no other way can the synthesis take place at all. But space and time are represented a priori not merely as forms of sensible intuition, but as themselves intuitions which contain a manifold [of their own], and therefore are represented with the determination of the unity of this manifold (vide the Transcendental Aesthetic)." Thus, according to Kant's own understanding, the subject of the Transcendental Aesthetic is not the form of intuition as such, but a quasi-objective construction: time as formal intuition.

This is made quite explicit in Kant's annotation. This reads, "Space, represented as object (as we are required to do in geometry), contains more than mere form of intuition; it also contains combination of the manifold, given according to the form of sensibility, in an intuitive representation, so that the form of intuition gives only a manifold, the formal intuition gives unity of representation." With an eye to the Transcendental Aesthetic the annotation continues, "In the Aesthetic I have treated this unity as belonging merely to sensibility, simply in order to emphasize that it precedes any concept, although, as a matter of fact, it presupposes a synthesis which does not belong to the senses but through which all concepts of space and time become possible. For since by its means (in that the understanding determines the sensibility) space and time are first given as intuitions, the unity of this a priori intuition belongs to space and time, and not to the concept of the understanding." The conceived unity of time in the Transcendental Aesthetic, which in the "Transcendental Exposition of the Concept of Time" at the same time serves as a fundament of the "general doctrine of motion" , in itself preconceives time as an objectivized, and thus conceptual and categorial synthesis. It is this unifying, linear conception of time, which may be introduced "by analogies" in describing "a line progressing to infinity" , which Kant universalizes in its "empirical reality" not at least aiming at a new epistemological foundation of Newton's physics.

At the same time however, the second 'concept' of time upon which the concept of objectivized time is based evades transcendental philosophical explanation. For time, as a form of intuition in the strict sense, forms the horizon which Kant fails to illuminate, in which time can first be dealt with as formal intuition. The universality of the notion of objective time in the Transcendental Aesthetic is decentralized and at the same time methodically relativized by this horizon's irrevocable transcendental philosophical dimension. In this context Heidegger underlines in §9 of his Phenomenological Interpretation of Kant's Critique of Pure Reason , that, from Kant's perspective, "formal intuition is not a primordial, but a derived conception." How Heidegger's analysis of temporality presents itself against the background of this insight is to be elaborated in the following.

Heidegger developed his analysis of temporality in the second division of the first part of his Being and Time (1927). In this, Heidegger's early, still fragmentary master work one must differentiate between two things: the non-realized, but suggested undertaking of a fundamental ontology, and the factually accomplished analysis of the Dasein. In the following I shall concentrate on the analysis of temporality developed in the second division of Being and Time, which bears the title Dasein and Temporality. The work's broader perspective of a fundamental ontology is drawn upon only in so far as it affects the analysis of temporality.

Unlike Husserl and Bergson, who did not directly relate their theories of time to Kant's, Heidegger's early thinking takes issue directly with Kant. This was clearly expressed in his lecture, the Phenomenological Interpretation of Kant's Critique of Pure Reason, in the year Being and Time was published, as well as in the book Kant and the Problem of Metaphysics, published in 1929, and in references to Kant found in Being and Time itself. In directly contesting Kant, Heidegger broke through the theoretical means of approach to the problem of time, as established by the Critique of Pure Reason and retained by Bergson and Husserl. With Heidegger, the question of time as a pure form of sensible intuition - which is left open by Kant and reformulated by Bergson and Husserl as a question of the intrinsic temporality in subjectivity - becomes a question of the genuinely practical means of temporal self-projection in human existence.

'Dasein' is Heidegger's term for what is called 'subject' or 'I think' in Kant. Heidegger is of the opinion that Kant - in basing it on 'I think' - reduces the transcendental subject to being an aspect of theoretical knowledge. According to Heidegger, man is not a creature which aims first and foremost to cognize the present-at-hand (das Vorhandene). As Dasein, he is far more a being which has always been cast amidst in its 'there' (Da), and thus did not first begin artificially and retrospectively to construct an epistemological relationship to the outside world, but rather one which had always found itself practically related to a concrete environment - to the "ready-to-hand" (das Zuhandene). Here Heidegger highlights: "The 'I' is not just an 'I think', but an 'I think something'." And he explains: "Kant has indeed avoided cutting the 'I' adrift from thinking; but he has done so without starting with the 'I think' itself in its full essential content as an 'I think something', and above all, without seeing what is ontologically 'presupposed' in taking the 'I think something' as a basic characteristic of the self." This postulate is the 'Being-in-the-world' of Dasein. Since Kant "did not see the phenomenon of the world" , the basic Heideggerian insight must continue to obstruct him: "In saying 'I', Dasein expresses itself as Being-in-the-world."

Like Kant, Heidegger also asks about the conditions of possibility. For him however, it's not an abstract enquiry about the possible conditions of knowledge, but quite concretely about the possible conditions of our Being-in-the-world. In the second division of Being and Time Heidegger reveals that "temporality" is the basic existential structure forming the fundamental dimension which underlies the Dasein's structure of care (Sorge), upon which he had expanded in the first division of Being and Time. With recourse to Kierkegaard he describes the "double- movement" which effects the Da ('there') in the Dasein, and which opens the world, as a doubly temporal occurence. The first partial movement in this occuring exists in the anticipation of the future; the second partial movement in coming back to the present as an openness for the encountered world determined by the past - or as Heidegger put it, the "having been." In summary Heidegger writes: "Coming back to itself futurally, resoluteness brings itself into the Situation by making present. The character of 'having been' arises from the future, and in such a way that the future 'has been' (or better, which is 'in the process of having been') releases from itself the present. This phenomenon has the unity of a future which makes present in the process of having been; we designate it as 'temporality'."

Here, on the existential level of conditions of possibility, the concern is not the concrete future, determined by certain substantive aims, but the future in general, of which is written: "By the term 'futural', we do not here have in view a 'now' which has not yet become 'actual' and which sometime will be for the first time. We have in view the coming [Kunft] in which Dasein, in its ownmost potentiality-for-Being, comes towards itself." Heidegger's designation of this basic structure of Dasein as "transcendence" has also given cause to infer theological implications here. Heidegger defended himself against such a reading of his work from an early stage. Even in his early lecture The Concept of Time to theologians in Marburg in 1924, in which he had just formulated the general ideas behind his analysis of temporality, he emphasized in the Kantian manner: "The philosopher does not believe. If the philosopher asks about time, then he has resolved to understand time in terms of time (...)." To understand time in terms of time means to think about time temporally, or to be in favour of a temporalization of time. Such is the through and through secular Heideggerian programme, and one must also understand his designation of "futurality" as being the "coming [Kunft] in which Dasein, in its ownmost potentiality-for-Being, comes towards itself" against this backdrop.

Unlike Kierkegaard, for whom the double-movement of human existence only fails to lead us into desperation when it happens in the consciousness of belief in God, Heidegger considers successful temporal self-fulfilment to be possible in the absence of devine transcendence. Heidegger describes the anticipation of one's own future as a "Being- towards-death" , but he means that this anticipation of the "possibility of the measureless impossibility of existence" , which represents death, allows a kind of 'authentic' existence. A kind of existence in which the experience of a radical finiteness does not occasion Kierkegaardian desperation, but which rather opens up a new horizon of manifold possibilities, within which our everyday Dasein was always organized, without the essential characteristics of its possibilities having entered our consciousness. This radical view of 'the future as coming towards' (Zu-kunft) in anticipating one's own death as the "ownmost, non- relational possibility, which is not to be outstripped" is also understood by Heidegger to be the self's own "resoluteness" to itself: as authentic "potentiality-for-Being-one's-Self" (Selbstseinkönnen).

Heidegger contrasts this distinguished basic form of human temporality with its opposite, or what he calls our "everyday understanding of time." He attempts to show how the everyday understanding of time arose as a derivative of the original temporality of human Dasein. Or to put it another way: Heidegger's goal is to show why and how the objectivized time which we read off our clocks and calendars arises from the temporal processes of our self-constitution, that is from the authentic temporality of the double-movement of human existence. Heidegger's perception is that we can only hold ourselves temporarily - in distinguished moments of our Dasein - in the authentic temporality, or the resolute anticipation of death. In the normal run of things we anticipate a future whose content is determined by our concrete needs and plans, and whose final horizon, death, is excluded. This reduced, practical everyday form of double-movement is what Heidegger calls the "inauthentic temporality."

The inauthentic temporality is again different from what Heidegger in §81 of Being and Time calls "vulgäres Zeitverständnis", a vulgar or "ordinary conception of time". Whilst in the inauthentic, practical everyday temporality a "reflect[ion of] the ecstatical constitution of temporality" can still be sensed, the temporal origin of time from the temporality of human Dasein is totally obscured in the vulgar conception of time. Heidegger makes this distinction quite clear through our use of clocks. He refers here to a paradox which economists and managers of time have yet to overcome. This paradox is that "precisely that Dasein which reckons with time and lives with its watch in its hands (...) constantly says 'I have not time.'" How is it that the greatest strategist of time at once suffers the greatest stress due to time? Heidegger's answer is: because to this methodical strategist, time has congealed into a series of nows of exchangable seconds, minutes, days, weeks, months and years, into a objectivized external authority of time, that is like an infinitely divisible, endless line which lies before him and which he can never really succeed in filling. The objectivized time slips through his fingers. Any time he saves through skillful time management immediately imposes itself again on him as empty and in need of being filled with work. It is no longer concrete concerns and needs which dictate planning of time, rather it is the emptiness itself, which awakens new needs and forces its own capitalization. Whilst today this form of dealing with time has long become the norm , Heidegger was still able to view this vulgar conception of time as being an extreme case, from which the inauthentic temporality could still be clearly delineated. In the practical context of everyday concerns time appears to be not exactly an external, nor still the physically determined power of the clock or "nature-time" , but to be built into our everyday concerns and determined by these as "world-time".

Heidegger identifies the aspects of datability, tension and publicness as being the three central characteristics which distinguish inauthentic temporality from the vulgar conception of time. The Heideggerian standpoint can be shown particularly clearly by taking datability as an example. Whereas in the vulgar conception of time the "now- point" (Jetztpunkt) is defined solely through the immanent relation to other now-points, or through the abstract relationship earlier/later, time perceived with respect to everyday concerns is always integrated with concrete regard to daily business, whose datability is provided by: there is a "now that ..." (Jetzt, da ...). In this context Heidegger notes: "When we look at the clock and say 'now' we are not directed toward the now as such but toward that wherefore and whereto there is still time now; we are directed toward what occupies us, what presses hard upon us, what it is time for, what we want to have time for." He concludes from this: "The fact that the structure of datability belongs essentially to what has been interpreted with the 'now', 'then' and 'on that former occasion', becomes the most elemental proof that what has thus been interpreted has originated in the temporality which interprets itself. When we say 'now', we always understand a 'now that so and so ...' though we do not say all of this. Why? Because the 'now' interprets a making-present of entities. In the 'now that ...' lies the ecstatical character of the Present. The datability of the 'now', the 'then' and the 'on that former occasion', reflects the ecstatical constitution of temporality, and is therefore essential for the time itself which has been expressed."

In summary it can be said: In Heidegger's differentiation between authentic temporality, inauthentic temporality and the vulgar conception of time there is a continuation of the relativization of objective time, which Kant began with his distinction between time as 'formal intuition' and time as a 'form of intuition'. Heidegger radicalizes it under the concrete conditions of human Being-in-the-world. This continuation has a dual aspect. For one, Heidegger relativizes the objectiveness on which the vulgar conception of time is based with recourse to the pragmatic, inauthentic temporality which pervades our dealing with time in relation to daily concerns. On the other hand, Heidegger relativizes not only the objectiveness on which the vulgar conception of time is based, but also the pragmatic understanding of time, from which inauthentic temporality arises. This he does with recourse to the superior and, in his view, fundamental form of authentic temporality. From this fundamental form of temporality Heidegger believed he could effect the transition from an analysis of the Dasein to a fundamental ontology. It simultaneously marks the inner turning point, at which Heidegger's phenomenology of the temporality of human Dasein is subsumed within and forcibly enshrouded by the fundamental ontological perspective in Being and Time.

This last aspect in Heidegger's thinking - the fundamental ontological lapse into a new time theoretical universalism - was brought to the fore by Rorty in his Heidegger critique. In his book Contingency, Irony and Solidarity Rorty writes: "Heidegger seems seriously to have thought, when he was writing Being and Time, that he was carrying out a transcendental project, namely, giving an accurate list of the 'ontological' conditions of possibility of merely 'ontic' states. (...). Just as Kant seems never to have asked himself how, given the restrictions on human cognition the Critique of Pure Reason had discerned, it was possible to assume the 'transcendental standpoint' from which that book was purportedly written, so the Heidegger of this period never looks into the question of methodological self-reference. He never asks himself how 'ontology' of the sort he was busy producing was, given its own conclusions, possible." Rorty adds: "In remarking on this early unselfconsciousness, I am not trying to denigrate Heidegger's early (internally inconsistent, hastily written, brilliantly original) book. Heidegger was, after all, not the first philosopher to have taken his own idiosyncratic spiritual situation for the essence of what it was to be a human being."

That the Kantian theory of time should only be partially affected by Rorty's criticism has already been made clear above in reference to the relativization of time by Kant in the Transcendental Logic. In closing, it can be shown to be similar for Heidegger. To this end, Rorty's initially positive reading of Heidegger's incipient intentions is quoted. In connection with this, Rorty précis the basis of Being and Time as follows: "Heidegger would like to recapture a sense of what time was like before it fell under the spell of eternity, what we were before we became obsessed by the need for an overarching context which would subsume and explain us (...). To put it in another way: he would like to recapture a sense of contingency, of the fragility and riskiness of any human project (...)." This productive intention, continues Rorty, was undermined by Heidegger's absolution of authentic temporality and its fundamental ontological elucidation.

None the less, an objection to this essentially justified criticism is that the subsumption of Heidegger's analysis of temporality into a fundamental ontology, although projected, was not carried out in reality. At the same time rudimentary attempts to relativize the model of temporal double-movement, i.e. to understand this temporally in itself, are found in Heidegger's early work on time. This step, on which Heidegger's work borders in several places, marks the principal feature of a radical temporalization of time in its full consequence. This radical temporalization of time, is above all implicitly anticipated in Heidegger's addressing of "the ideas of Count Yorck" which is found in §77 of Time and Being. Here Heidegger ascertains positively: "And Yorck (...) did not hesitate to draw the final conclusion from his insight into the historicality of Dasein." As evidence Heidegger approvingly quotes from correspondence between Yorck and Dilthey: "Behaviour and historicality are like breathing and atmospheric pressure; and - this may sound rather paradoxical - it seems to me methodologically like a residue of metaphysics to not historicize one's philosophizing." Heidegger above all explicitly demands the reflexive temporalization of time in his early lecture The Concept of Time. Heidegger notes: "(...) we must talk temporally about time. Time ist the 'how'. If we inquire into what time is, then one may not cling prematurely to an answer (time is such and such), for this always means a 'what'." And Heidegger concludes: "Time itself is meaningless; time is temporal."

If one takes Heidegger literally at this point, a description of the Dasein's temporality may be given free of the fundamental ontological implications engendered by the singling out of one specific temporal structure as the 'authentic temporality'. In this way, the bonding of pragmatic temporality with the formal structure of the temporal double-movement can be retained, without requiring that the hierarchy of temporal structures, which Heidegger constructs, be overtaken. This modification is tantamount to a radical pluralization of Heidegger's analysis of temporality. A plurality is meant here which goes beyond the simple pluralization which typifies the second basic tendency in contemporary philosophy of time. This is the case in so far that it no longer attempts to defuse the plurality of time through the speculative evidence of a negatively conceived unity of time. Rather, in the language of Musil's metaphor introduced above, the banks of the river of time are swept along by the radical historization and relativization of time.

The radical pluralization of time which is seen in Heidegger has two aspects. First it leads to an internal pluralization in so far as the Heideggerian time structures are no longer to be understood as being founded in a hierarchichal context furnished with normative implications (authentic/inauthentic). With this background, the coupling of pragmatic temporality, temporality based on certain projections of the future, within the Dasein's temporal double-movement is to be understood as being a synthesis on a horizon from which future appears first to be concretely experienceable and in its contingency as compellingly comprehensible. The modification in the apprehension of the temporal double-movement is secondly bound to an external pluralization. It no longer concerns only the temporal structures which Heidegger described, but also incorporates alternative forms of subjectivity and temporality which can no longer be understood under the conditions presupposed by Heidegger's "priority of the future." The range of diverse types of temporality is to be considered here, reaching from Kant's 'reflective faculty of judgement', Freud's 'free association', via Proust's 'mémoire involontaire', Benjamin's 'Jetztzeit' and Newman's 'now', through to Lyotard's 'passage' or Derrida's 'écriture'. This spectrum of time structures is currently being investigated by a multitude of different authors from the perspective of media philosophy.

Translated by Andrew Inkpin



Baumgartner, Hans-Michael (Hrsg.) (1993), Das Rätsel der Zeit. Philosophische Analysen, Freiburg/München.

Coveney, Peter / Highfield, Roger (1990), The Arrow of Time, London.

Dummett, Michael (1960), A Defense of McTaggart's Proof of the Unreality of Time, in: Philosophical Review, vol. 69, 497-504.

Düsing, Klaus (1980), Objektive und subjektive Zeit. Untersuchungen zu Kants Zeittheorie und zu ihrer modernen kritischen Rezeption, in: Kant-Studien, Bd. 71, 1-34.

Gödel, Kurt (1970), A Remark About the Relationship Between Relativity Theory and Idealistic Philosophy, in: Albert Einstein. Philosopher - Scientist, ed. by Paul Arthur Schilpp, The Library of Living Philosophers, vol. 7, London, 557-562 (first published 1949).

Griffin, David Ray (ed.) (1986), Physics and the Ultimate Significance of Time. Bohm, Prigogine, and Process Philosophy, New York.

Heidegger, Martin (1962), Kant and the Problem of Metaphysics. Translated by James S. Churchill, Bloomington (German original first published: Bonn 1929).

Heidegger, Martin (1977), Phänomenologische Interpretation von Kants Kritik der reinen Vernunft, in: ders., Gesamtausgabe. II. Abteilung: Vorlesungen 1923-1944, Bd. 25, Frankfurt a.M.

Heidegger, Martin (1982), The Basic Problems of Phenomenology. Translated by Albert Hofstadter, Bloomington 1982 (German original first published in: Martin Heidegger, Gesamtausgabe, II. Abteilung: Vorlesungen 1923-1944, Bd. 24, Frankfurt a.M. 1975)

Heidegger, Martin (1992a), Being and Time. Translated by John Macquarrie and Edward Robinson, Oxford and Cambridge (first published 1962; German original first published: Tübingen 1927).

Heidegger, Martin (1992b), The Concept of Time. Translated by William McNeill, Oxford and Cambridge (Mass.) (German original first published: Tübingen 1989).

Kant, Immanuel (1983), Critique of Pure Reason. Translated by Norman Kemp Smith, London 1987 (first published: London 1929; German original first published: Riga 1781[A]; 1787[B]).

Kierkegaard, Sören (1987), Fear and Trembling. Edited and translated with introduction and notes by Howard V. Hong and Edna H. Hong, Princeton (Danish original first published: Kopenhagen 1843).

Kierkegaard, Sören (1980), The Sickness Unto Death: A Christian Psychological Exposition for Upbuilding and Awakening. Edited and translated with introduction by Howard V. Hong and Edna H. Hong, Princeton (Danish original first published: Kopenhagen 1849).

Krohn, Wolfgang / Küppers, Günter / Nowotny, Helga (ed.) (1990), Selforganization. Portrait of a Scientific Revolution, Dordrecht/Boston/London.

Le Poidevin, Robin / McBeath, Murray (1993), The Philosophy of Time, Oxford.

Levinas, Emmanuel (1979), Le Temps et l'Autre, Montpellier 1979.

Lübbe, Hermann (1992), Im Zug der Zeit. Verkürzter Aufenthalt in der Gegenwart, Berlin/Heidelberg/New York.

Macey, Samuel L. (1991), Time. A Bibliographic Guide, New York / London.

McTaggart, John M.E. (1908), The Unreality of Time, in: Mind, vol. 17, 457-474.

Musil, Robert (1954), The Man without Qualities, vol. II(2), London (German original first published: Berlin, 1930-1933).

Prigogine, Ilya (1973), Time, Irreversibility and Structure, in: J.Mehra (ed.), Physicist's Conception of Nature, Dordrecht/Boston, 561-593.

Prigogine, Ilya (1980), From Being to Becoming: Time and Complexity in the Physical Sciences, San Francisco.

Prigogine, Ilya / Stengers, Isabelle (1988), Entre le temps et l'éternité, Paris.

Ricoeur, Paul (1984), Time and Narrative, vol. 1. Translated by Kathleen McLaughlin and David Pellauer, Chicago (French original first published: Paris 1983).

Ricoeur, Paul (1988), Time and Narrative, vol. 3. Translated by Kathleen Blamey and David Pellauer, Chicago (French original first published: Paris 1985).

Rinderspracher, Jürgen P. (1985), Gesellschaft ohne Zeit. Individuelle Zeitverwendung und soziale Organisation der Arbeit, Frankfurt.

Rorty, Richard (1989), Contingency, Irony, and Solidarity, Cambridge 1989.

Rorty, Richard (1991), Essays on Heidegger and others, Philosophical Papers, vol. 2, Cambridge.

Sandbothe, Mike (1993), Zeit und Medien. Postmoderne Medientheorien im Spannungsfeld von Heideggers 'Sein und Zeit', in: Medien und Zeit. Forum für historische Kommunikationsforschung, Bd. 8, Heft 2, 14-20.

Sandbothe, Mike (1994), Zeitlichkeit und Selbstorganisation. Ilya Prigogines Theorie irreversibler Prozesse und Martin Heideggers Zeitlichkeitsanalyse, Dissertation, Otto-Friedrich-Universität Bamberg, Fakultät für Pädagogik, Philosophie, Psychologie.

Sandbothe, Mike / Zimmerli, Walther Ch. (Hrsg.) (1994), Zeit - Medien - Wahrnehmung, Darmstadt.

Theunissen, Michael (1991), Negative Theologie der Zeit, Frankfurt a.M.

Wood, David (1989), The Deconstruction of Time, Atlantic Highlands (NJ).

Zimmerli, Walther Ch. / Sandbothe, Mike (Hrsg.) (1993), Klassiker der modernen Zeitphilosophie, Darmstadt.

To top

-- 17.149 hits to this text since 12/08/98 --