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Human Imprints of Real Time: from Semantics to Metaphysics

Published version
Peer-reviewed

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Abstract

Abstract: Investigation into the reality of time can be pursued within the ontological domain or it can also span human thought and natural language. I propose to approach time by correlating three domains of inquiry: metaphysical time (M), the human concept of time (E), and temporal reference in natural language (L), entertaining the possibility of what I call a ‘horizontal reduction’ (L > E > M) and ‘vertical reduction’. I present a view of temporalityL/E as epistemic modality, drawing on evidence from the L domain and its correlates in the E and M domains. On this view, the human concept of time is a complex, ‘molecular’ concept and can be broken down into primitive concepts that are modal in nature, featuring as degrees of epistemic commitment to representations of states of affairs. I present evidence from tensed and tenseless languages (endorsing the L > E path) and point out its compatibility with the view of real time as metaphysical modality (endorsing the E > M path).

Description

Funder: University of Cambridge

Keywords

Article, Metaphysical time, Real time, Human concept of time, Time in language, Temporal reference, Reductionism, Modal reduction, Default Semantics, Tenseless languages

Journal Title

Philosophia

Conference Name

Journal ISSN

0048-3893
1574-9274

Volume Title

48

Publisher

Springer Netherlands