Philosophy of space and time

The concept of time referred to in the philosophy perceived by human consciousness form of changes or the sequence of events. These changes establish the impression of a " sense of time ". Provisions of the nature of time have been made by philosophers such as Plato, Aristotle, Augustine, Leibniz, Kant and Bergson in different ways.


Our everyday experience suggests to us that time also exists independently of conscious perceived objects and their variability. The problem of the concept of time was therefore always linked to the question of whether they only ' created ' by a special vision in human consciousness is or is objectively given regardless. The answer to this question for thousands of years only a matter of philosophy, theology and mysticism. Key findings to provide now but also physics, astronomy, neurology, psychology Chrono, Chronobiology and other sciences.

However, the question of the existence of time is itself problematic because it is difficult to specify what the existence of term shall mean with respect to the time. Recent findings in brain research, molecular biology and psychology suggest that perception, thought processes, memories, sense of time and consciousness are the people so closely linked that they normally can not be separated in the experience. So sense of time, thought and human consciousness only appear together. In a subjectivist conception because time and time feeling would move closely together. The idea of ​​an objective time here would then only the idea of ​​an identity based on memories and strives for safety and continuity.


The first systematic thinking about the time come down to us from Plato. For him, only the eternal ideas are the true being ( theory of ideas ). The shapes that appear to us in space and time, whereas only moving images thereof. He shifts so that the question of the time on the question of Being. Time is only an expression, an image of eternity, the eternal Being with him.

For Aristotle, the concept of time is inextricably linked to changes. Changes happen in time, but is true of the time not even that. She herself is not a movement, but the measure of every movement. "We not only measure the movement by means of the time, but also by the movement time and may do so, because both mutually determine " (Phys. IV 12, 220b 14-16). But he does not go so far as to reduce the time to a mere unit in the modern sense. So Aristotle was of the opinion that can be divided into infinitely many intervals of time. He has represented the idea of a continuum of space and time. Although nowadays there are considerations towards a discrete structure of the time, these continuum theories are to this day used as the basis of physics.

After Augustine's Confessions, past and future only memories and expectations are in the present. We could capture the eternal only in the appearance of the succession. As with Aristotle, Augustine of time (and space ) is inseparable from the world and the changes that they ' created ' only through the creation, that God's creation of the world. The time ( and space ) exists in particular in the creaturely, ie mainly in human consciousness. However, everything is a present for God. In Augustine also takes place for the first time a distinction between a physically exact time, which is determined with the help of timing devices, and a psychological- experiential time to access the subjective and finds everyday interpretations.

For Isaac Newton, the time and space form the "container" for events, they are just as real for him and with excellent properties as the objects. He defined the time with the words: "Time is ticking and they even from moment to moment. " In contrast, Leibniz claims that time and space are only mental constructions to describe the relationships between events. In his view, there is thus no "essence" and no flow of time. He defines the term as follows: " Time is of the order of not yet existing. It is therefore the general order of the changes is in fact not seen on the particular type of change. ". "

Within the science, Newton's view has prevailed. The great advantage of this is the possibility of time and space, independent of a physical reference point and to be able to describe without a specific watcher. Ernst Mach criticized and concluded that all things and processes are interdependent and not from a " transcendent " time the idealized model character of such abstraction. For modern physics is the curvature of the object " space-time " is not different from properties such as mass or extension of any other object.

For Immanuel Kant the time, just like the space a "pure form of intuition ", and indeed that of the internal sense. It is our approach to the world, and is thus a subjective- human conditions of knowledge of the world and is the special shape which gives the human consciousness the sensations. We can from our experience, the time is not thought away because it is just itself a way of our intuition ( perception). Although it does not come a - of whatever kind - world in itself, but an empirical quality of time is attributed. So time measurements are used to quantify how far away events held each other.

In his main work " Being and Time " considered Martin Heidegger temporality as the deeply humanity formative reality. Human existence, existence is understood by Heidegger as a de facto already - be - in the world, determined by its orientation to the future ( self- advance - His ) in the grasping of his own ability to be their own ways. The atmosphere of fear opens up to man be -in-the -world: the man comes without the interference of his own in the existence and has this now to take over, by making decisions. The end of all take-up of opportunities, the death dar. the face of death arises for the people is a finite discretion. It is, therefore, for Heidegger, the temporality of concrete existence, the very existence makes for themselves and others and from what is first gives the computational time. Being credited with time because it has to bear in his own finitude itself concern. However, to a real development of the concept of time from the temporality of existence there is in the fragment remaining work " Being and Time " anymore.

Modern philosophy is now a distinction absolute time rules (so-called A- series, such as past, present, future), as in Augustine, and relative time provisions (so-called B- series, eg earlier than, the same time, later than), as in Kant and the modern natural sciences,. Based on these time series John McTaggart has taught the unreality of time. His remarks are intended to show that any change can be described as a movement of events from the future to the present to the past. However, these changes were neither part of the events, nor a relation between them. He comes to the conclusion that the time series itself, in which the changes take place, do not exist.

After using the philosophy of language arguments were supplied to ensure that terms of a time series can not be translated into terms of the other, there are thus three possible versions for the justification of the B series ( tenseless theory; does not indexical time determination ): a sign analytic ( token- reflexive ), a version based on the time points (date version) and a newer version of sentence types ( sentence type ).

Time consciousness

Time consciousness is a state of consciousness in which the world and one's own life is experienced in a temporally abstract framework.


The concept of time is strongly bound as a specifically human imagination to the human form of consciousness and developed according to common opinion through evolution. Although animals can take in their behavior to past or future events reference. But there is no evidence that they have an idea of ​​past or future. Stephen Jay Gould describes the different life cycles of animals (lifetime and Pace of Life ), when considered relative to their physical size and not to an absolute time, as " surprisingly uniform ".

The sense of time develops the child in a multistage process. The infant lives fully in the present. After Heinrich Roth, the time awareness of the " phase of naive temporal experience " developed in the infant, on the "period of time knowledge" that starts from school age, toward the " phase of the experience of time and reflection time ".


In chronobiology, the sense of time is considered to be a product of neuronal activity and metabolic processes. The concept of time in biology is based on rhythmic, periodic processes in nature and the living beings. The physical chemist Ilya Prigogine postulates a proper time for every living creature that is generated by cyclic processes "self". They would all impressions, which processes the brain, " collected " over a period of 30 to 40 milliseconds and interpreted as an event. The impression of a steady transition of the event, however, will be associated with the integration of this information, in the presence of the so-called period of three seconds. This " confrontation " of events in the present time generating an idea of ​​past and future, and so is the feeling of a " flow of time ". Also gives the impression of a linear sequence of all events will generated by these processes.

From the existence of this " system states " but can not say anything about the mind-body problem, ie whether consciousness is solely a consequence of neuronal processes or also exists independently of the brain, are derived. But you seem to cause events ( thoughts or perceptions) and the awareness of them can not be separated in the making.

There are also daily rhythms on a biological basis, which create the feeling of time on a larger scale. A sense of time, which is mediated by the function of long-term memory, ultimately leading to awareness of identity.


Sense of identity based on a self-awareness that separates between ego and non -ego. Everything consciously experienced is separated from the experiencer in a subtle way. And the time is learned from the position of a fixed " outsider ". Also sets a sense of identity ahead of memories that have formed in the memory. It thus defines itself in humans normally as an awareness of time. Past performance is not as conceptual variable in the form of memories and judgments, at least subconsciously always present. The same applies to desires that are directed to the future.

Presence awareness

To speak of time and experience of time, resulting in this context only makes sense when viewed in the context of a specifically human form of consciousness.

Time consciousness and soul

In the tradition of the philosophia perennis realism argues that an identity and sense of time is only possible if the human perception and cognition is an intangible, non- composite substance basis. This is called spiritual soul or spirit shortly. The Spirit guarantees the continuity and identity of the human person, even though the body several times completely ' replaced ' because of metabolism in the course of life is. Nor was it only by the immutable spirit in some way possible to perceive changes to reflect on changes and time and to recognize them as such.

Plotinus describes the way in a state of timelessness enter. This is characterized by complete self-knowledge, presence and letting go of expectations and visions of the future with him. Eternity is a spaceless and timeless simultaneity for him. Similar statements are found in many writings of theologians, mystics and the Philosophia perennis again. To realize the " birth of God in the soul ," said Meister Eckhart teaches, you have to remove the concept of time from everyday life. The experience of timelessness requires the task of identification with sensations, and in a sense also with the mind and knowledge, and therefore the basics of everyday experience and Sciences.

As a concrete path then the " philosopher emperor " Marcus Aurelius recommends thinking about death. Meister Eckhart teaches, among other things, the practice of mindfulness, but emphasizes that the practicing of this state of consciousness is usually achieved only through years of practice, and compares it to the learning of reading and writing. In traditional Eastern wisdom teachings as Zen Buddhism, these exercises have a long monastic tradition. Here the change in the identity of consciousness is described by the sense of time in the presence of consciousness in varying degrees, but ultimately called an enlightenment experience. But even in Islamic Sufism are similar instructions for the "way of the dervishes " given. Agreement among all traditions are that fundamentally the human being has the facility to live in the consciousness of the present.

Voltaire rejected in one of his Lettres from philosophiques this transcendental interpretation of consciousness flow of time, because they must be justified without recourse to pre-Enlightenment, religious - mystical argument hardly. However Alone by the purity and clarity of thought and self-reflection of the change in the contents of consciousness it is possible to visualize the importance of time.

Due to the abundance and similarity of traditions and writings to the phenomenon of mystical experience of timelessness can indeed describe phenomenologically good, but an objective interpretation is difficult. From a psychoanalytic perspective, it is either a regression, a return to archaic states of consciousness or loss of consciousness progression. For the latter speaks the clarity and serenity, which is accompanied by the experience of timelessness. A theoretical framework for the description and classification tries to create transpersonal psychology. Some modern mystics go so far as to see in the consciousness of the present, a new evolution of man.

What the condition of the presence of consciousness but is physiologically mean, is still largely unknown in science. Here, since the personal experience is important, it remains questionable to what extent the modern empirical sciences in general are to be able to do more than just descriptive and statistical information about it.