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among philosophers that we have a proper intuition of time,
such as we have of space. It is, therefore, a matter of great
surprise, on looking around for this intuition, to find it want-
ing. We grasp coexistences in a single space-image which
is sui generis; and when we think the things away, we are
still able to outline the space as such. With time this
is impossible. We cannot comprehend events in a single

TIME 165

temporal image, and when the events are thought away
there is nothing remaining, even in imagination, which has
a temporal character. As has often been pointed out, all
our representations of time are images borrowed from
space, and all alike contain contradictions of the time-idea.
We think of it as an endless straight line, but the concep-
tion fails to fit ; for the points of such a line coexist, while
of the time-line only the present point exists. We think of
it also as a flowing point which describes a straight line, but
here also we implicitly assume a space through which the
point moves ; and without this assumption the illustration
loses all meaning. Or if we wish to form a conception of
earlier and later, we do it by positing a line over which we
are to move in thought; and we measure the time by the
motion and its direction. The temporal before-and-after is
represented only by the spatial before-and-after. Nor are
we content to borrow figures from the one dimension of
space; in dealing with the system we generally have two
dimensions, and sometimes three. Since space is filled with
coexistences, all of which are alike in the same time, the
time-line is extended to all these. Thus the line becomes a
cylinder and the point becomes a plane; while the time
passed over by the moving plane remains behind as a kind
of third dimension. But in all these cases we have only
space-images, which are applied to time only by metaphor.
We cannot, then, properly call time a form of intuition, as
we have properly no special presentation corresponding to it.
In itself it is rather a certain unpicturable order of events.
Whenever we attempt to picture it we replace temporal se-
quence by spatial sequence.

What, then, is time ? The popular view of time closely
resembles that of space. Time is conceived as an existence
sui generis, which exists apart from things, losing nothing
by their absence and gaining nothing by their presence. It


is independent, and hence without any essential relation to
being, but moves on in ceaseless and steady flow forever.
Like space, it is one of the necessities which being can nei-
ther create nor annihilate, and to which it must submit.

This view ^eerns self-evident in its clearness at first glance,
and it would not be surprising if some speculator should
order up an intuition in support of it. But, in spite of the
intuition and the apparent self -evidence, the clearness of
this view turns out, upon inquiry, to be delusive. It is un-
tenable on two accounts : (1) By making time independent
of being it sins against the law of reason, whichforbids all

plurality of independent principles. This fact, wEcfTwe

have sufficiently Illustrated in previous chapters, is conclu-
sive against the independence of time. Whatever time may
be, it is no independent reality apart from being. (2) The
view which regards time as a real existence is hopelessly
unclear and inconsistent in its assumptions and implications.
Many qualities and functions are attributed to time in spon-
taneous thinking, which have only to be pointed out to be
rejected, because they are inconsistent with the time-idea.
This fact we proceed now to illustrate.

But before beginning it seems necessary to refer again to
the ever-recurring distinction between the phenomenal and
the ontological fact. ( Time as the form of experience or as
the form of change is a perfectly clear and self-sufficing no-
tion A In this sense our experience is in time, and there can
be no question of having a timeless experience, or of describ-
ing experience apart from temporal relations. The question
concerns that abstract and independent time which is more
than the form of experience, which is rather a something in
which events occur ; and the claim is that this time is a fic-
tion arising from separating the form of experience from
experience itself. When we are dealing with time as the
form of experience all is perfectly clear, and every one under-

TIME 167

stands what is meant. An engagement to meet at a certain
time and place has no mystery for the understanding of any
one; but when we abstract from the particular concrete
things and relations, and attempt to conceive time by itself,
then once more we are " lost and embrangled in inextrica-
ble difficulties," and are " miserably bantered " and buffeted
by the absurdities which emerge.

In illustration of the unclearness of popular thought on
this subject, it is not plain whether time be regarded as
standing or flowing. Sometimes it is said to comprehend
in its unity past, present, and future alike ; and in its to-
tality it is identical with eternity. There is but one time,
as there is but one space ; and all particular times are but
parts of the one time. Sometimes it is said to flow, and
sometimes it is mentioned as the standing condition of all
flow. In one view time itself flows, and events flow with
it ; and in another view time stands, and events flow in it
as a space or through it as a channel, or move across it as
u background. All of these conceptions appear in the pop-
ular thought of time, and all are attended with great diffi-
culties. If we regard time as a whole as existing, and thus
embracing past, present, and future, then time as a whole
stands, and the flow is put in things and not in time. In
that case the distinction between past and future would
not be in time itself, but in things, and especially in the
observer's stand-point. The past would not be the non-
existing, but that which has been experienced. The future
also would not be the non-existing, but simply that which
we have not yet experienced. There would be nothing in
this view to forbid the thought that things might coexist
at different points of the temporal sequence. There would
also be nothing in it to forbid the conception of a being
which should fill out the totality of time, as the omnipres-
ent fills out space, and for whose thought the past and the


future should alike coexist. Thus quite unexpectedly we
come down to the notion of the eternal now. But this is
just the opposite of what the popular view means to say.
Common-sense insists that time itself flows as well as the
events within it. In truth, this notion of an empty time,
with things flowing through it, is simply the image of empty
space which has been mistaken for that of time.

But, on the other hand, if we do not regard time as ex-
isting as a whole, then we are shut up to the affirmation
that only the present exists. This view also is held by
spontaneous thought ; and upon occasion it is stoutly af-
firmed that all existence is contained in the narrow plane
of the present. But the present has no duration, and is not
time at all. It is but the plane which, without thickness,
divides past and future. Time, then, is not made up of
past, present, and future, but of past and future only ; and,
as these do not exist, time itself cannot exist. It avails
nothing against this conclusion to call the present the pas-
sage of the future into the past ; for this passage must re-
quire time, or it must not. If it require time, then it is
itself susceptible of division into past and future. If it be
timeless, then time once more falls into past and future, and
has no existence whatever. Besides, it is not easy to see
how we can speak of the passage of the future into the past
when both alike are non-existent. Such a passage can be
represented only by a reality moving across a certain line,
but which is equally real on both sides of the line ; and this
notion is inapplicable to time. When the moving reality is
real only on the line, it cannot cross it.

It is equally hard to see how, on this view, time can have
any duration. The past was once present, so that past time
is made up of moments which once were present. But if
the present have no duration, no sum of present moments
can have any duration. Nor does it relieve the matter to

TIME 169

say that time, like space, is continuous, and that units of
both are but arbitrary sections of the indivisible. Space
can, indeed, be divided by a plane into right and left, so
that the space to the right and that to the left shall make
up all space ; but this does not represent the relation of past
and future, for the two divisions exist as real in the case of
space, while in time they are non-existent. If the space oc-
cupied by the plane were alone real, then space also could
not exist, for the plane is only a limit, and occupies no
space. And if the plane should move under such circum-
stances, it would not pass over any space or generate any
volume, for each integral of volume would perish as fast as
born. The plane would continue to be all, and space would
be nothing. This is the case with time. The plane is all,
and duration is never reached. When we attempt to con-
ceive duration, we must have recourse to space-illustrations,
which are implicit contradictions of the time-idea. Time
cannot exist, and things cannot exist in time. But if, to
escape these difficulties, we allow that the present is a mo-
ment with proper duration, it is plain that this moment
must lie partly in the past and partly in the future, or else
that duration is not indefinitely divisible. Either assump-
tion would swamp us by bringing the time-idea into con-
tradiction with itself.

If we say that time as a whole stands we deny the time-
idea. Past, present, and future coexist ; and there is no
assignable reason for the change from the future to the
past. It is equally impossible to find in a standing time any
ground for change. But we fare no better with the notion
of a flowing time. If we say that time flows we must ask
whence and whither. From the future to the past, or from
the past to the future ? But both past and future are di-
mensions of time ; and it seems absurd to speak of time as
flowing into or out of itself. Such a view is as impossible


as the thought of a moving space. A space which should
start sideways, so as to leave spacelessness on one side and
penetrate or telescope itself on the other, would not be a
more absurd notion than this of a moving time. And, final-
ly, when we say that time as a whole flows we need another
time for it to flow in. Otherwise, the flow of time is time-
less ; and there is no good reason why the flow of things
may not be timeless also.

Perhaps we may say that the moments of time flow, and
not time as a whole ; but then we have a puzzle in deciding
what the relation may be between the standing time and its
flowing moments. A time which is not the sum, or integral,
of its moments is a difficult conception, and, allowing it, we
see no reason in the standing time for the flowing moments.
We should also need to know the whence and whither of
the flowing moments and in what their flow in pure time
would be distinguishable from their non-flow. We should
have a movement in which there is neither moved nor mover,
a movement without whence or whither, a movement which
stops as soon as we attempt to conceive it as moving, and a
rest which moves as soon as we attempt to conceive it as
resting. The notion of a standing time contradicts the time-
idea ; and the notion of a flowing time results in a mental
vacuum. Both views involve not merely mystery, but in-
consistency and contradiction. Their exceeding clearness
and self-evidence are due to the space-metaphors in which
the doctrines are expressed ; and these metaphors, upon ex-
amination, turn out to be inconsistent and inapplicable.

Plainly we are " embrangled " and most " miserably ban-
tered" in our attempt to conceive time as independently
existing; but the embranglement and bantering become
still worse when we seek to determine the relation of this
independent time to the things and events said to be in it.
To begin with, it is impossible to see how anything articu-

TIME 171

late can exist at all in a real time. Things cannot exist in
the past, or in the future ; but in such a time the present is
nothing ; and hence they cannot exist at all. In discussing
causality we found that no metaphysical predication what-
ever is possible until we bring the entire metaphysical move-
ment within the range of thought, and view it as consti-
tuted by thought. Existence in time is a vanishing and
perishing shadow which eludes all apprehension and all sig-
nificance. Kightly enough, then, did Berkeley say of this
abstract time, that it led him " to harbour odd thoughts "
of his own existence ; and he might have added, of all other
existence as well. '

Again, what is the relation of the independent time to
events? The movement of time is not supposed to be the
movement of events, and the movement of events, though
in time, is not supposed to be due to the movement of time,
but to the causes at work. In what relation are these two
oi'ders of movement ? If one might go faster than the other,
then our time, which is taken entirely from the order of
events, would be no measure of that absolute time back of
events. To explain the connection, a number of vague fan-
cies, borrowed from space, arise in the mind, as that the
stream of time floats events along with it ; and these no-
tions often impose upon us their imaginary solutions. But
the more we reflect upon the matter the more difficulty we
have in finding any connection between time and the events
said to be in it.

But here it may occur to us that the relation between
time and events is that the former conditions the latter;
and this will certainly seem to many minds a sufficient and
final answer. But one must confess inability to get any
notion of what this conditioning may be, unless it is of a
dynamic character, and such a conditioning cannot be recon-
ciled with the notion of time. That time is causal and does


anything is as great a scandal to common -sense as could
well be conceived ; and when the notion of doing something
is left out, one is quite at a loss to know what the condition-
ing is. But here it will certainly be asked if we are not
aware of the distinction between a cause and a condition ;
and we reply that the distinction is a familiar one, but that
it helps us here is the point which seems doubtful. That
a thing should be conditioned by its own nature, or law, is
a conception which involves no causal determination ; but
that a thing should be conditioned or in any way deter-
mined by another thing without dynamic influence seems
to be an utterly vacuous conception. Hence if we deny to
this real time all influence upon events, no one can tell what
he means by events being in that time ; and if we attribute
an influence to time we contradict the notion of time and
shut ourselves up to an endless regress, unless we suppose
that time can act timelessly, or without time to act in.

And now, to complete the confusion, we point out that if
time be real and without causal influence, the whole series
of events runs off instantaneously ; for on this view the con-
ditions of change are not to be found in time, but in the in-
teractions of things ; and when the dynamic conditions of
change are fulfilled there is no reason why the change
should delay. If we suppose that time does something
which was lacking, or breaks down some hinderance to the
change, or exercises some repressive action, we make time
a thing with active powers ; and this view is contrary to the
supposition. But if we do not do this there is no escape
from admitting that the fulfilment of the conditions and
the entrance of the change are absolutely coexistent. For
empty time can do nothing; and one cannot see why, in
such a case, a greater flow of time, provided the phrase in
general meant anything, should be more effective than a
lesser flow. Certainly n minutes could do no more than

TIME 173

any fraction of a minute ; and infinite time would furnish
nothing not contained in infinitesimal time. The integral
of emptiness is always emptiness, and no addition of zeros
can produce a sum. We must, then, regard the event as
coincident with the fulfilment of its conditions. Hence
the beginning and the end must coincide in time. Every
effect is given simultaneously with its conditions, and each
effect in turn becomes the cause of new effects, and these
are likewise simultaneously given; and thus the whole se-
ries exists in a point of time without any real before and
after in it.

If, then, we conceive inactive time as either resting or
flowing, it is quite impossible to assign any articulate rela-
tion in which it can stand to things or events. It neither
acts nor is acted upon, but remains a mere ghost outside of
being, contributing nothing and determining nothing. It
does not even measure anything, for our units of time are
not taken from time, but from some change in things a
revolution of the earth, the swing of a pendulum, etc. If,
on the other hand, we conceive time as active we contra-
dict the time-idea.

Finally, the believer in a real time will affirm with great
positiveness that our mental life itself bears witness to the
reality of time. However we may confuse ourselves about
the world-process, we know that we have lived through a
real past, and that we are now able to compare it with a
real present. Any attempt to deny time, it is said, must
shatter on this fact. But this objection largely depends on
overlooking the distinction between the phenomenal and the
ontological. No one can think of denying the relations of
time in experience. But these relations are established by
the mind itself, and if there were not something non-tempo-
ral in the mind they could not exist for us at all. The suc-
cession in consciousness to which the realist appeals so confi-


dently is the very thing the knowledge of which makes his
realistic view impossible. If there were nothing unchanging
and timeless in the mind, the knowledge of succession could
never arise. The mind must gather up its experiences in a
single timeless act in order to become aware of succession.
The conceptions which are arranged in a temporal order
must coexist in the timeless act which grasps and arranges
them. The conception of sequence not only does not involve
a sequence of conceptions, but it would be impossible if it
did. The perception of time, then, is as timeless as the
perception of space is spaceless. The things which are per-
ceived in time must yet coexist in timeless thought in order
to be so perceived. The admission of ontological temporal
differences in thought would make thought impossible. It
only remains that time be restricted to phenomenal exist-
ence, and that thought instead of being in time be regarded
as the source and founder of temporal relations, which are
the only time there is. And the supposed ontological time
is merely a shadow of experience, and its necessity is merely
a consequence of the temporal law as a rule of mental pro-


\ Thus the notion of time as a separate ontological exist-
ence shows itself on every hand as a congeries of contradic-
tions, and must be given up.V The impossibility of


one independent principle forbids us to admit the in-
dependent existence of time. Whatever it may be, it de-
pends on being as a consequence or creation.) But the at-
tempt to think of time as a substanti veTact oreaks down
from its inherent unclearness and contradiction. This view
of time, when analyzed, is always found to deny itself.
VConceived as resting or flowing, time is absurd. Con-
/ ceived as ontological, it cannot be brought into any re-
f lations to things without positing an interaction between
I them ; and then we need a new time as the condition of

this interaction, and this would lead to an endless regress.
Time, then, cannot be viewed as a substantive fact created
or uncreated. As a whole, time does notexist. and sub-

^ : ^^_^ - - "" ""**" l " '*" in - i .

stantive realityisiiot tn time an

"- 1 ~~ "

This result we may hold with clear conviction, but it
would be very easy to misinterpret it. We are by no
means out of the woods yet. Keality certainly is not in
time as something independent; but for all that yet appears
time might be in reality as a law of existence. If there
were a being which had its existence in succession, such
being would not be in time, but its existence would be tem-
poral. Moreover, when we say that reality is not in time,
reality is a word of uncertain meaning. It might mean all
reality, finite and infinite alike ; or it might mean finite re-
ality ; or, finally, it might mean the objective cosmic order.
In the last case we run a very serious risk of confounding
the apparent order, which is temporal, with an assumed
noumenal order which is very possibly fictitious. "We shall
need, then, to look well to our goings, or we shall fall a prey
to some verbal illusion.

The common conclusion from these facts is that time,
like space, is only the subjective aspect of things and proc-
esses which are essentially non-temporal. In this putting
there is an implicit reference to the Kantian noumena which
lie as realities beyond the "subjective aspect"; and this as-
pect is supposed to belong to us, constituting a veil rather
than a revelation of existence. For the present we will not
insist on the doubtful character of these noumena, but sim-
ply consider the attempts to make the subjectivity of time
acceptable. This will finally lead us to a better under-
standing of the form which the doctrine must assume in
order to be tenable. The traditional idealistic view is almost
as obnoxious to criticism as the traditional realistic view.


Since the time of Kant the ideality of time has been held
as being as well established as the ideality of space ; but in
fact it is a much more difficult doctrine. We have a clear
experience of the possibility of thinking and feeling apart
from space. We do not regard our souls as spatial ; and
space-relations do not enter into our internal experience in
any way. That there should be existence apart from space
is not, therefore, so difficult a conception. With time the
case is different. It enters into our entire mental life, and
cannot by any means be escaped. Hence we cannot appeal
to any non-temporal experiences to aid our thought ; and
nothing remains but to analyze the notion, and see if we
cannot reach a stand-point from which the difficulties may,
at least to some extent, disappear. The holders of the doc-
trine have taken it all too easy in this respect. They have
contented themselves with arguments which show the ideal-
ity of space, and have not bestowed upon time the attention
which the peculiar difficulties of the problem demand. We
proceed to examine the attempts to make the subjectivity
of time credible.

And first we mention a rhetorical device. Long and
short, it is said, are relative terms, and our estimate of dura-
tion is purely subjective. The time which is long to one is
'f short to another, according to^hestate jjjLmmd/^\V ith (jorh
a thousand years areas one day ; and even to the old man
a long life is as a tale that is told, or as a watch in the
night. The whole of human history is nothing to the peri-
ods of geology ; and these, again, shrink to insignificance
when we ascend to the cycles of astronomy. What, then,
it is said, are all finite periods to Him who inhabits eternity ?
Remarks of this kind have a certain value in arousing the
feeling of wonder; but they are valueless^ in philosopical
speculation^ Ko Tdoubt our estimate of the length of time
is purely relative and subjective; indeed, if the world-proc-


ess did not exist as a common time-keeper, every man would
have his, own time. Time is one only because we measure
it by reference to the same objective process, or to the same
consciousness. But the before-and-after of things is not a
matter of feeling. Relatively, the whole measure of finite
existence may shrink to a span, but the time-order remains
unchanged. Something more powerful, therefore, must be
found, if we are to succeed in reducing time to a purely
subjective existence.

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