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If reality were a changeless system of things in change-
less relations, like the members of a thought-system, or like
the ideas of Plato's philosophy, it would be easy to view
the sequence of things in our experience as only a sequence
of knowledge, and as due entirely to our finiteness. Thus,
mathematical truths coexist ; but we grasp them successive-
ly, not because they really succeed in time, but because our

finite minrls are nna.hlft t.f7grag|T l.liHin -*JJ p.f. m^pa Hence

we are otlSii tempted to think that tho oarlior propositions
in geometry precede and found the later. But a moment's
reflection convinces us that the only relation in this case
is that of logical sequence, and that the apparent temporal
sequ5nce~Ts merely the reflection of our own muteness,
which compels us to grasp Successively what exists simulta-
neously. A perfectT insight into truth would grasp it in^me
changeless intuition, and the illusion would not exist. If
now the world were such a system of logical relations, it
would be entirely credible that time is not only subjective,
but exists only for the finite, being in every case but a re-
flex of limited power. It might be said that even in this
case we could not dispute the reality of time, for time is
given not merely in the movement of the outer world, but
also and pre-eminently in the movement of thought. But
this objection would be invalid, for this psychologic time
would be nothing but a subjective fact, and would have no


significance for the changeless reality, or for the omniscient
mind which should grasp it in its changeless intuition. Time
would be simply a movement in the finite mind, while for
the infinite there would be an eternal now.

Unfortunately, this illustration is not entirely applicable
to the case in hand, at least unless we adopt the Eleatic no-
tion of being. For the Eleatics there is no need of time.
Action and change do not exist, and things are but the
eternal consequences of being, just as all mathematics is
eternally existent in the basal axioms and intuitions. In
such a scheme time cannot be anything but an unaccount-
able illusion in finite thought. But we are already com-
mitted to the Heraclitic view of being so far as change is
concerned. For us, things are not resting in changeless
logical relations, but are active and changing ; and hence it
is impossible to reach the ideality of time by eliminating
change from being. We must have motion in things as
well as in the observer. But, on the other hand, the notion
of time seems the great dividing- wall between Heraclitus
and the Eleatics. "When we exclude time, cause and effect
must coexist ; and then the effect is not produced by the
cause, but is only its logical implication. Without a real
<v before-and-after it seems impossible to prevent the dynamic
relations of reality from vanishing into purely logical rela-
tions ; and this would be to abandon Heraclitus and return
to Spinoza and the Eleatics. The alternative can be escaped
only by showing that change does not imply time as an
actual existence, but that time is only the subjective appear-
ance of change. If this can be made out, there will be no
difficulty in accepting the ideal theory.

But before passing to this question we must consider an
objection springing out of the illustration from a changeless
system. It may be said that we confound time with dura-
tion. Time itself may be viewed as a correlate of change ;

TIME 179

but if there were no change the changeless would still en-
dure. If, then, we should adopt the Eleatic conception of
changeless being, so that all the consequences of being should
changelessly coexist with it, being as a whole would still
have duration. There would be no sequence, but there
would be duration. This distinction between time and du-
ration, though it has often appeared, especially in theology,
we cannot view as tenable. For duration can only mean
continuous existence through time, and without the notion
of time duration loses all significance. The only reason for
distinguishing separate times in the changeless would be the
sequence of mental states in ourselves ; and this sequence
itself is change, and hence contrary to the hypothesis. We
can give duration significance, as applied to the changeless,
only on the assumption of an independent flowing time,
which moves on ceaselessly and carries being with it. But
this view we have found empty and impossible, and hence
we do not allow that duration has any application to change-
less existence. Such being simply is, and the distinction of
past and future does not exist. Even the " is" we view as
an affirmation of being, and not as a present tense. The
difficulty in accepting this view is due partly to an implicit
return to the notion of an independent time, and partly to
the fact that even in such a fixed state we assume ourselves
as present with all our mental changes.

Time, then, depends on change. In a changeless world
jTmS^milith^qjK) meaning. Butfthelictual world is not
changeless, and thulHihe question arises concerning the rela-
tion of change to time. That it cannot be in time, as some-
thing independent of itself, we have already seen. In that
case the whole temporal series would exist at once without
any temporal sequence, and thus the assumed reality of
time would give us a curious form of the ideality of time, in
that it would find the succession of things entirely in our


minds and not in things themselves. But while change is
not in time, its factors are successive, and thus change has
the temporal form. Its members cannot be brought to-
gether in temporal coexistence, and the attempt to do so
involves a tacit affirmation of the time which is denied.
Time, then, cannot relate to any independent flow outside of
things, but it does relate to these phases of change. These
cannot be related as coexistences, but only as sequences ;
and time expresses these relations. The date of an occur-
rence is not a moment of absolute time, but expresses a rela-
tion within the changing series. How shall we conceive
this relation ?

The problem now takes on the following form. As long
as we apply the law of the sufficient reason on the imper-
sonal plane, change in appearance is impossible without
change in reality. There is then an order of real change,
and the idealist has to show that time is but the subjective
aspect of that order, or the form under which we conceive

The idealist now has the floor and offers the following
exposition. As the dynamic relations of things are space-
less, yet demand that things should appear in space, so the
dynamic relations of things are timeless, but demand that
they shall appear under the form of time. The notion may
be presented as follows: "We have before pointed out that
change does not occur in an independent time, and that
in the series A, A v A z , . . . A n , by which we represent the
world-process, only dynamic relations are concerned. We
have simply a relation of cause and effect without any ad-
mixture of time-elements ; and the notion of time can only
be the translation of this causal connection into terms of
sequence. If, now, we suppose some perceptive being in the
midst of this process, say at A m) who could discern the order

TIME 181

of dependence among the members of the series, he would
perceive that each member is conditioned by the preceding
one, and conditions the succeeding one. A m is conditioned
by A m -n and conditions A m+l . The attempt to represent
this relation in thought results in their arrangement in a
temporal scheme, in which the cause is made the antecedent
and the effect the consequent. Antecedence and sequence
is the universal form under which the mind represents to
itself causation ; but, when we reflect upon the matter, we
find that time does not enter into the reality, but only into
the appearance. To return, now, to our being at A m , his own
position will constitute for him the present. He will per-
ceive, too, that A m conditions all the higher members of the
series, and hence he will locate them in the future, and he
will make them far or near, according to the complexity of
their conditionedness. Am^-i will be conditioned only by
A m , while Am+ 2 will be conditioned by both A m and A m+1 ;
hence it will be put further on in the series. This being
will further perceive that all the lower members of the
series condition A m , or his present, and hence he will put
them in the past and at greater or less distances, according
to their relations to A m . If, in the series, this being should
discover an unconditioned member, the regress would stop
at that point, and that member would appear as eternal.
Thus a tendency to represent dependence by temporal ante-
cedence and sequence would produce in such a being the
perception of a temporal order, even in a perfectly timeless
system. That there is such a tendency in the human mind
cannot be denied, for it is so strong that we are always
tempted to resolve logical and dynamic sequence into tem-
poral sequence. But we have seen that the dynamic se-
quence bears no marks of time, and hence we must con-
clude that the temporal order of things exists only in
thought, and is purely a product of the observing mind.


There may be some truth in this view, but it does not
seem to be well put ; or rather the exposition is not without
ambiguity. The result is to show how, in a timeless system
of conditioning and conditioned members, the appearance
of time might arise as the way in which we represent de-
pendence. But we set out to discover the relation of time
to change, and that is not clearly the same matter. There
is one fact in our temporal experience which is fatal to
the attempt to make dependence take the place of change.
It is, indeed, conceivable that in a changeless system the
relation of dependence should be represented as that of
before-and-af ter ; so that for every being at different points
in the system, all the lower members should seem to be in
the past, and all the higher members should seem to be in
the future. But in such a case every being would have a
fixed present. The being at A m would always have his
present at A m , and past and future would be fixed quanti-
ties in experience. But this is not the case. A m does not
remain the present, but forthwith gives place to J. m +, ; and
this in turn is displaced by Am+ 2 . Thus the future is ever
becoming present and vanishing into the past. But this
fact is impossible so long as there is no change in reality.
Hence change can never be made phenomenal only, but is
a fact of reality itself.

We are certainly not getting on very fast, but we are
making some progress, though it may not be apparent. The
net result thus far is about as follows : There is no inde-
pendent time in which change occurs and by which change
is measured ; but change is nevertheless real, and time as
the form of change is also real. Time dates and measures
do not refer to an independent time, but they express real
facts and relations within the changing series. The series
A, A v A v J. 3 , . . . A n is not in time ; and between A and
A n there is no time. Neither is A earlier than A n in any

TIME 183

absolute time, for that which makes a thing earlier or later
is its position in the series. But A and A^ though not sepa-
rate in any absolute time, are nevertheless not coexistent,
for their relations are such that the existence of either ex-
cludes that of the other. The objective fact is being passing
from state to state, and these states are mutually exclusive.
Change does not, indeed, require time ; but it results in a
new state which excludes, and hence succeeds, its prede-
cessor. This fact of change is basal. It is not in time,
and it does not require time ; but it founds time ; and time
is but the form of change. In the common thought time
exists as a precondition of change ; in our view change is
first, and time is but its form. It has no other reality.

The view thus reached is a compromise between the ideal
and the current view. Absolute time, or time as an in-
dependent reality, is purely a product of our thinking. In
this sense, then, the world is not in time. But change is
real, and change cannot be conceived without succession.
In this sense, the world-process is in time. But distinctions
of time do not depend on any flow of absolute time, but
on the flow of reality, and on the position of things in this
flow. To say that there is time between distant members
of the series, means only that reality changes in passing
from one state to another; and the amount of time is not
simply measured by the amount of change, but is nothing
but the amount of change. The rate of change is the rate
of time ; and the cessation of change would be the cessa-
tion of time.

This, we have said, is about the net result of the previous
discussion; but that we have not yet reached any final
resting-place appears on a little reflection. Thought itself
disappears, if we do not allow some sort of changeless-
ness or timelessness across all change or temporality. The


changing world must in some way be paced to the change-
less, or thought collapses. In treating of change and iden-
tity we found that the two can never be reconciled on the
impersonal plane. The Eleatic was able to refute the Her-
aclitic; and the Heraclitic was equally able to refute the
Eleatic. Meanwhile thought was seen to demand both ele-
ments, but the discovery was also made that their union
could be effected only as we abandoned the abstract cate-
gories of the impersonal understanding, and rose to the con-
ception of active intelligence as furnishing the only possible
concrete union of the categories in question, and as being
indeed the only true reality and the place of all subordinate

These results must be recalled here. The truth is that
the common notion of an extra-mental reality of some sort,
which we have already exorcised and cast out, has unwit-
tingly come back into our thought and darkened the dis-
cussion. This reality, which is supposed to be changing
apart from thought, we have sought to reduce to timeless-
ness, and, as might have been expected, with very imper-
fect success. And we have tacitly assumed that this chang-
ing reality is something possible on its own account, and
that its temporal relations can be determined within the
changing series itself and without any reference to intelli-
gence. In all this we have forgotten our earlier studies,
and by consequence have erred and strayed from the way.
But in fact change is nothing except with reference to an
abiding intelligence. As an idea it eludes us until it is
contrasted with the unchanging ; and as a reality it is noth-
ing until it is subordinated to active intelligence, which is
the only causal reality and which can recognize nothing but
itself and its own products. The attempt to find a present
in the changing series apart from reference to intelligence
is equally a failure. Considered as temporal and extra-

TIME 185

mental, the series falls asunder into past and future, leaving
the present only as the plane of division between them.
With this result, the extra-mental time vanishes altogether.
Hence the doctrine of time must be construed not with ref-
erence to an extra -mental existence, but from the stand-
point of self-conscious intelligence. Only thus can we
escape the intellectual scandals and contradictions and im-
possibilities which haunt both the traditional and the ideal-
istic view of time, so long as any extra-mental existence is

Now from this point of view the question assumes a very
different aspect. Time, as the form of our subjective ex-
perience, takes its origin from the stand-point of conscious
intelligence, which constitutes its own present. This pres-
ent is not in time as anything independent of itself; it is
simply a relation in consciousness. The mind relates its
actual experience to itself, and thus constitutes the only
present there is. When we attempt to have experience in
the present, considered as a point or section of a real time,
we fall into contradiction. We escape this by the insight
that the present can only mean the actual in experience ;
and past and future get all their meaning by being related
to this actual. Experience, then, is not in the present, but
the present is in experience. If we would know what the
present means we must not look for a point in abstract time
by which to define it ; we must rather look into experience
itself for the meaning of the relation.

And this which is true for our subjective time is equally
true for objective or cosmic time. This time also can be
understood and defined only from the stand-point of con-
scious intelligence. Taken abstractly, or by itself, it makes
both the world and thought impossible. And they remain
impossible until it is seen that time is neither an ontologi-
cal reality nor an ontological process, but rather and only a


thought-relation which has neither existence nor meaning
apart from thought.

And thus we come again upon the fact, often referred to
in previous chapters, that thought cannot be understood
through its own categories. That is, the categories are
nothing which precede intelligence and make it possible;
they are rather the categories of intelligence, and for their
concrete meaning we are referred, not to a formal analysis
of abstract ideas, but to our experience of living intelligence.
We have seen this to be the case with the categories of be-
ing, identity, unity, and causality ; and now we find the
same fact in the case of time. Thought is the source of
temporal relations; and for their meaning we must fall
back upon experience, rather than any reflection on the ab-
stract temporal category.

(Jime, then, is not an ontological fact but is essentially a
function of self-conscious intelligence] Shall we say, then,
that intelligence itself is timeless ; and, if we do say so,
have we not fallen into absolute unintelligibility, if not
into downright raving ? Surely, considering the nature of
our experience, the brevity and changefulness of our exist-
ence, it would seem that no one can be serious who denies
our temporality. A little paradox is permissible; but it
becomes an insufferable affront to good sense when it is
carried to such shocking extremes.

This remonstrance has something in it ; but for the most
part it rests on overlooking the distinction between the
phenomenal and the ontological reality. We have repeat-
edly declared that no one can deny time as a form of our
experience, and, in this sense, as a fact of reality. But
this time exists only in the experience of a self-conscious in-
telligence ; and it is permitted to inquire whether it has exist-
ence or meaning apart from that relation. It never occurs to
the idealist to have experiences without temporal relations

TIME 187

among their elements, but these exist only in and for

There is a somewhat complicated thought underlying the
remainder of the remonstrance. The purely temporal form
and relation are complicated with the limitations of the
finite ; and thus two questions quite distinct are confused.
There is also an implicit effort to conceive the non-temporal
temporally, or to make temporal coexistence the antithesis
of temporality. For the sake of untangling the matter,
we must divide the questions, and consider the relation of
time, first, to the finite intellect ; secondly, to the finite
spirit as existing ; and, thirdly, to the infinite and absolute

And, first of all, the finite intelligence, in so far as it is
intelligence, is timeless ; that is, it has no real bef ore-and-
after in it, but it establishes temporal relations. If we say
that such a being is unthinkable m abstraction from tem-
poral relations, that can only mean that an abstract sub-
ject which did nothing, and hence did not manifest itself as
mind, would be nothing for thought. But if we mean that
this mind which establishes temporal and other relations,
and thus produces an articulate thought-life, is itself com-
prised in those temporal relations, as something apart from
and antecedent to thought, we must say that this view is
truly unthinkable and leads to the destruction of thought.
What is this being? It is the subject of the thought-life,
and it knows and reveals itself in this life. If we ask how
it can be a self-conscious subject and manifest itself in the
establishment of the forms and relations of thought, the
answer must be that there is no answer. Reality cannot
be deduced ; it is ; and the only work of speculation must
be to discover what the reality is which is. To recognize
and describe, not to deduce or comprehend, must be our


The pure temporal form does not involve the knowing
subject, whether finite or infinite. When in a dream the
mind gives the spatial form to its objects, the mind is the
source of the form, but it is not included in it. Through
our connection with an organism, however, we acquire a
new relation to space. The organism exists in spatial re-
lations, and thus we seem to have a location. This, as we
have said in the previous chapter, is only an expression of
our finitude, and is no essential part of the space intuition.
The same fact appears in the case of time. The purely
temporal form alone does not involve the subject. But we
are also members of a system which is independent of us,
and we are to a very great extent subordinated to that sys-
tem. This relation manifests itself in a certain temporal
character of our experience. The self is limited ; it comes
and goes, has beginnings and endings, and unpicturable
pauses and variations which are imposed upon it from with-
out. In this sense our life is temporal ; and in this sense
temporality is only the shadow of our finitude and limita-
tion, and our subordination to the total system and order
of finite existence. And this temporality is not in time;
it is simply an aspect of our experience.

From this point of view time is seen to be largely rela-
tive in any case. Time is primarily the form of individual
experience, and would remain relative to the imltvTclual
jwere it"~not for the existence of the cosmic order which
marks the cosmic time, and furnishes the common, time-
piece by which our individual times are regulated^ But
even this does not remove the relativity of time. We have
seen that this process gives no time order until it is related
to conscious intelligence; and the temporal judgment will
vary with the powers of the one judging.

First of all, the present is relative. We have seen that
we cannot have experience in the presentj but we consti-

TIME 189

tute the present by the actual in experience. But the range
of this experience varies with the range of our powers.
One able to comprehend a large body of objects or events
within the field of consciousness would have a more exten-
sive present than another who could grasp but a few. If
we could retain all the objects of experience in equal vivid-
ness and immediacy they would be alike present. A mind
which could do this would have no past. Again, a mind
in full possession of itself, so that it does not come to itself
successively would have no future. Such a being would
have a changeless knowledge and a changeless life. It
would be without memory or expectation, so far as itself
was concerned, yet it would also be in the absolute enjoy-
ment of itself. For such a being the present alone would
exist, and its now would be eternal.

The present, then, is no point in absolute time, but a re-
lation in conscious experience; and its measure and con-
tents depend on the range of our powers. Every intellect
transcends time as mental form ; but the finite mind re-
mains under the law of time as limitation, by virtue of its
finitude. "When we speak of transcending time this double
aspect of the question must be borne in mind. The com-
plete transcendence of time in both senses is possible only
to the absolute person. Here only do we find the absolute
independence and changeless self-possession which are need-
edto constitute the timeTe"slTTii:er Finite minds, on~the
other hand, are in time iim sense; Change penetrates into
their life. But this time is not something which contains
them, or which precedes and conditions the change; and
the changing life is only an expression of our subordination

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