Time and the Constitution of the Self
(Formerly entitled, “The Phenomenology of Time”)
Dr. Louis N. Sandowsky
Autumn Semester – 2002-2003 – MA
We all know what time is until we begin to talk about it. The most significant philosophers of the Occident have flexed their intellectual muscles over the problem of time and its articulation. This course charts the various forms of temporal discourse that have evolved from the pre-socratics to the contemporary era of Husserl, Heidegger and Einstein. It is on the basis of the radical turns that such discourse has taken that the notion of the Self as a selfsame, monolithic entity, which must be presupposed by any act of consciousness, has found itself to be shaken to the very core. The tradition that put the Self or Ego at the center of all discourse on consciousness actually put the cart before the horse. In the wake of phenomenology and existentialism, rather than presupposing the pre-existence of the Self as an essential substrate of consciousness, the question has become: how is the Self constituted through the temporalization of consciousness?
This is a lecture and seminar based class and it involves close reading of Edmund Husserl’s ground-breaking writing On The Phenomenology of the Consciousness of Internal Time. His meticulous investigations demonstrate the structural dynamics that are necessarily in play in the constitution of the linearity and continuity of experience (which are complementary to the objective discourse of Einstenian relativity). As well as examining the issue of how linear time is constituted – as the principle condition of the possibility of a continuous identity / Self – the aim is to facilitate awareness of the non-linear temporal forms that are also in play throughout this constitution. Such discourse on pluri-dimensional temporalities has now become an almost commonplace theme along with the evolution of computer information dissemination technology (cyberspace).
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