on time

writing keeps ideas in space

speech lets them travel in time

we use paintings to decorate space

music to decorate time

and movies to capture spacetime

«algún día recordaremos, recordaremos», se decía con la seguridad de que el origen de la fiesta, como todos los gestos del hombre, existía intacto en el tiempo y que bastaba un esfuerzo, un querer ver, para leer en el tiempo la historia del tiempo.

on time


Bergson: "The pure present is an ungraspable advance of the past devouring the future. In truth, all sensation is already memory."

  • Metaphysics, anti-rationalism and vitalism (the idea that life permeates everything).
  • The fact that the difference between how we experience the past, present and future is due to our limited and subjective perspective bothered Bergson the most.
  • Argued war instinct could be overcomed by rejecting biology and instinct over philosophy. Freud thought human instinctual drive towards destruction was inevitable.
  • Bergson was very anti-Kantian: "Kant's error was to consider time as homogenous" (Time and Free Will, 1889)
  • Bergson beat Heisenberg by 20 years in anticipating the Uncertainty Principle. His work was seen as a philosophical defense of indeterminism.
  • asked scientists "not to follow laws that governed facts, but facts that govern laws" and his readers to connect thought with action: "One should act like a man of thought, and think as a man of action"
  • Bergson's call to defend philosophical time was part of a much larger effort of protecting philosophy's intellectual standing.
  • Bergson thought movement couldn't arise from discontinuous elements (cinematographic camera), and the self couldn't be divided. (tied this critique with morality and physics in Les Deux Sources de la Morale et la Religion (1932)
  • Bergson mentioned Einstein one last time at 78 years old, in 1937. He described him as brilliant, savvy and ambitious but criticised him for using the League of Nations for personal networking, corresponding with a princess and lecturing to a queen.

Einstein: "Physics, rationality and the idea that the universe is well without us"

  • set out to close the gap of kinetic theory (which only applied to gazes) with Brownian Motion (Nobel).
  • Struggled to find proof agains the 3 Henris: Lorentz, Poincaré and Bergson
  • Discussed war with Freud in Why War
  • Einstein described his "essential being" as defined by his thinking, not his actions or suffers. He argued these three elements could be separated.
    • Einstein's sons were buying and reading biographies of their own father to try to figure out who he was.
    • Wore the same silver watch for 28 years, since he was 14. in 1921, he passed it on to his eldest son, Hans Albert --17.
  • Photographs from the Arthur Eddington's 1919 eclipse expedition confirmed the theory (he later believed the arrow of time was not an illusion and broke with Einstein.)
  • Not the first to promote himself to the public (Darwin followed his image obsessively and collected thousands of news clippings of himself) but the first to obtain worldwide reputation through mass media: 2nd most recognizable name and face in the world by 1917.
  • Einstein expressed admiration for a group of pacifist English scholars (Eddington, Russell) who later became some of his key allies. He supported Russel by writing a foreword to Political Ideals (1922).
  • Charlie Chaplin, who visited Einstein's home in Berlin, thought that "one could find the same apartment in the Bronx."

Heidegger: "human life doesn't happen in time but is time itself", ≠ from Einstein, Aristotle and Bergson

  • After the Einstein-Bergson debate, Husserl turned phenomenology into one of the leading schools of the century. His student, Heidegger, took phenomenology in a different direction.
  • Einstein's error according to Heidegger were the spatialization of time (thinking of time as homogenous, of geometrical concept and quantitatively determinable). Einstein was not dealing with time but rather only with measurements of time. "The theory of Relativity leaves the concept of time untouched" Heidegger boldly concluded.
    • Heidegger thought that by treating time as space, scientists missed a much richer topic: an investigation into aspects of time that could not be studied in the same ways as space.
  • His early work was similar to Bergson's in that the time of the physicist ≠ time of the philosopher and that time was immeasurable. He later increasingly distanced himself from Bergsonian Time and criticized Einstein's work for being based on a simplistic and inadequate notion of measurement.
    • Heidegger's argument echoed Bergson's own critique of measurement in Creative Evolution (1907). For both of them, the act of measuring time destroyed much of it.
      "The flow freezes, becomes a flat surface, and only as a flat surface can it be measured"
  • He recognized that Bergson has made it more clear than any previous philosopher that time is interwoven with consciousness and offered some of "the most intense analyses of time that we possess". He though however that Bergson's work could be re-examined and improved and that Bergson himself was "blocking" a solution.
  • Heidegger, frustrated by the two dominant conceptions of time (Einstein-Bergson), released Being and Time (1924) criticising both. The "Time" in the book's title refers to neither (clock-time vs lived-time). He thought Einsteinian time (clock-time) and Bergsonian time (lived-time) were symptomatic of rationality (science) and irrationality (experience). He concluded "human life doesn't happen in time but is time itself", differing from Einstein, Aristotle and Bergson and taking a different course.
    • Wanted to investigate experiences bergore they were devidided into objective and subjective categories. His analysis included elements mostly ignored by philosophers, like "why certain people seem to never have enough time"
    • proposed Being and Time (1927) as an alternative to both, explaining that it was urgent to find a way out.
  • As the west was becoming more technological, Heidegger analyzed the insight into the metaphysical essence of technology. This included discussions of handwriting, the printing press, the typewriter and electrification.
  • After WW2, Heidegger argued that modern technology = man.
    • Forrest as example: forrest is subordinate to the need for paper, which is driven by newspapers and magazines ∴ forester is an involuntary part of a system, print culture, and can't be separated. Even if the forester is illiterate, he's affected by the printed opinion shallowed by others and ∴ technology == man.
    • thought the public could never be source of Enlightenment since it they were not separable from technology and ∴ could never have sovereignty over it.

Einstein-Bergson Debate

  • Bergson thought all times of equal worth and concluded no one could avoid relating time back to human affairs. Einstein considered this mental constructs, psychological, logical entities: "the philosopher's time does not exist."
    • Bergson's argument against clock dissymmetry was that the clocks we're not equal ∵ one had gone through something the thee other one had not.
    • Bergson argued different trajectories, memories and experiences could not be neglected (≠ Einstein).
  • Bergson considered that instrument-reading practices were philosophically essential since they showed how knowledge depended on the active intervention of a human observer. Einstein disagreed, arguing that the universe and our knowledge of it was not dependant on any observer. Clocks proved this.
    • Bergson argued that we "need to return to psychological assessments" in order to understand how we could read an instrument, even once as simple as a clock.
  • Bergson was almost ready to concede to Einstein by agreeing that clocks traveling at different speeds cannot run in synchronicity and ∴ time slows down when speed increases.
    • However, replacing humans with clocks was a philosophical riddle, since clocks –not humans– consciously conceived the world. Bergson concluded that ∴ time marked by the clocks in Einstein's Relativity was not Time.
  • Bergson → Heraclitus, St Agustin –·– Einstein → Parmenides, Aristotelian
    • "Einstein and his lieutenant Eddington (Eclipse), Bergson, and his lieutenant Whitehead (Principia Mathematica)"
  • Kafka once noted how technologies created to reduce distances between individuals had more drawbacks than benefits. The telegraph, telephone and radio created more division between Einstein-Bergson. (22, Telegraph, Telephone and Radio)
  • Einstein and Bergson held an extremely low opinion of technology. (20, Things): What comes to mind when hearing the word technology? Avarice, exploitation, social divisions amongst people, class hatred. Technology could be considered the "disobedient son of our era"

on time

  • The standardization of time let to uncertainties of earth's longitude, which in turn led to consequences in mapmaking and national borders. Both could easily lead to conflicts or war.
    • The Official Catholic Philosophy at the time was dominated by Thomas rationalism, which was St. Thomas Aquinas' interpretation of Aristotle's Philosophy.
    • The need to adjust time according to time zones had been very controversial, but adjusting holidays (specially Easter) was even more divisive.
    • The Holy See, Orthodox and Anglican churches joined the committee charged of solving this and rejected changes to the calendar that affected everyday life of people.
    • Marx and Engels thought clocks were essential for establishing new factory production methods. A worker's senses of time vs timed marked by a manager's clock.
  • Newton thought absolute time as that of an absolute observer and omniscient consciousness: God.
    • tttttttttt1t1t1t1t1t1t1t1t1t1t1t1t1t1t1t1t1t1t1t1t1t1t1t1t1t1t1t1t1t1t1t1t1t1t1t1t1t1t1t1t1t2t2` .
    • Einstein distanced from Kant (who argued time and space were 2 a priori concepts ∴ can't be studied) by using t1 and t2 , relying not on God nor consciousness but clocks.
  • Relativity and Brownian motion implied that past=future. Brownian motion was used to determine that reversibility was the rule, whereas flow was a rarity, relativity: space/time related but no longer universal.
    • Einstein was criticized for not acknowledging that examples with clocks and people are different. The assumption of a human sized observer in Einstein's definition of simultaneity was often objected.
    • Bergson argued that the concept of local simultaneity described by Einstein was not valid (apt to stand) for a universal definition of time, since it was just a very particular way of understanding time.
    • If our velocity was doubled, so would the drawing of our breath and stroke of our pulse ∴ we wouldn't be able to perceive these changes. There is an intimate connection between biological life and astronomical processes.
  • The Arrow of Time was explained statistically: It could happen that time goes backwards but it is highly unlikely. This was enough for Einstein, but not for Bergson.
    • Einstein concluded that the common conception of space as three-dimensional arose from a limitation due to our body constitution, ∴ our ability to think allowed us to discard this limitation and reach broader conclusions.
      "When a blind beetle crawls over the surface of a curved branch, it doesn't notice that the track it has covered is indeed curved," Einstein said. "I was lucky enough to notice what the beetle didn't notice." The reason why "the universe of these beings is finite and yet has no limits," is because they–blind beetles–simply did not know any better.
    • Bergson concluded that no scientific conception was free from assumptions about how different living consciousnesses related to the world.
  • Husserl: Einstein's formula went against human instinct but he didn't tell us why, science distanced itself from aspects that had meaning for us (time flowing).

note mentions