18 October: Kasia Jaszczolt (Cambridge) – “Time, Metarepresentation, and Metaindexicality: A Neo-Whorfian Approach”
Sala Paci, Via Festa del Perdono 7, h. 14:30
I propose to bring together discussions about the metaphysics of time and the passage of time with the linguistic discussions on the concept of time in order to address the question of why time appears dynamic. On my account, apparently dynamic human time is essentially static. I argue that human time is a complex concept. When brought down to the level of conceptual building blocks, it is static: on the level of these building blocks, time does not flow. It only flows on the level of their culture- and language-specific combinations – an account that fits with the neo-Whorfian analysis of the relation between language and thought proposed for example for the conceptualisation of space (Levinson). A further argument comes from the so-called semi-propositional, metarepresentational character of beliefs about time: arguably, time as understood in modern physics of spacetime percolates to common knowledge but only as semi-understood, semi-propositional (Sperber), representational beliefs. Next, I explore the question of indexicality of time vis-à-vis the indexicality of the first-person perspective, proposing what I call the ‘metaindexicality’ of time that explains the apparent dynamicity we attribute to time. The semi-propositional character of beliefs about time, paired with the indexicality of the ego-perspective in, for example, an emergentist picture (Ismael) which I develop as the ‘metaindexical’ account of human time, explains the apparent flow as well as the apparent variable rate of the flow. Finally, I tentatively propose how the dynamicity can be represented in conceptual, contextualist semantics by a nested two-tier operator, loosely based on Torrengo’s phenomenal modifier.