Temporal Experience

November 24-25, 2016

University of Milan, Sala “Enzo Paci”, Via Festa del Perdono 7, Milan





24th November

14.00-15.10  Elvira Di Bona (Jerusalem) – “The Temporality of Auditory Experience”

15.20-15.30  Break

15.30-16.40  Simon Prosser (St Andrews) – “The Feeling of Moving Through Time”

16.40-16.50  Break

16.50-18.00  Christoph Hoerl (Warwick) – “Temporal Experience: Transparency and Presence”

25th November

10.00-11.10  Oliver Pooley (Oxford) – “On the Origins of Our Belief that Time Passes”

11.10-11.20  Break

11.20-12.30  Sylvie Droit-Volet (Clermont) – “The Psychological Time”

12.30-12.40  Break

12.40-13.50  Thomas Sattig (Tübingen) – “Dynamic Temporal Experience in a Static Universe”

13.50-15.20  Lunch

15.20-16.30  Valtteri Arstila (Turku) – “The Role of Experience in the Pacemaker-accumulator Model”


Valtteri Arstila (Turku) – The Role of Experience in the Pacemaker-accumulator Model

The standard pacemaker-accumulator model remains the most commonly used theoretical framework in which to account for our performance in the duration perception tasks. It has been objected on various grounds, not the least because of its relatively modest explanatory and predictive power.
In this talk, I argue that many of these shortcomings can be avoided if the model is supplemented with three interrelated assumptions. First, the pacemaker-accumulator model should specify the internal response based on which the switch operates. Second, such internal responses are the same as the neural states that realize the experience of the stimuli. Third, these neural states function as the pacemaker and the strength of the states correlates with the rate of the pacemaker. Although these claims are partly supported by the studies independent of duration perception research, ultimately the strongest reason to endorse them is that they provide better explanations for the systematic errors in duration perception than the standard pacemaker-accumulator model. However, the supplemented pacemaker-accumulator model has the implication that the duration of experience and the experience of duration, if such thing exists, are separate.

Elvira Di Bona (Jerusalem) – The Temporality of Auditory Experience

I make explicit the commonly accepted claim within the philosophy of sound that auditory experience is distinctively temporal. In order to do that, I will focus on the auditory phenomenology and discuss the three possible ways of experiencing time auditorily. One way is to hear the temporal edges which mark sound’s boundaries, another way is to hear the different temporal phases or temporal moments sounds are made up of and, finally, another way is to hear sounds as persisting items over time despite some qualitative changes. All of them contribute to make our auditory experience temporal. Moreover, I will focus on the stream segregation process — which is at the basis of Bregman’s auditory scene analysis (1990) — and highlight how this process, which develops sequentially and simultaneously, is fundamentally temporal. I will conclude that, given that the possibility of having an auditory experience is based on the stream segregation process, we have good reasons to claim that auditory experience is distinctively temporal.

Sylvie Droit-Volet (Clermont) – The Psychological Time

Some philosophers have argued that time is an a priori representation that we impose on our external world. For other philosophers, it is grounded in our experience. As the young philosopher Guyau (1890) writes “we evaluate durations a posteriori based on the number and the variety of our sensations” (p. 53). Bergson (1968) takes up this idea by arguing that duration is a pure and simple fact of experience. However, the 20th century produced a growing number of empirical demonstrations of the ability of animals and humans to estimate durations accurately. Psychologists have therefore considered that time exists at a psychological level as a reality independent of us, as a physical feature of an objective world that we are able to measure. They thus tried to develop and test models of a mechanism in the brain – an internal clock – responsible for this accurate measurement of time. However, the last 10 years have seen a remarkable resurgence of interest in time distortions and the effect of emotions as a major cause of these distortions. We are witnessing an explosion in the number of new studies that are taking a new look at time estimation and showing how time is highly dependent on external and internal contexts. The aim of this conference is to present recent works on time judgments and their distortions and the role of awareness of time passage on these judgments.

Christoph Hoerl (Warwick) – Temporal Experience: Transparency and Presence

Philosophers frequently comment on the intimate connection there is between something’s being present in perceptual experience and that thing’s being (or at least appearing to be) temporally present. The idea of such a connection can be seen to play a key role in two existing philosophical debates in particular, which have largely been conducted in isolation from each other: one about the nature of conscious experience and one about the nature of time itself. The first concerns the extent to which the temporal properties of experience form an exception to the transparency of experience, meaning that introspection can provide support for one particular view of how experience itself is structured temporally; the second concerns the question as to whether there is something about experience that gives us grounds for thinking that the present is somehow metaphysically special. I argue that looking at both of these debates together, and connecting them with each other, helps resolve what is otherwise a puzzling interpretative question about each of them: In each of them, one side seems to find itself drawn towards making claims that are, on the face of it, self-contradictory, but which, at the same time, are supposed to express an important truth. Clarifying what it actually is that these claims are trying to get at, I suggest, also helps in making sense of what the issues at stake actually are in the intuition of an intimate connection between something’s being present in experience and its being temporally present, in a way that doesn’t render this intuition either just trivial or false.

Oliver Pooley (Oxford) – On the Origins of Our Belief that Time Passes

Taking inspiration from the work of Hugh Mellor, Jim Hartle, Jenann Ismael and, especially, Arthur Falk, I will sketch a B-theoretic account of the origin of our mistaken belief that time passes. Key features of the account are (i) the claim that our belief in time’s passage is not rooted in experiential illusion and (ii) an emphasis on differences between our experiential representations of time and space.

Simon Prosser (St Andrews) – The Feeling of Moving Through Time

Many people report that time seems to have ‘dynamic’ qualities such as ‘passing’ or ‘flowing’, and one aspect of this is a sense that one is ‘moving’ through time, or perhaps equivalently a sense of future events ‘approaching’ and past events ‘receding’. If the B-theory is correct then there is no feature of reality that answers to these descriptions. How then can the B-theorist account for these features of our understanding of time? And why do we use so many motion-related metaphors, when it is clear that we cannot literally be movingthrough time? In this talk I shall offer an outline of an explanation. I shall suggest that the relation in which we stand to future events has elements in common with the relation in which we stand to objects literally approachingthrough space, and that this common element is implicitly represented in temporal thought and, possibly, experience.

Thomas Sattig (Tübingen) – Dynamic Temporal Experience in a Static Universe

Our temporal experience feels dynamic: we seem to experience time as flowing. What explains the dynamic aspect of temporal experience? If time really flows, then there is a simple explanation: temporal experience feels dynamic because time is dynamic. If time is static, however, then temporal experience feels dynamic, although time in fact does not flow. The standard reaction to this apparent tension is to unhitch the dynamic aspect of our experience from temporal reality and to hold that dynamic temporal experience in a static universe is systematically illusory. I shall develop a new kind of account of dynamic temporal experience in a static universe, which draws even with dynamic theories of time by preserving a match of temporal experience and temporal reality. According to this account, dynamic temporal experience is veridical, although time is static.

Organizers: G. Torrengo, D. Bordini, S. Iaquinto, D. Ingram, and D. Vitasovic

Chairs: D. Bordini, V. Buonomo, and N. Young

24-25 November – TFW “Temporal Experience”

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