Where Times Meet

Theodore R. Schatzki

Abstract: This essay pursues two goals: (1) to argue that two fundamental types of time—the time of objective reality and “the time of the soul”—meet in human activity and history and (2) to defend the legitimacy of calling a particular version of the second type a kind of time. The essay begins by criticizing Paul Ricoeur’s version of the claim that times of these two sorts meet in history. It then presents an account of human activity based on Heidegger’s Being and Time, according to which certain times of the two types—existential temporality and succession—meet in human activity. The legitimacy of calling existential temporality a kind of time is then defended via an expanded analysis of activity that examines where the two times meet there. The concluding section briefly considers a conception of historical time due to David Carr before showing why history is a broader domain encompassing human activity where the two times meet.

Keywords: Time of Activity, Historical Time, History and Time, Times of History, Existential Time and Objective Time

Two categories of time have exercised twentieth century philosophers. One is the time of objective reality. The other is the time of human experience or existence, a feature of experience or existence, not necessarily something experienced or lived through. The first category has dominated not just philosophy, but twentieth-century intellectual life more broadly—it is the time of natural science and was also used by and refined in the rationalization processes of Western modernity. The second category was reinvigorated above all by the phenomenological movement, which made “the time of the soul” a going concern. The question of whether these two categories of time instantiate a single master category or form an unimpeachable duality will be ignored here. Assuming that they form a duality, this essay instead pursues two goals: first, to defend the thesis that certain times of the two sorts meet in human activity and history and, second, to defend the legitimacy of calling a particular version of the time of the soul a type of time.

Section one broadly sets out the distinction between the time of objective reality and the time of the soul. Section two takes initial steps toward the first goal, examining Paul Ricoeur’s claim (1988) that times of these two sorts meet in the form of a third time, historical time, that cannot be reduced to either. This thesis contains an important truth, to wit, that times of the two sorts meet in history. Ricoeur, however, wrongly construed the history involved as history writing instead of the nexus of past human actions and events. Following this discussion, section three sketches an account of human activity based on Heidegger’s Being and Time, according to which certain times of the two sorts inherently meet in human activity, not because activity institutes a third time, but instead because it instantiates each time. Section four then takes up the second goal enumerated above, that of defending the legitimacy of calling the Heideggarian time of activity presented in section three a kind of time. This defense proceeds by way of an expanded analysis of human activity that shows in detail how existential action time and objective time meet there. The final section of the essay returns squarely to the first issue, showing why the object domain called history is a broader realm encompassing human activity where the two times meet.

Before beginning, I acknowledge that the current essay pays little attention to the time of objective reality. Most philosophical discussions of time concern this category, and many divergent or contradictory versions of it exist. Theorists have disputed, among other things, whether objective time is absolute, relational, or relative, a pure advance along which events fall, a set of relations among events, or an ordering relative to some frame or perspective. Theorists have also contested whether the entities that occur in time, or relations among which constitute time, are objects, events, atomic events, or processes. Age-old disputes over being and becoming have re-emerged in analyses of the nature of time, just as issues of four-dimensional manifolds and of reversibility and irreversibility have been pressed of late. My essay ignores this diversity of issues and conceptions and treats the time of objective reality as succession. For practically all modern conceptions of the time of objective reality make succession, or before and after, essential to it. Seizing on this common denominator and treating objective time as essentially tied to before and after is sufficient for the purpose of defending the thesis that action and history are where certain times of the two categories meet. Pursuing the second goal of the essay—defending the legitimacy of calling a certain time of the soul a type of time—likewise does not require more than cursory attention to objective time. Anyone who objects to this equation of the time of objective reality with succession can simply treat the topic of this essay as the meeting point of the time of the soul and succession.

I. The Two Categories of Time

As just indicated, characteristic of the time of objective reality is succession. Objective time essentially involves before and after whether it is thought to be absolute, relational, relative, reversible, irreversible, or part of a four-dimensional manifold. Wherever entities occur before and after one another, or either a pure before and after or a before and after ordering exists, there is succession—and time. It does not matter what sorts of entity are involved. In particular, experiences, actions, physical events, and temporal positions alike can be before and after. Indeed, both the natural sciences and the human sciences think of their subject matters as exhibiting successions. Succession, consequently, is not inherently a dimension of physical, or material, reality. It is, instead, the time of objective reality, the universe: anything that happens assumes a position in the successions that mark this reality.

Characteristic of experiential or existential time is past, present, and future. Wherever entities are structured by or distributed among these, there is dimensionality[1]—and time. Again, it does not matter what sorts of entity are involved. For example, physical events can be distributed among these three dimensions as much as experiences, actions, or temporal positions can be. Whereas these three dimensions, however, are not essential to how the natural sciences conceptualize their subject matter, they are essential to how history does this; they also regularly figure in descriptions of human life in the human sciences. What is more, dimensionality does not characterize objective reality. For what is present objective reality, relative to which that reality has a past and future? The state of reality simultaneous with the present of we contemplating the question? This present, however, is relative to us. And this relativity indicates that, even though we are part of objective reality, any ordering of entities as past, present, and future is relative to people. The fact that the pasts examined in evolutionary theory and natural history, like those studied in history, are simply whatever precedes the investigator’s era, illustrates this relativity. It follows that orderings of entities as past, present, and future are as multiple as relevant human presents are numerous. This particular relativity and multiplicity contrast with the independence and unity, as well as with the inertial frame relativity, ascribed to succession. Whereas, therefore, succession is associated with objective reality, past, present, and future have come to be construed as dependent on, even as dimensions of, human experience or existence. This dependence reflects the very real sense that humans possess (and have possessed for at least the past few millennia) that some things have gone by, other things are happening, and more things are to come. Notice that I am not denying that human life occurs in objective reality as part of the successions that fill in the time of that reality. I am both pointing out that past, present, and future—at least in modern thought—are tied to, or a feature of, human experience or existence and asserting that this connection is a characteristic of the category of experiential and existential times.

This division between a time of succession marking objective reality and a time of dimensionality seated in human life emerged in early Christian philosophy. Objective passage is the Greek notion of time, the considerable variations among Greek thinkers notwithstanding (for elaboration of the history in the present paragraph, see Sherover 2003). Deviating from the Greek inheritance, Plotinus (1969) suggested that time is “contained in the differentiation of life.” For Plotinus, time is the life of the soul as it moves from one act or experience to another. This idea makes time a denizen of human existence, but retains succession as its essential feature. The succession that is time is simply an experiential succession, not one independent of experience in reality. Augustine (1961) appropriated Plotinus’s internalization of time, but conceived of the time involved as dimensionality. The time of the soul is a nexus of past, present, and future, or more exactly, a nexus of present past, present present, and present future. Augustine thereby inaugurated a line of Western philosophy that has associated the dimensionality of time with something human—soul, life, experience, existence.

The dominance in the 20th-century of the association of time with objective reality is dramatic. Consider, for example, J. E. McTaggart’s (1908) celebrated differentiation between the A and B time series. The A and B series are two systems—past-present-future and before-after, respectively—for ordering temporal positions or events. “Each position [or event-TRS] is Earlier than some, and Later than some, of the other positions. And each position is either Past, Present or Future.” (McTaggart 1908, 458) McTaggart argued that both series are essential to time: time is one thing of which before and after and past, present, and future are characteristics. He also argued, however, both that the A series is more fundamental than the B series is to time[2] and that the application of the A series to reality involves a contradiction. Hence, he concluded, the A series does not exist, and time is unreal (ibid., 464, 467). “Does not exist” means not true of reality (ibid., 464). McTaggart upheld the association of past-present-future with the time of the soul in suggesting that A series distinctions arise from experience (ibid., 471). He rejected, however, the possibility that the A series might be relative to individual streams of experience because this vitiates the status of time as “belonging to reality,” as “ultimate fact.” (ibid., 472) Hence, the presumption that time is a feature of objective reality (or nothing at all) is essential to this famous argument for the unreality of time.

Also illustrating the dominance of the association of time with objective passage are the various distinctions between types of time found in social theory: they are almost uniformly distinctions among spans, rhythms, and organizations of succession. A good example is Braudel’s (1980) famous differentiation of the longue durée from both the medium term and the event. According to Braudel, categorically different sorts of social phenomena, and categorically different kinds of social explanation, are associated with these three “levels” of time. Temporally, however, the differentiation is simply one between three expanses of time: long, medium, and pointillist. Braudel’s idea is that different types of social phenomena exist, persist, and change over different expanses of succession time and that explaining these phenomena requires attention to the expanses involved. This is a fecund idea, but it equates time with objective succession.[3] The presumption that time is (or lies in nothing but) objective succession ignores both the Augustinian tradition and the evidentness with which for millennia humans have experienced and understood their worlds as past, present, and future.

II. Historical Time as a Third Time

The current section takes up Ricoeur’s argument that objective succession and the dimensionality of life meet in the form of a third time, historical time. I consider this argument because I concur that times of the two categories meet in history but disagree with Ricoeur about how to fill out this claim. I stress that section two addresses arguments found in a single chapter of a single book and does not essay to place these argument in the wider contexts of either the book or Ricoeur’s philosophy. I am interested solely in his account of where lived time and objective time meet; focusing on this chapter suffices for this purpose. In section five, I examine a different conception of historical time that can be speculatively associated with Ricoeur.

Ricoeur’s expression “third time” is misleading. It suggests that, in addition to objective and existential/experiential time, there is a further sort, one pertaining to history. Ricoeur does think that the time of history differs from succession and dimensionality simpliciter. But it does so by being a mix of them that cannot be reduced to either. It is neither “a fragment of stellar time nor a simple aggrandizement of the communal dimensions of the time of personal memory…” (Ricoeur 1988, 122) Rather, it is an interpenetration and “contamination” of the one and the other.

Ricoeur conceptualized the time of the soul as lived time. Appropriating Husserl’s (1964) analysis of internal time consciousness, according to which any present experience retains what was just experienced and intends what is about to be experienced, Ricoeur treated dimensionality as an omnipresent feature of “the lived experience of acting and suffering individuals.” Below, by contrast, I will conceptualize the time of the soul as a time of action. This conceptualization is due to Heidegger (1962), who construed human life as existence and not as a stream of experience as in Husserl. Since, for Heidegger, existence is being-in-the-world and being-in-the-world is acting in practical situations, past, present, and future qua feature of existence are the temporal dimensions of human activity. Ricoeur, too, often drew on Heidegger and sometime described dimensionality existentially (e.g., “mortal time”), but he did not connect this time to action.

Ricoeur argued that history—the writing of narratives—institutes historical time, a third time, through three “reflective instruments:” calendars, the succession of generations, and traces. All three institute this third time by inscribing lived time on “cosmic time” (succession).

Calendars have three key features (Ricoeur 1988, 106-7): a founding event (e.g., the birth of Christ) that serves as the zero point for computing time; an axis defined by this zero point that makes it “possible to traverse time in two directions: from the past toward the present, and from the present toward the past;” and units of measurement based on recurring celestial phenomena. This measured, axied, and null-pointed time instituted by calendars can be called chronicle time. Chronicle time obviously depends on succession. The determination of the zero point also obviously depends on human life (even when the zero point is a physical event). Ricoeur claimed, however, that the idea of a zero point is based on the lived time notion of the present. “If we did not have the phenomenological notion of the present…we would not be able to make any sense of the idea of a new event that breaks with a previous era, inaugurating a course of events wholly different from what preceded it.” (ibid., 107) I do not follow this argument. A structural parallel certainly holds between the position of the present between past and future and the position of the zero point between the times leading to and the times leading away from it. But choosing a zero point requires only that an event be so important that people treat it as a singularity that breaks up the succession of events into three stages: events before the event, the event, and events after it. Indeed, the omnipresence of the phenomenological present contravenes the singularity of the zero point. Nor do I accept Ricoeur’s further claim that being able to traverse time in two directions is based on the fact that human experience retains the past and intends the future. The ability to traverse time bidirectionally is already implicit in the designation of an event that is not a present event as the zero point. What’s more, this ability is an abstract ability that is unrelated to the retention and protention dimensions of experience.

Calendars do not inscribe lived time on cosmic time but instead use an event of great significance to life to calibrate a succession time-measuring system that is based on the recurring movements of the sun, earth, and moon. Using a event in this way does, as Ricoeur wrote, bestow new significances on events that succeed one another, as well as on those through which people live, viz, positions in the new measuring system (and imports relative to the founding event). This would be true, however, even if experience did not have the temporal dimensions Husserl spied. New significances, even new temporal ones, need not be based on the dimensionality of the time of the soul. All in all, chronicle time is a succession time to whose measurement an event of crucial significance to human life is essential. It is not some “third time” reworking the other two.

The second instrument that Ricoeur claimed institutes a third time is the succession of generations. A generation is a biological phenomenon based on the facts of birth, aging, and death. Ricoeur averred (ibid., 109), accordingly, that generational succession provides a biological basis to historical third time that “succeeds” the celestial basis that calendars provide. A generation is also a social entity. For it embraces shared orientations, attitudes, and identities that are grounded in experiences of the same events and in exposure to the same predicaments and “influences.” Ricoeur claimed that, in the pageant of history, biosocial generations form what Alfred Schutz called (1967) the realm of predecessors, contemporaries, and descendents. Noting that predecessors, contemporaries, and descendents are largely anonymous, Ricoeur also connected the phenomenon of generations to time by proposing (Ricoeur 1988, 112) that the realm of predecessors, contemporaries, and descendents exhibits an “anonymous time”—a time that embraces an anonymous past, present, and future—“that is constituted at the turning point of phenomenological and cosmic time.” (ibid.)

Ricoeur defended this proposal mostly by discussing how Schutz generates the idea of anonymous contemporaries from an individual’s lived-through intersubjective relations with others who are bodily present. The key step in this generation is a jump from the shared enduring unfolding of experiences of people who are interacting in person to the not shared but simultaneous unfolding of experiences of those thereby designated contemporaries. This jump leaps from the intersubjectivity of other streams sharing a present with my own to the anonymity of other streams that are simultaneous with mine. It is not obvious, however, that this jump depends on the dimensionality of experience. For it can be effected even if experiential streams are conceptualized as dimensionless successions (of experiences). Like chronological time, furthermore, this anonymous present (and anonymous time more generally) does not retain anything of lived time, i.e., of retentional-protentional structure. Finally, Ricoeur conceded that just as the shared enduring unfolding of experiences is a process over time, simultaneity is an at-the-same-timeness that is extended over time. It follows that the anonymous time exhibited by the realm of predecessors, contemporaries, and descendents is a kind of succession. It does not combine lived time and succession (though it does, as Ricoeur also wrote [ibid., 113], mediate between individual lives and the collective character of history).

Ricoeur’s discussion of generations concludes (ibid., 115) with the suggestion that the notion of a succession of generations, in standing stead for the replacement of the dead by the living, is the anonymous way historians deal with death as the end of each individual life. The notion, he claimed, thereby mediates between the mortal time of the individual and public time. In Ricoeur’s book, mortal time is a form of Heidegger’s existential temporality (as opposed to Husserl’s lived time). Its appearance in the present context, however, does not further Ricoeur’s analysis of historical time as a third time that mixes the times of the soul and objective reality. People are, of course, mortal, and anyone’s ultimate future is, indeed, death. “Mortal,” however, can be interpreted in two ways. Death can, first, be naturalistically construed as the end of a life. The “mortal time” death so understood helps define is a figure of succession, not an existential phenomenon. It does not mix existentiality with succession and so cannot support the idea that the succession of generations institutes a third time. Alternatively, death can be treated existentially, for example, as the possibility of having no more possibilities. It is not clear, however, what death so understood has to do with the succession of generations, the replacement of the dead by the living, or with any means historians use, when speaking of groups, to deal with the fact that death is the death of an individual person. Even, therefore, when death is understood existentially, Ricoeur’s mention of mortal time in the present context does not buttress the idea that generational succession institutes a third time.

The third instrument is traces. The expression “traces” refers to the materials historians attend to in constructing their accounts of the past: documents chiefly, but also other remnants such as tools, human remains, films, and ruins. These artifacts are vestiges, left-overs from the past; they are material entities and arrangements thereof that have come down to us. In attending to them, the historian treats them, via imagination and inference, as indicators of a past hic and nunc: the activity of human beings who have been. A trace is thus a sign-effect: both an effect of past activity and something that points to actions, states of affairs, and events, including the actions that caused it. The trace thus combines relations of significance and causality.

According to Ricoeur, a trace institutes a third time, the time of history, in which lived time and succession “overlap” or “contaminate” (ibid., 123) one another. This overlap is evidently connected with the nature of the trace as sign-effect. Qua sign, the trace points toward phenomena bound up with lived time, i.e., human actions and the events bearing on them, whereas qua effect it is linked to the realm of before and after. As with calendars and generational succession, however, it is not obvious that anything pertaining to lived time characterizes the trace or the time it institutes. Nothing of the temporality of the stream of experience—the retention of the past or protention of the future—is implicated in the notion of a trace. The actions that the trace qua sign points to could merely be links in causal series of actions, dimensionless events taking place before and after other events. The historical time that traces institute is supposed to combine features of lived time and succession. It actually combines features of life with succession; indeed, all three instruments inscribe life, not its temporality, on succession. So the time of history is a kind of succession. It is not some third thing.

Of course, historians are interested in reconstructing both the temporality of life and the time of the universe. This becomes evident when the temporality of life is interpreted as teleological action temporality (see section three): a historical narrative both tells of actions and events that succeed one another and describes the teleological dimensions of the human lives involved. Toward the end of his discussion, Ricoeur suggested that calendars, generational successions, and traces do not themselves combine lived and cosmic time. Rather, historians do this. It is their use of calendars, generational successions, and traces in fashioning accounts that “constructs the juncture brought about by the overlapping of the existential and empirical in the significance of the trace.” (ibid., 125) Ricoeur filled out this suggestion by showing how features of what Heidegger called “world time” (something tied to existential dimensionality—see section four) structure the employment of traces and thereby interject an element of existential time into their significance. In Ricoeur’s (ibid., 92) presentation, however, the features of world-time involved—datability, extension, and publicness—structure the employment of traces only in these features’ nonexistential, objective (“leveled-off”) form, as features of time ordinarily conceived of as a succession of moments: actual dating, measurement of intervals, and simultaneity. Once again, nothing of lived cum existential temporality survives in the time instituted by traces.

Still, Ricoeur is right, I believe, that existential and objective time meet in history. What’s more, his suggestion that the activity of historians, and not an entity or idea used or scrutinized by them, is the vehicle whereby existential time and succession are intercalated, valuably points toward the possibility that action is the site where times meet. This possibility is dimly reflected in Ricoeur’s contention that the narratives that historical practice produces “refigure” time in the sense of mixing phenomenological and cosmic times. Narratives do, indeed, mix times of the two sorts. Vis-à-vis the topic of this essay, however, this fact comes too late. Narratives tell of successions of actions and events and the existential dimensions of the actions involved only because (1) successions that embrace human activity evince existential dimensionality and (2) the dimensionality of human life is bound up with successions (e.g., those people respond to). That is, times of the two sorts intermingle in the object domain called history—not just in narratives of happenings in that domain, as Ricoeur implied. More to the point, this intermingling characterizes each and every human action. For human activity is at once positioned before and after other events and inherently dimensional.

III. Activity as the Meeting Point of Times

The following analysis of human activity is based on Heidegger’s account of being-in-the-world in Being and Time. The reason I draw on Heidegger at this juncture is that his account of being-in-the-world offers a propitious account of human activity and its temporality. Because I have elsewhere discussed how it does so (Schatzki forthcoming), the current section simply refers to, and does not interpret, Heidegger.

Acting has a dual ontological nature. It is an event, or occurrence, in objective time, where to take place in objective time is to occur before and after other events. It is also a performance, which means (1) that it is a doing and (2) that it is voluntary and intentional. A doing is an accomplishment, an event for which someone or something is responsible. A doing is intentional if and only if it occurs in order that something be the case (i.e., purposively) because something else is the case (i.e., for a reason), where to take place in order that something be the case in turn means to take place either aiming at it or so that it is achieved (breaking a window and throwing a baseball to break a window illustrate, respectively, the two possibilities). Acting is inherently a teleological event.

Whenever someone acts, i.e., purposively does something for a reason, performing the action makes sense to her as the thing to do given …in order to … for the sake of some way of being. If, because the neighbor’s dog bit him the day before, someone throws a baseball at a neighbor’s window in order to break it, doing this makes sense to her for the sake of something like gaining revenge. The way of being for the sake of which someone acts—her end—is something sought, something toward which she comes in acting. This phenomenon clearly has something to do with the future. Indeed, Heidegger claimed (1982, 265) that it is the primary concept of Zu-kunft, though I will not advocate this claim in the following. An important feature of the end of activity is that qua end it does not come after activity; it is not something that, at the time of acting, does not yet exist, at which acting aims. Rather, qua end it is something that is sought so long as the person acts; the end qua end must be so long as the performance continues (the end satisfies this condition by being a possible way of being). Since, consequently, acting for the sake of…has something to do with the future, this future, the existential future of acting, is a dimension of current activity.

That, furthermore, the baseball thrower does something because the dog bit her reveals something about how things matter to her. How things matter to a person is a not chosen condition in which she finds herself, a way she in each case already is. That things already matter to a person in this way or that has something to do with the past: what matters, that given which (because of which) a person acts, is something the actor commences from, or as Heidegger put it (1962, 390), “goes back to” in acting. Qua something that matters, i.e., qua motive, however, that because of which someone acts cannot precede the action; it cannot be something that at the time of acting no longer exists (indeed, what matters-motivates can be something that has not yet occurred). Rather, that because of which a person acts is that because of which she acts so long as she acts. So the existential past of acting, like its existential future, is a dimension of current activity. The past and future of a performance are, respectively, something mattering and pursuing a particular end, both of which exist throughout the performance

As a teleological event, consequently, acting has two times: (1) the position (instant or interval) it occupies before and after other events and (2) its stretchedness between a future (end) and past (something mattering). Acting is an occurrence that at once occupies a place in the successions of objective reality and exhibits an existential past and future. Heidegger marked the significant difference between these two types of time by describing succession as “time” (Zeit) and marshalling the term “temporality” (Zeitlichkeit) for existential dimensionality. I will henceforth follow this usage. Human acting is the site where the temporality of the soul and the time of the universe meet.[4] It so qualifies, however, not by virtue of joining features of each in some third time as in Ricoeur, but instead by virtue of possessing a dual nature as a denizen of succession and what fills out existence.

Alfred Schutz (1962, 215) noted a similar two-foldness:

We experience our bodily movements simultaneously on two different planes: inasmuch as they are movements in the outer world we look at them as events happening in space and spatial time…; inasmuch as they are experienced together from within as happening changes, as manifestations of our spontaneity pertaining to our stream of consciousness, they partake of our inner time or durée.

The bodily movements of which Schutz wrote are, in my terminology, bodily actions. They are doings—bodily events for which the human being is responsible—that are actions either because they themselves are the actor’s ends or because she performs them in order to achieve her ends. The succession time of bodily acting is the interval occupied by the movement in which it consists (when the person acts in order to achieve an end, the acting subtends further actions whose extents depend on the end involved and the causal processes spawned by the movement that lead to the end’s achievement). Schutz, following Bergson, characterized succession time as “spatial time.” At the same time, since the bodily action is performed purposively and for a reason, it instantiates existential temporality. Schutz, again following Bergson, substituted durée—the inner time constituted in the continuous advance of conscious life—for existential time in his formulation: acting is “an event in spatial time” that “partake[s] of…durée.” Of course, Heideggarian existential temporality considerably differs from Bergsonian durée. Existence, according to Heidegger, is a happening whereas conscious life, according to Bergson, is a flow. Durée, furthermore, is not inherently teleological and connotes “succession without separation” or “the uninterrupted solidarity of before and after” (Bergson 1965, 45) Elsewhere (Schatzki under review) I have discussed at length this difference and my reasons for preferring Heidegger over Bergson in theorizing the kind of time of action that complements succession.

IV. Heideggarian Existential Temporality as Time

The current section defends the cogency of calling the time of the soul, in particular, the existential temporality of activity described in the previous section, a type of time. Although my argument, strictly speaking, applies to Heideggarian temporality alone, I intend it to be a stand-in for a defense of the propriety of calling existential or experiential times in general (including Husserlian retentional-protential structure and Bergsonian durée) types of time. I offer this defense for two reasons. The first is that, as mentioned at the outset, a powerful intuition in present-day Western intellectual culture is that time is essentially tied to succession: anyone with this intuition will reject the idea that going back to certain states of affairs coming toward certain ways of being constitutes a type of time. The second reason is that my defense takes the form of a description of how existential time and succession meet in activity.

Replies to the rejection of existential temporality as a form of time can, among other things, (1) appeal to Plotinus and Augustine as originators of an alternative way of thinking, (2) claim, as Heidegger did, that being toward an end is the primary sense of Zu-kunft, (3) follow Heidegger in claiming that existential temporality is a form of time because it explains succession time, or (4) highlight differences between past, present, and future, on the one hand, and before and after on the other. The conclusion of this section briefly follows the fourth tact, which I consider decisive. Most of this section, however, elaborates my account of activity time by drawing into it Heidegger’s notion of world time. This notion identifies key temporal features of human activity that suggest that existential temporality is legitimately labeled a kind of time. My discussion of world time critically works off a thought-provoking analysis of it offered by a prominent interpreter of Heidegger, William Blattner.

Blattner (1999) argues (1) that Heidegger maintained that the dimensionality of existence is a type of time, (2) that Heidegger held this because he, Heidegger, thought that dimensionality can explain the ordinary concept of time as a succession of nows (henceforth, time so conceived will be called “ordinary time”), and (3) that because his attempt to show that dimensionality explains ordinary time fails, the dimensionality of existence does not qualify as a type of time. The principal reason Heidegger’s demonstration fails is that succession, an essential feature of ordinary time, cannot be derived from dimensionality. Blattner is right that Heidegger’s argument that dimensionality explains succession (ordinary time) fails; this is already signaled in the claim that dimensionality and succession are distinct kinds of time. This failure, however, does not preclude dimensionality from being a form of time; it entails only that Heidegger did not have a good argument for maintaining that it is (and also that dimensionality is not originary time as Heidegger claimed [1982, 268]). Incidentally, Heidegger’s claim that dimensionality explains ordinary time is his version of the idea that objective time derives from the time of the soul. Schelling and Bergson are two other prominent advocates of this idea. This idea represents a further position on the relation between succession and the time of the soul, already mentioned others being the claims that the time of the soul is not a form of time at all, that the two categories of time form a duality, and that they are versions of a single master category. As noted at the outset, I simply assume in this essay that the two forms of time form a duality.

As Heidegger used the expression, “world time” denotes the time a person expresses and reckons with (explicitly or sotto voce) in continuous ongoing life, the time in which the entities and events she therewith deals with are encountered. In the following, I want to show that the temporal character of world time depends just as much on existential dimensionality as it does on succession. This fact does not entail that dimensionality is a type of time. If, however, the temporal being of something depends on X and Y, and X is a kind of time, then prima facie it is at least plausible that Y is a kind of time, too. In other words, this double dependency provides some reason to think (1) that any insistence that succession is the only type of time needs defense (i.e., cannot simply be assumed, as is usual) and (2) that it is plausible to think that the time of action is dual. Indeed, once Heidegger’s attempt to derive ordinary time from existential temporality is abandoned, this double dependency provides impetus for thinking that time is dual: the failure of Heidegger’s monism need not promote an opposed monism. Blattner, incidentally, acknowledges (1999, 184) the possibility that world time could depend on both dimensionality and succession and comments that this is a “comfortable position” for a naturalist. I do not claim that the following “naturalist” position should be attributed to Heidegger.

I offer two arguments for the claim that the temporal character of world time depends as much on existential temporality as on succession. The first argument concerns the proper interpretation of world time and maintains that the nows of world time and the nows of ordinary time are not identical. The second argument makes a more general point about the two categories of time, arguing that the past, present, and future of world time cannot be analyzed into before and after and instead require existential dimensionality.

Both world time and ordinary time contain nows. The nows of world time are the nows a person expresses and reckons with and in which the phenomena she deals with are encountered. World time nows can thus be formerly defined as the nows in terms of which action proceeds. The nows of ordinary time, by contrast, are empty instants or intervals (durations), the latter ranging from the infinitesimal to the infinite, that lie in the continuum of objective reality and form limitless successions. Blattner holds (1999, 217-9) that any world time now is also a ordinary time now and that nows of the two types ultimately constitute one overall succession: world time nows do not form their own succession(s) distinct from the successions of empty nows. While I agree with the second thesis, I deny the first. Contra Blattner, a world time now is not identical with an ordinary now. Rather, as I explain below, to any world time now corresponds a ordinary time now, and it is because of this correspondence that any world time now can be assigned a position in the overall continuum of empty nows. World time nows also belong to nonsuccession teleological sequences distinct from succession sequences of ordinary nows. All in all, my point is that features of world time nows are as dependent on existential dimensionality as they are on succession.

Any world time now is someone’s now (possibly indefinitely many people’s now). More specifically, any now is the now of a particular person’s stream of activity (particular persons’ streams). Heidegger noted that a world time now is datable: it is a now that such and such. More fully, it is a now that such and such, it is time to do so and so (see Heidegger 1962, 467), where such and such is a state of affairs pertinent to ongoing activity and the action whose time has come is what the person is doing. Such and such stands for the situation of action. A world time now is, thus, now performing this action in this situation (cf. Brockelman 1977). For instance, a person’s now might be now writing on a blackboard in the middle of class. Because the bounds of a person’s situation are usually elastic, so too is the identity of his now. The person could be writing on the blackboard, not just in class, but also facing the need for pedagogical improvement.

Courses of activity, moreover, are informed by earlier and later on: a person proceeds out of an understanding of both then, when such and such and formerly, when such and such (the such and suchs can be actions, events, or situations). These then, whens and formerly, whens articulate or bear on the teleology that governs acting: an actor always proceeds out of an understanding of then, whens and formerly, whens that attach to the ends, purposes, and motives of current acting. If the teacher’s purpose in writing on the blackboard is to convey a point, he acts understanding that then, when the point is conveyed, I’ll, say, call it quits for the day. If the end of writing on the board is, say, to be as good a teacher as possible, he also acts understanding that then, when I’ve been as good a teacher as I can, I can get back to research. Similarly, if he is writing on the board because no one understood what was said the previous class, he proceeds understanding formerly, when no one understood what I said. Note that because earlier and later on are horizons of action, only what bears on, i.e., is relevant to what someone is doing and why can date a then or formerly.[5]

Heidegger’s world time is a feature of activity. A world time now is a now doing this in this situation; the openness of activity to earlier and later harbors world time thens and formerlies that articulate the teleological structure of action (or are otherwise relevant to the course of action, as when a then, when articulates an expectation); and these modalities are held together through a person’s being stretched between sought ways of being and things mattering. To these nows, thens, and formerlies correspond ordinary time nows (empty instants and intervals). The latter are implicit in the former. The ordinary time now lying in the world time now is the instant or interval during which performing this-action-in-this-situation occurs. The ordinary nows lying in the then, when such and such and formerly, when such and such are likewise instants or intervals. The reason why ordinary nows correspond to these world time phenomena is that, because an action at once occurs before and after other events and is stretched from mattering toward ends, its current world time now coincides with an instant or interval in succession time.

World time nows, however, are not identical with ordinary time ones. To begin with, a world time now is relative to situation: now doing this in this situation. This phenomenon is indivisible. By contrast, when the ordinary now that corresponds to this world time now is an interval, it is divisible, indeed, indefinitely so. Nows of both sorts, furthermore, belong to sequences. Formerly, when such and such/acting in this situation/then, when such and such form a sequence, to which corresponds a sequence of ordinary nows, t1, t2, t3. These sequences are distinct, though not separate. The ordinary now sequence is a succession of content-less instants and intervals that fits into a wider field of such successions. By contrast, the expressions “then, when such and such” and “formerly, when such and such” have teleological meaning. It is not just that teleology supplies the contents, the such and suchs (ends and motives), for these expressions. “Then, when such and such” means either end/purpose of acting achieved or what motivates acting obtains, whereas “formerly, when such and such” means what motivates acting obtains. These expressions are by definition temporal expressions. The temporal nature of the sequence, as a result, is in part teleological: existential temporality is a teleological phenomenon. Of course, formerly-now-then also ipso facto form a succession because a now that is not yet and a now that is no longer are contained in the then and formerly: now no longer-now-now not yet.[6] Formerlies, nows, and thens, hence the temporal nature of any sequence of them, combine teleology and succession.

A further difference between a world time sequence and a ordinary time one is that transitivity is a property of the second but not of the first. If t1 precedes t2 and t2 precedes t3, t1 precedes t3. By contrast, it is not obvious how transitivity applies to a world time sequence. It does, of course, apply to the succession contained in such a sequence. But it does not apply to the sequence as such. To begin with, the relation of what-motivates-acting obtains (past) to acting (present), and that of acting (present) to end-of-acting achieved (future), are of different types: motivation and seeking. Moreover, a transitivity relation that Blattner (e.g., 1999, 182) ascribes to the future—if one acts for the sake of one thing and pursues that thing for the sake of another thing, one acts for the sake of the second thing—does not hold of the past. If one acts because of one thing and proceeds because of that thing because of another thing (this second because might not exist), it does not follow that one acts because of the second thing. For example, if the teacher writes on the blackboard because the students did not follow the previous lecture, and he is motivated by this failure because (he believes) they need to learn, it does not follow that his reason for writing on the blackboard is that they need to learn. In short, the world time past and future are typically asymmetrical, whereas before and after are symmetrical. A final difference between the two sequences is, again, divisibility. Between the temporal positions in any succession exist further positions. This fact reflects the indefinite divisibility of continuous time. In a world time sequence, however, there are only as many positions as there are components to the teleology governing the sequence. World time, consequently, is gappy (Heidegger 1962, 462), that is, composed of elements between which no further elements occur.

Blattner (1999, 217-8) seems to fear that affirming the distinction between the two types of sequences entails the existence of something like a multiplicity of streams of time, a supposedly unintelligible idea. However, because any world time sequence contains an ordinary time succession, and because all ordinary time successions fit together (relativistic considerations are not pertinent in this context), world time sequences are commensurable—both with one another and in the sense that all sequences form a single succession. Still, the nows of world time and the nows of ordinary time are different both qua nows and in the types of sequence to which they belong. The temporal character of world time thus very much depends on dimensionality.

I will be briefer regarding the second argument for this dependence. This argument illustrates the above mentioned fourth type of response to the dismissal of existential dimensionality as a kind of time. It stakes two claims: (1) that world time essentially exhibits past, present, and future, and (2) that existential dimensionality is necessary to there being this past, present, and future. McTaggart’s discussion of two systems of temporal ordering—before and after, and past, present, and future—spawned considerable discussion of the relations and priorities between the systems. The claim that succession is the only real kind of time entails that temporal ordering can be exhaustively analyzed via before and after.

World time is the time of concernful absorption in the world. Twentieth-century philosophy and psychology have constantly reaffirmed the idea that an omnipresent feature of mindful activity in practical contexts is its current, that is to say, present stage: what someone is presently doing—this in this situation. It is inconceivable, moreover, that activity has a present stage without also possessing past and future ones; this truism is reflected in the fact that philosophy, psychology, and the human sciences generally have often analyzed human life into past, present, and future phases. Past, present, and future, however, cannot be reduced to before and after relations. For the singularity of the present resists analysis in terms of such relations. In discussions of such topics, those advocates of temporal ordering as succession alone who treat time as a procession of moments (or positions) define the present moment as the one that is neither before nor after the moment “this here” sentence is written or read. (The analysis can be relativized to any arbitrary moment.) Transposed to the current discussion, the idea is that, assuming that world time, or rather, human life always has a now, the present world time now can be defined as the now that is neither earlier nor later than now writing or reading this here sentence. More directly, the present now can be defined as now writing or reading this here sentence. The problem with this definition is that there is no way to pick out the action (writing or reading; more generally X-ing) relative to which past and future are to be defined, independently of the present world time now. One relies on the present now to identify this action, in this case, writing or reading. (A parallel predicament holds of the thesis that all temporal orders are analyzable as before and after relations.) The present, in other words, is simply given and is not analyzable.

What holds of the world time present holds of its past and future. They cannot be analyzed into before and after. It should be obvious, moreover, that the above discussed earlier and later on horizons of world time are essentially tied to existential dimensionality: if existence was not departing from…coming toward…(thrown projecting), action would have not have these horizons. The fact that these temporal features of world time depend on existential dimensionality once again makes it at least plausible that dimensionality warrants consideration as something kin to time.

V. The Times of History

The preceding discussion makes vivid how existential time and succession meet in human activity. As indicated, however, I agree with Ricoeur that history is a much broader arena than action simpliciter where times meet. Before laying out my version of this thesis, I want first to consider a notion of historical time due to David Carr that resonates with Ricoeur’s account of human life and narration (see Ricoeur 1991).

Drawing on Husserl, Carr (1986) argues that human experience and action exhibit a narrative structure that centrally consists in a beginning-middle-end ordering. He offers a parallel analysis of communities. For present purposes, he makes three key claims about communities: (1) that “a community exists wherever a narrative account exists of a we which has continuous existence through its experiences and activities (Carr 1986, 163; cf. 149-50; such a narrative exists when individuals accept or subscribe to it, thereby becoming community members); (2) that we-narratives display the beginning-middle-end order possessed by narratives that structure action; and (3) that the configured sequences of past events related by we-narratives constitute historical time. Historical time is, thus, the narrative past of a community, to or on the background of which the community connects or undergoes present events befalling it. Although Carr suggests that community-constituting narratives can be “pre-thematic” (not consciously entertained; most narratives that constitute actions are this), he mostly describes them as “told,” thereby indicating that they are formulated (e.g., by leaders or bards), though not as reflectively formulated as are historians’ narratives (ibid., 177).

Carr’s analysis of communities suggests a relation between the time of the soul and historical time that differs from the one discussed in section two. Whereas Ricoeur claimed that historical time involves an inscription of lived time on objective time, Carr suggests that the past-present-future structure of a person’s activity (a form of existential activity time) is interwoven with historical times, with the configurations of past community actions (and experiences) that are related in the narratives that constitute the communities to which the person belongs. The existential temporalities of a person’s actions can, among other things, devolve from the historical times of her communities, take over elements from them, be formulated in their terms, fit into them, or otherwise respond to them (e.g., ibid., 112, 162).

There is at least one mistake and two limitations to this way of linking existential and historical times. The mistake is that action is not intrinsically structured narratively, whether inchoately as Ricoeur (1991) suggested or unreflectively as Carr argues. Elsewhere I have argued at length (Schatzki, forthcoming) that teleological structure is not a narrative and that the teleological temporality of activity is not narratival (among other things, to act for the sake of state of being is not to project a narrative whose end and middle stage are the achievement of that state and current activity, respectively). Existential activity time has nothing inherently to do with the beginning-middle-end order of narratives. The first limitation is that, because societies encompass considerably more than the we-communities Carr discusses (pace ibid., 117), his notion of historical time has restricted scope. What he dubs “historical time” is a property of historical entities of just one sort. History writing, historically speaking, has indeed been closely connected to we-communities, e.g., we Greeks, we Christians, we British. What’s more, Carr (ibid., 100) is right that only events of social significance quality as “historical” in one sense of the term. The time of history, however, is something more general, the time of a domain, not a property of one type of entity in that domain. Carr does highlight the contributions narratives make to courses of events in that domain. He overlooks that the time of history is the time of that domain, however, because he is interested in history only as it is for humans (e.g., ibid., 133) and therefore construes historical time (the second limitation) as something narrated and only as such a feature of the domain of history. The time of history is more complex than community narratives plus whatever contribution they make to existential temporality.

History itself has been, and is still today, widely construed as the realm and course of human action. This realm can be equated with des gestae, as Collingwood (1999) advocated, or described as encompassing human actions and their intended and unintended effects, as Ricoeur (e.g., 1991) and others have urged. So understood, history is ipso facto the meeting point of times, at least when existential time is construed as a feature of human activity. Elsewhere (2003) I have suggested that history be demarcated differently, as the realm and course of practice-arrangement nexuses. For (1) an action is inherently part of a practice (where by “practices” I mean open spatial-temporal action manifolds such as political practices, educational practices, sports practices, cooking practices, and so on); (2) actions are performed at and amid arrangements of material entities (people, artifacts, organisms, and things of nature); so that (3) history as the realm and course of human action inherently takes place within bundles of practices and material arrangements. History as pervasively construed is an abstraction (extraction) from the wider dynamic realm of practice-arrangement bundles. Accordingly, whatever justifies singling out the realm and course of human activity as the object of a particular discipline (history) also justifies taking the wider reality of which this object is inherently a part as the fuller object of that discipline. My claim that history is the meeting-point of dimensional temporality and succession is thus the thesis that the realm and course of practice-arrangement bundles is this site. This realm and course must, therefore, exhibit both dimensional temporality and succession.[7]

The key phenomenon in this regard is practices. A practice (see Schatzki 2002) is an open manifold of actions organized by phenomena of three sorts: (1) understandings of how to perform the actions that compose the practice, (2) rules, by which I mean explicit instructions, admonishments, and orders, regarding the practice’s actions, and (3) what I call a “teleoaffective structure” that embraces end-project-action combinations that participants in the practice either acceptably or are enjoined to carry out. (It also embraces acceptable and enjoined affectivities, a fact that I will set aside in the following.) A practice, as an open set of actions each positioned in succession time, encompasses an overall succession of often overlapping actions. This succession constitutes the course of the practice, at least of its action component. The course of a practice also embraces chains (causal sequences) of action. A complete accounting of the successions marking a practice would include such further topics as the rhythm, regularity, and repetition of its constituent actions.

A practice is not just a set of actions. It also embraces an organization, which endures over time. The endurance of practice organization is not a sequence, but consists in understandings, rules, ends, projects, and actions remaining part of the organizational array expressed by the advancing manifold of actions that composes the unfolding practice. Giddens (1979: chapter two), like many other theorists, treats the endurance of organization (“structure” in his terms) as the subsiding of organization outside time and space. It is better to conceptualize the endurance of organization as a temporal phenomenon. For a practice’s organization changes, and it is not obvious how a neostructural account such as Giddens’s handles changes in an extra-spatial-temporal entity. Of course, many components of a practice’s organization remain the same over time. The succession that characterizes practice organization is usually marked by piecemeal change amid sameness, thus by slow transformation.

A practice encompasses not just the befores and afters of its constituent actions and organizational elements. It also harbors existential temporalities. Each of the actions that helps composes a practice goes back to such and such while coming toward something. The past and future dimensions of different constituent actions, performed by the same or different participants, can overlap or be the same (e.g., people act for the same end or carry out the same projects for the same end). The existential times of different activity streams can also be interdependent, as when one person does something because another person pursues a given end. All these existential temporalities are shaped in the organization of the practice involved: the shared and interdependent existential temporalities of the practice’s constituent actions are normatively circumscribed and enjoined by the enduring rules and teleoaffective structure that house the practice’s accepted and enjoined existential temporalities.

The ontological status of enjoined practice teleologies differs from that of the existential temporalities of particular actions and activity streams: an enjoined teleology is a feature of a practice, not of the individuals participating in the practice. Versions of this teleology are taken up by different participants. More broadly, the pool of acceptable and enjoined teleologies housed in a practice’s rules and teleoaffective structure is a property of the practice, not of its participants. A practice thus contains what might be called an “objective” existential temporality: its normative pool of existential temporalities. This objective pool specifies the existential temporalities actually instantiated in the practice’s constituent actions to the extent that the practice’s rules and teleoaffective structure determine what participants actually do and why. Usually correlative with the organization’s success in this regard is the extent to which it specifies chains or successions of actions. This joint shaping of existential temporalities and successions yields whatever coordination and orchestration characterize the actions composing the practice. Practices vary greatly in their specification of temporality and time within them (compare military, religious, and economic practices).

Actions are not just moments of practices, but also performed amid arrangements of material entities (see Schatzki 2002, passim). Arrangements obviously subside in succession time: they come and go in this time, and which entities compose them changes over time. They do not, however, partake of existential temporality; only actions and actors do that. An arrangement does reflect any existential temporality in whose name it is laid out, as when a classroom is laid out with an eye to the ends to be pursued there. How an arrangement, or its components, are swept up into human activities likewise devolves from the existential temporalities of the activities involved. An arrangement can also help shape which existential temporalities are instantiated in a given practice, as when an instructor reacts to the appearance of the provost’s son in the classroom by acting for the sake of enhancing her reputation. In ways such as these, arrangements are closely enmeshed with existential temporalities even though they themselves do not possess such temporalities.

As noted, human action proceeds not just within practices and amid arrangements but as part of practice-arrangement bundles. Two examples of such bundles are educational practices-classrooms and educational practices-private offices (the arrangements involved—classrooms and offices—might also be materially connected, for instance, by hallways and lines of communication). The foregoing discussion should make clear how practice-arrangement bundles, and thus history as the realm and course of such bundles, qualify as the site where succession and existential temporality meet. Note that, because such bundles invariably embrace varied state of human coexistence, they compose social phenomena, familiar examples of which include governments, families, workplaces, universities, racial prejudice, economies, communities, road traffic, and religions. Any practice-arrangement bundle (indeed, any social phenomenon) exhibits a configuration of successions and existential temporalities (objective, shared, and interdependent) that arises from the temporalities and times instantiated in its constituent practices as these practices unfold amid its constituent material arrangements.[8] Bundles differ in the differential emphasis place in them on the existential past, present, or future; whereas nations, for instance, often emphasize the past, start-up companies emphasize the future. Other temporal features of a bundle or social phenomenon are successions and sequences of action, thus rhythms, regularities, and repetitions, as well as changes in arrangements and in practice-arrangement couplings (i.e., which practices are carried out at which arrangements). A more detailed account of the temporality and time of practice-arrangement bundles would address still further matters (see Schatzki 2002, chapter four) such as the emergence of new practices (via imposition, condensation, and appropriation) and the dynamics of such bundles, which includes such phenomena as contagion, hybridization, and bifurcation (cf. Rheinberger 1997), coherence and conflict, fragmentation and insemination, lines of flight (cf. Deleuze and Guattari 1984), media of communication, and politics.

To sum up: history is the realm and course of practice-arrangement bundles. It is the site of myriad individual, shared, interdependent, and objective practice and social formation existential temporalities that are harbored in the organizations of practices and jointly shaped by the layouts of arrangements, past successions of actions, and the narrative formations as well as discursive regimes of practices and formations. History also obviously contains myriad action successions residing in the overall passage of earthly affairs. The time of history is the totality of shapes and series assumed by the two times in history. History, indeed, is the realm and course of the meeting of times.

This essay has argued that human activity, and human history more broadly, is the meeting point of existential time and succession. My discussion took off from a similar thesis of Ricoeur’s regarding history and filled out how the two categories meet in activity and history by way of a Heideggarian account of activity and a practice theoretical account of history. The essay also supplied considerations in favor of the thesis that the time of the soul, at least when this is understood as the existential-teleological time of activity, is legitimately construed as a type of time. Although the scope of the claims I have defended are limited, strictly speaking, to the Heideggarian and practice theoretical forms in which I formulated them, as well as to those conceptions of objective time that make succession essential to it, they point toward the veracity of the wider claims. Left unfinished are a more comprehensive account of history as the meeting point of times, an account of the relation between the times and spaces of history, and the issue of whether the time of objective reality and the time of the soul are two forms of one thing.[9]

Theodore R. Schatzki
Professor and Chair, Department of Philosophy
University of Kentucky


Augustine 1961, Confessions, trans. R.S. Pine-Coffin, London, Penguin.

Bergson, Henri 1965 [1922], Duration and Simultaneity. With Reference to Einstein’s Theory, trans. Leon Jacobson, Indianapolis, Bobbs-Merrill.

Blattner, William D. 1999, Heidegger’s Temporal Idealism, New York, Cambridge University Press.

Braudel, Ferdinand 1980, On History, trans. Sarah Matthews, Chicago, University of Chicago Press.

Brockelman, Paul 1977, “Action and Time,” Man and World, vol. 10, no. 3, pp. 317-33.

Carr, David 1986, Time, Narrative, and History, Bloomington, Indiana University Press.

____ 1991, Contribution to “Discussion: Ricoeur on Narrative,” in David Wood (ed.), On Paul Ricoeur: Narrative and Interpretation, London, Routledge, pp. 160-74.

Collingwood, R.G. 1999, The Principles of History and other writings in the philosophy of history, Oxford, Oxford University Press.

Deleuze, Gilles and Felix Guattari 1984 [1980], Thousand Plateaus, trans. Brian Massumi, Minneapolis, University of Minnesota Press.

Giddens, Anthony 1979, Central Problems in Social Theory, Berkeley, University of California Press.

Hall, John R. 1980, “The Time of History and the History of Times,” History and Theory, vol. 19, no. 2, pp. 113-31.

Heidegger, Martin 1962 (1927), Being and Time, trans. John Macquarrie and Edward Robinson, Oxford, Blackwell.

____ 1982 [1975], The Basic Problems of Phenomenology, trans. Albert Hofstadter, Bloomington, Indiana University Press.

Husserl, Edmund 1964 [1905], Phenomenology of Internal Time-Consciousness, Indianapolis, IN, Indiana University Press.

McTaggart, J. Ellis 1908, “The Unreality of Time,” Mind, New Series, no. 68, October, pp. 457-74.

Plotinus 1969, “Time and Eternity,” Enneads 3.7, trans. Stephen MacKenna, 4th and revised ed., New York, Pantheon.

Rheinberger, H-J. 1997, Toward a History of Epistemic Things: Synthesizing Proteins in the Test Tube, Stanford, Stanford University Press.

Ricoeur, Paul 1988 [1985], Time and Narrative, trans. Kathleen Blamey and David Pellauer, vol. 3, 3 vols., Chicago, University of Chicago Press.

____ 1991, Contribution to “Discussion: Ricoeur on Narrative,” in David Wood (ed.), On Paul Ricoeur: Narrative and Interpretation, London, Routledge, pp. 179-87.

Schatzki, Theodore 2002, The Site of the Social: A Philosophical Exploration of the Constitution of Social Life and Change, University Park, Pennsylvania State University Press.

____ 2003, “Nature and Technology in History,” History and Theory, Theme Issue on Environment and History, vol. 42, no.4, pp. 82-93.

____ forthcoming, “The Temporality of Teleology: Against the Narrativity of Action,” in The New Yearbook for Phenomenology and Phenomenological Philosophy V, Burt Hopkins and Steven Crowell (eds.).

____ under review, “The Time of Activity.”

Schutz, Alfred 1962 [1945], “On Multiple Realities,” in Maurice Natanson (ed.), The Problem of Social Reality, Collected Papers 1, the Hague, Martinus Nijhoff, pp. 207-259.

____ 1967 [1932], The Phenomenology of the Social World, trans. George Walsh and Frederick Lehnert, Evanston, Northwestern University Press.

Sherover, Charles M. 2003 [1989], “The Concept of Time in Western Thought,” in Gregory R. Johnson (ed.), Are We in Time? And Other Essays on Time and Temporality, Evanston, Northwestern University Press, pp. 3-21.

[1]. In calling past, present, and future “dimensions” of time I mean simply that they are the structural components of time. Dimension has nothing (at least immediately) to do with axis, as in “three-dimensional” space. I cannot think of an acceptable alternative that avoids this possible misunderstanding.

[2]. McTaggart also claimed that a nontemporal C series—an order of events—is as fundamental to time as the A series is, but this detail is irrelevant in the present context.

[3]. Note that I am not saying that Braudel argued that there are three kinds of objective time. I am simply pointing out that each of these three famous levels of time is a type of objective time.

[4]. The activities of entities other than humans qualify as such a site to the extent that these entities, too, go back to… coming toward…in their activities. It is beyond the compass of this essay to examine how true this is of select nonhumans.

[5]. Then, whens and formerly, whens have another important characteristic: they are relative to the current now. Any then is a not yet now, and any formerly is a no longer now. (This characteristic does not transform world time nows, thens, and formerlies into ordinary time phenomena because they, unlike ordinary time nows, still possess content, i.e., are dated by reference to activity and situation.) On this point my interpretation of Heidegger diverges strongly from Blattner’s. Blattner writes (1999, 174ff.) that then, whens and formerly, whens contain nows; that is, “not yet now” and “no longer now” denote nows that are not yet or no longer. I, by contrast, understand these phrases to denote statuses: being not yet or no longer relative to now. On my interpretation as opposed to Blattner’s (ibid., 162), it is not essential to the now that it be part of a sequence of nows. As Blattner notes, however, there are few textual passages to go on in this context. Indeed, the texts are not consistent. In Basic Problems of Phenomenology (e.g., 271) Heidegger sometimes implied that world time is a sequence of nows, whereas in Being and Time (473-4) he described time as a sequence of nows as the ordinary interpretation of world time. In both texts, however, Heidegger wrote that the ordinary understanding of time as a sequence of nows is an understanding of a vorhandene phenomenon (1962, 475; 1982, 272). World time, by contrast, partakes of Dasein’s kind of being. Hence, the issue between Blattner and myself is whether there is a nonvorhandene type of now sequence, to an instance of which every world time now belongs.

[6]. When both the motive and the end or purpose are articulated in thens, the indefiniteness of t3 makes it indeterminate whether a succession is involved.

[7]. The conceptual framework behind the following account of historical time has been elaborated in other works, references to which are scattered in the text.

[8]. John Hall (1980) has suggested differentiating social formations from one another on the basis of, among other things, the type of Husserlian lived time they encompass. The idea easily transfers to existential temporality.

[9]. I would like to thank two anonymous reviewers for extensive critical and constructive comments that led to significant revisions of this essay