Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Using Time in Aristotle to Compare Kant and Heidegger: Part II

(This is the second part of a series of comparative philosophy: here is part I.)
While in Aristotle time is seen as an indeterminate magnitude bounded by ideal points, Kant's exposition begins only with respect to time's magnitude.  
In Kant, time is described as an infinite given magnitude.  (Kant sharply distinguishes between infinite and indefinite: infinite is without limits, while indefinite is with undetermined limits.)  Kant provides a thought experiment that can help us gauge what he means.  If we try to imagine another time, we may succeed in imagining other objects in a past or future, but our own experience of time (of sequence and simultaneity) remains unchanged.  We cannot imagine this other time (imagination itself is only possible in the sequence and simultaneity of our experience).
Kant also calls time a form (namely, the pure form of inner sense).  We can use time's character as infinite magnitude to understand this term 'form'.
There is a paradox in an infinite magnitude: a magnitude, one would think, is the kind of thing that must have a size.  However, something infinite has no size in principle.  This sounds like a contradiction, but is rather the key to understanding 'form'.  Rather than being a magnitude, time makes any determination of magnitude possible by being the 'field' of such determinations, and so the time, as a pure form of intuition, is the possibility of time determinations (limitations).  Aristotle's understanding of the beginnings and ends that limit a time is possible on the basis of a more basic understanding of the magnitude between the points as limited from a field of possible limitations - the form of time.
While we still have kept a relation to Aristotle's sense of time, Kant's account still points to something different.  The indeterminate magnitude between the beginning and end of a change is now seen as a limitation on a more primordial time.  The limitation by way of the beginning and end is described by Kant, particularly through the pure concepts of the understanding (categories).  These should be connected with Aristotle's considerations of time.
In Aristotle time was experienced in change and had a structure of something with a beginning middle (indeterminate duration) and end.  In Kant, changes are experienced in time, where time is an infinite magnitude that allows for limitation through conceiving of times.  In discussing Aristotle we found that the measurement of the magnitude of time seemed impossible without regular motions.  Here we still find this to be the case, but can also see how the capacity for limitation already produces a second notion of time that can be pluralized (unlike time as a form, which is only singular).  This time is apparently the time of Aristotle, as it shares the characteristics of being demarcated with a beginning and end (in Kant, cause and effect).  This, in effect, leaves us with three notions of time: time as form, as bounded indeterminate magnitude, and as the measure of a regular motions discoverable within world events (clock time).
By introducing the form of time (as the form of inner sense), Kant shows the character of time in Aristotle as a product of the understanding.  We now have time as form of intuition, and as concept (and even measure).  In Kant, the intuition and understanding are never discovered apart, but are always synthesized a priori as experience.  This means that there is an original belonging together of these two halves that is seen in the original experience and allows these two halves to be parsed out.  Kant characterizes this original togetherness roughly in the schematism, where the pure concepts of the understanding are to be taken as transcendental expressions of time.  Generally speaking, Kant does not see any way of illustrating the original unity of the intuition and understanding.  While it may be possible to produce an account of this out of looking at later writings from Kant, I won't get pulled into those concerns here.
The pure concepts ultimately provide for the sort of object of experience that we can judge about. This object of empirical understanding is the primary orientation point Kant has phenomenologically, and from this standpoint the connection of time and concepts is murky - and with good reason.  In part III I will consider Heidegger's understanding of time as temporality.  From Heidegger's entry way into phenomena we can get another shot at understanding what was murky in Kant, and provide another mode for understanding time.  We will ultimately relate this back to Aristotle's model of time.

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