1 Aristotle, Augustine, and the Aporia of Time. A Socio-historically Informed Analysis Of the Uncomfortable Cohabitation between Ancient Thinkers and Modern Categories. By Jonathan Martineau, PhD Abstract: Against interpretations that posit Aristotle and Augustine as the founders of the two poles of the aporia of time that allegedly runs through the Western tradition, this article suggests that the aporia of time is a product of modern social time regimes and proposes a reading of Aristotle and Augustine's conceptions of time in context. As such, Aristotle's 'objective' conception of time is found to rather unify humans and their world through symbolic mediation, while Augustine's 'subjective' conception of time is read rather as a subordination of time to God. Introduction In his influential study of temporality and narrative, Paul Ricoeur posited Aristotle and Augustine as the founders of the two main conceptions of time that run through the Western tradition.1While Aristotle’s Physicsgave the West its concept of objective or worldly time, Augustine’s Confessionsinaugurated a subjective or experiential concept of time, and the Western philosophy of time navigates between these two broad positions. On the one hand, time is conceived as a worldly phenomenon, as an objective datum of the world of things and nature, a fundamental category of reality itself. On the other hand, time is a product of the mind, either as a generic category of the human psyche, a ‘distension of the soul’, or the fundamental structure of human consciousness, imprinting its own temporal categories or flux-like character on worldly processes and thereby tensing an a-1Paul Ricoeur, Temps et récit III(Paris : Seuil, 1985), 19-178.
2 temporal world. Ricoeur reads these two positions as formative of a theoretical dead end, what he calls the ‘aporia of temporality’.2While these two broad conceptions have indeed structured numerous moderndebates occurring in various fields, from contemporary philosophy3to theoretical physics,4this paper challenges the interpretation of classical conceptions of time through this aporetic lens. The argument developed here posits the aporia of time as a historically situated product of the modern temporal experience, and therefore superimposed on non-modern contributions to the topic of time only at the expense of historical understanding. Ricoeur and the aporia. First, the main structure of Ricoeur’s treatment of the questionmust be briefly rehearsed. There are indeed, for him, two entry points into the question of time; movement (nature, universe, world) and soul (mind, consciousness).5Ricoeur then derives the fundamental aporia of time from the fact that cosmological and psychological theories of time obscureand implyeach other at the same time.
You've reached the end of your free preview.
Want to read all 29 pages?