Sydney, 22-23 July 2006
This conference, organised jointly with the Centre for Consciousness
at ANU, will explore some of the many connections between time and
consciousness. Some themes will include:
This workshop will be preceded by a conference on The Origins and Functions of Causal Thinking III (more details here). The sessions on Friday 21 July will provide an overlap between the two meetings.
William James characterised the specious present as 'the short
duration of which we are immediately and incessantly sensible'.
The doctrine that our conscious awareness is not instantaneous,
but rather spans a short interval, is rooted in phenomenology. We
can directly perceive change and persistence – e.g., a bird swooping, a
tone droning – or so it seems; since change and persistence take time,
how we could directly apprehend them unless our consciousness also
extends through time? However, the doctrine of the specious
present strikes some philosophers as highly problematic, even
paradoxical. If these philosophers are right, it is hard to see
how our consciousness can be as it seems. Hence the importance of
this topic. The fact that there are very different conceptions of
the specious present – not to mention a lack of consensus concerning
how the term itself should be employed – complicates matters
considerably. I will survey the main options and try to impose
some order on the situation. I will go on to argue that one
conception of the specious present is considerably less problematic
than the alternatives; this conception is largely, but not completely,
Jamesian in character. I will conclude by considering some
implications of accepting the specious present in this form for our
understanding of time itself.
and Experiences of Temporal Properties
Among the many ways in which, it seems, we can be conscious of
time, there is the sensory perception of certain temporal properties.
Many of perceptual experiences seem capable of representing properties
such as (i) the succession of events and (ii) their duration.
and Temporal Phenomenology
In the general project of trying to reconcile the objective view of the world with the subjective view, analytic philosophy in recent years, has been almost solely focused on sensory phenomenology. But there is at least as a big a gap between the view of time presented in physics and the view of time presented in the experience of the subject. In physics, there is an almost complete assimilation of time to space. Time is just one dimension in a four-dimensional manifold of events. We experience time, however, as something dynamic. I'll be exploring prospects for understanding of the phenomenology of flow without falling into the incoherent idea that time itself moves.
Philosophical conceptions of time seem to fall into two
groups, “flow” (river, arrow) and “block”: both of them spatialised.
Kant was an important exception, and modern subjectivist thinking about
time, or about the consciousness of time, seems to have taken its
lead from him. But art (poetry, anyway: music and the plastic arts
raise different time issues) seems always to have represented time as
consciousness, or at least as an important element in it. Two groups
again: “big-time”, apocalyptic poets like Dante and Virgil, and
“small-time”, ordinary-life poets like Homer and Shakespeare. Modern
(post-Kantian?) poetry wants to find big-time meanings in small-time
lives. Maybe if we could blend philosophy’s block/flow conceptions and
poetry’s big/small representations of time we might get a richer
sense of the relation between time and consciousness.
Subjectivity of the Present
Dimensionality of Time
and Temporal Awareness
Memories have content in that they can be correct or
incorrect. In addition, memories have an interesting phenomenological
feature: If a subject remembers some event, then that event is
presented to her as taking place in the past. The aim of this paper is
to determine how we should construe the content of memories to account
for that ‘feeling of pastness’ in memory. Three proposals will be
considered and eventually rejected. According to some of those
proposals, a reference to the temporal location of a remembered event
is built into the content of the relevant memory. I will propose an
alternative view. According to it, when a certain event is presented to
us in virtue of having a memory experience, the content of that
experience is that it was caused by a true perceptual experience of the
event in question.
The conference will be held at historic Tusculum mansion, 3 Manning St, Potts Point. (Manning St can be seen in the centre of this map. Tusculum is the square-shaped property just south of the double-n in "Manning".)
Full-fee registration is $50, or $70 for both this meeting and Origins III: INtervention, Time and Physics, provided you register by Thursday 13 July 2006. An additional late registration fee of $10 applies to all registrations received after that date. Student/unwaged registration is $20 (which covers both meetings) or $30 for late registrations. Registration includes morning and afternoon refreshments.
To register, simply download this form and follow the instructions.
(Speakers at either meeting get free registration at both.)
A limited number of rooms at the Macleay Apartments have been reserved for conference attendees and are available at the special conference rate of $125 per night. These are within (very) easy walking distance of the conference. (Please contact John Cusbert at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to make a booking.)
There is also plenty of other accommodation in Potts Point and
Kings Cross, within walking distance of the conference. Listed below
are some options. For those on a very tight budget, there are also
numerous backpacker's hostels on Victoria Street.
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The best way to get around downtown Sydney is on foot or via public transport. The conference venue and the accommodation listed on this site are all within a 5-10 minute walk from Kings Cross railway station.
From the Airport
You can catch a train from the Airport to Kings Cross station, though you will need to change trains at Central station. The train fare from the Airport is $10. A taxi from the Airport to Potts Point costs about $28. There are also regular shuttle buses from the airport to accomodation in Potts Point. "Kingsford Smith Airport Bus Service" runs one such service, which costs around $8 per person and departs from outside the arrival hall every half hour. There is no need to make a booking.
Streetside parking is very limited in this area. Listed below are some commercial parking lots within 5-10 minutes walk from the conference venue. Parking charges are around $13 per day.
Kings Cross Car Park Pty Ltd
Please direct all enquiries to John Cusbert at the following