Time and change

Authored by: Ursula Coope

The Routledge Companion to Metaphysics

Print publication date:  April  2009
Online publication date:  April  2009

Print ISBN: 9780415396318
eBook ISBN: 9780203879306
Adobe ISBN: 9781134155866


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Aristotle’s account of time in Physics, Book 4, chapters 1014 (translated in Hussey 1993), is at once fascinating and frustratingly obscure. In it, he discusses time’s relation to the present, to change, and to the mind. The view that emerges is one on which temporal order depends on a more basic order: an order of the stages within changes. On this view, for there to be time, there must be changes. Moreover, Aristotle holds that if there is to be time, changes must be marked out, or “counted” in a certain way. Because of this, time also depends on the mind: for there to be time, there must be beings capable of counting. These are intriguing claims, but what exactly do they mean? This essay suggests one way in which we might make sense of them.

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