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The privileged present: from phenomenology to metaphysics

English title The privileged present: from phenomenology to metaphysics
Applicant Merlo Giovanni
Number 186148
Funding scheme Ambizione
Research institution Département de Philosophie Université de Genève
Institution of higher education University of Geneva - GE
Main discipline Philosophy
Start/End 01.01.2020 - 31.12.2023
Approved amount 586'616.00
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Keywords (5)

metaphysics of time; argument from experience; A-theory vs. B-theory of time; passage of time; experience of time

Lay Summary (Italian)

Lead
La nostra esperienza quotidiana del tempo ce lo descrive come qualcosa di fondamentalmente ‘dinamico’ - qualcosa che, a differenza dello spazio, ‘passa’ o ‘scorre’ incessantemente. Ma in che misura questo aspetto ‘dinamico’ della nostra esperienza del tempo può essere considerato veritiero? Il progetto 'The Privileged Present: from phenomenology to metaphysics' si propone di affrontare questa questione nell'ambito del dibattito analitico-filosofico contemporaneo tra teorie A e teorie B del tempo.
Lay summary
Soggetto ed obiettivo

Uno dei temi più controversi e dibattuti del dibattito analitico-filosofico contemporaneo è quello del passaggio del tempo. Secondo la cosiddetta ‘teoria A’, tempo e spazio sono fondamentalmente diversi l’uno dall’altro, in quanto il primo, a differenza del secondo, ‘passa’ o ‘scorre’ incessantemente. Secondo la cosiddetta ‘teoria B’, invece, il passaggio del tempo non è un fenomeno reale e le differenze tra tempo e spazio sono meno profonde di quanto si possa pensare. La nostra esperienza quotidiana della realtà sembrerebbe dare ragione alla teoria A. Tuttavia, i teorici B ritengono che l’esperienza ci tragga in inganno, presentandoci come ‘dinamico’ o ‘passeggero’ qualcosa che è invece del tutto ‘statico’. Il progetto 'The Privileged Present: from Phenomenology to Metaphysics' si propone di esaminare in che misura sia plausibile concepire il passaggio del tempo in questi termini, ossia come un fenomeno illusorio. Uno degli assunti centrali del progetto è che la nozione di illusione sia soggetta a precisi limiti di applicabilità – in particolare, che non sia possibile applicare questa nozione a quegli aspetti della nostra esperienza (in primis, i cosiddetti ‘caratteri fenomenali’) per i quali la distinzione tra apparenza e realtà non sembra avere senso.


Contesto socio-scientifico

Nell’esaminare il rapporto tra la natura oggettiva del tempo e la nostra esperienza soggettiva di esso, questo progetto contribuirà a mappare un territorio ancora inesplorato e ad aprire nuove prospettive di ricerca all’intersezione di metafisica, epistemologia e filosofia della mente
Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 18.12.2019

Responsible applicant and co-applicants

Employees

Publications

Publication
Self-knowledge and the Paradox of Belief Revision
Merlo Giovanni (2021), Self-knowledge and the Paradox of Belief Revision, in Review of Philosophy and Psychology, 1-19.
The metaphysical problem of other minds
Giovanni Merlo, The metaphysical problem of other minds, in Pacific Philosophical Quarterly.

Collaboration

Group / person Country
Types of collaboration
Centre for Philosophy of Time Italy (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results

Scientific events

Active participation

Title Type of contribution Title of article or contribution Date Place Persons involved
Fragmentalism and rival approaches Talk given at a conference Fragmentalism we can believe in 21.06.2021 Leiden (online), Netherlands Merlo Giovanni;
USI Master in Philosophy Individual talk Perception and the metaphysics of time 08.03.2021 Lugano (online), Switzerland Merlo Giovanni;
3rd Venice-Lugano Workshop in Analytic Philosophy Talk given at a conference Could consciousness be just an illusion? 06.02.2021 Venice, Italy Merlo Giovanni;
Quodlibeta talk Individual talk Perception and the metaphysics of time 11.11.2020 Geneva (online), Switzerland Merlo Giovanni;
eidos seminar Individual talk Cross-temporal grounding 22.10.2020 Geneva, Switzerland Merlo Giovanni;
USI Master in Philosophy Individual talk Can the A-theory capture the passage of time? 29.04.2020 Lugano (online), Switzerland Merlo Giovanni;
eidos seminar Individual talk Russellian monism and two varieties of grounding 12.03.2020 Geneva, Switzerland Merlo Giovanni;
CEU Philosophy Seminar Individual talk Dialectic of illusionism 18.02.2020 Budapest, Hungary Merlo Giovanni;


Communication with the public

Communication Title Media Place Year
Media relations: print media, online media Che cosa sono i fatti perspettivali? philosophie.ch Italian-speaking Switzerland International 2021

Abstract

The nature of time has been an object of philosophical and scientific reflection for countless thinkers throughout history - from Heraclitus to Heidegger, passing through Galileo, Leibniz, Kant and Bergson. Part of the fascination of this topic has to do with the particular character of our experience of time. Time appears to us to 'pass' or 'flow', to display a kind of 'dynamicity' for which there is no equivalent in our experience of space. And since this aspect of our experience of time is pervasive and ineliminable, it is tempting to think that it may reveal something important about the metaphysics of time - that is to say, about how time is, in and of itself. The issue continues to be a hotly debated one in contemporary analytic philosophy. Traditionally, temporal phenomenology has been taken to support metaphysical views that treat the passage of time as a real phenomenon (aka 'A-theories' of time). However, recent discussions in this area have shown that the task of formulating a precise and plausible version of an ‘argument from experience’ in favour of the A-theory is far from trivial. Philosophers disagree on how, exactly, temporal phenomenology should be described. Moreover, advocates of metaphysical views according to which the passage of time is not real (aka 'B-theories' of time) have expressed scepticism that any version of the argument could succeed. For even if we experience time as passing, it seems that this feature of experience could in principle be explained away as illusory. The overarching thesis guiding this project is that the argument from experience can be plausibly defended in the face of these challenges. Crucial to vindicating this thesis will be the idea there are a priori limits to the applicability of the notion of an illusion: we cannot apply this notion to phenomenological judgments concerning the character of our own experiences because, when it comes to such judgments, we cannot sensibly distinguish appearance and reality in the way we are used to do in the case of ordinary perceptual judgments. By bringing this important epistemological principle to bear on the debate surrounding the argument from experience, this project will break new ground in a largely still uncharted territory and open up new avenues for investigation at the intersection of metaphysics, epistemology and the philosophy of mind.
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