Time-Consciousness and the Present

Wilson, Keith A. (2008). 'Time-Consciousness and the Present'. M.Litt. Dissertation, St Andrews and Stirling Graduate Programme (SASP).


Examines the interaction between the metaphysics and consciousness of temporal phenomena, including duration, succession and temporal passage. Several different models of time-consciousness are considered, including Husserl's phenomenology of internal time-consciousness, Dainton’s ‘overlap model’ and Varela and van Gelder’s dynamical systems based account.

I argue that Dainton’s overlap model fails on several counts, including considerations relating to Dennett's multiple drafts model of consciousness. Varela’s dynamical systems model, on the other hand, is fully compatible with the existence of multiple drafts of conscious experience, and is able to make sense of various otherwise puzzling aspects of Husserl’s account.

Although all of these models turn out to compatible with both presentism and eternalism, the latter offers a more convincing account of the phenomenon of temporal passage, and its relation to consciousness in general, without the need to posit the existence of past and future times, making it the more ontologically parsimonious theory.