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Egocentric representations are essentially subject-centered, like the spatial 'here' and 'there', whereas objective representations are not, like the spatial 'next to x' and 'four miles from x'.


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In the cognitive science literature, 'objective' is usually called 'allocentric' or 'exocentric'. Le Poidevin describes Piaget's famous experiments wherein young children have trouble with thinking non-egocentrically with spatial relations among objects. Turning to time, he asks, are there counterparts of egocentric and objective representations? It seems there are: 'now', 'past' and so on are egocentric and 'before ', 'simultaneous with', etc. However, how you understand these representations will hang on your temporal metaphysics. Presentists and other tensed theorists believe the egocentric categories latch onto the world, whereas detensers or 'block' theorists believe the 'objective' ones do.

For tensers, there is an asymmetry between time and space here.

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The egocentric category of 'now' refers to the metaphysically distinguished present, but the egocentric 'here' does not. Le Poidevin manages to resist the urge, in light of Piaget's experiment, to brand tensers as "childish" with respect to time. Keen to make room for the tenseless theory of time, Le Poidevin provides a tenseless semantics for temporal egocentric expressions and rebuts an argument that a tenseless language is impossible.

However, still worried by the tensed assault, he ends the chapter claiming, "what needs to be shown is that there is a role for such a [tenseless] language" The next chapter on memory is supposed to do so.

Book review: the images of time: an essay on temporal representation

I wondered, however, why the existence of physics, especially relativistic physics, didn't merit mentioning, for surely it shows that there is a role for tenseless language. Chapter 4 makes a surprising argument: that the existence of episodic memory favors the tenseless theory of time.

Hanging on the CTMP and other principles the author likes principles , the argument defies description in a short space. But the intuition behind it is roughly as follows.


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Memory, when it counts as knowledge, inherits what makes it knowledge from something else, say, perception. My knowledge of having seen Lisa yesterday is only knowledge because the memory is connected to my really seeing Lisa yesterday. If I just had the memory, but no actual experience, it wouldn't be knowledge. Tension with tense theories arise, however, because according to the tenser the fact of seeing Lisa is changing; it is now, when I have the memory, no longer the same fact.

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The memory and the experience are not both of the same event: the experience is of a present event, the memory of a past event. As a result, the tenser then runs afoul of the CTMP, a few new principles, plus Le Poidevin's definition of episodic memory, for the remembered event is not, strictly speaking, in the causal chain of both the memory and the experience.

Le Poidevin sketches various presentist retorts, adjusts his conclusion slightly, but still claims that the tenseless theory "sits much more comfortably with our intuitive view of the epistemology of memory" 75 than does the tensed view. I suspect most presentists could live with this. What were the odds on our intuitive view of the epistemology of memory being correct anyway?

Note that the claim is not actually that episodic memory favors the block view. How could it be? Presentist and block theories are at the very least empirically equivalent hypotheses -- indeed, many fear they are even metaphysically equivalent.


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The claim is not even that episodic memory as scientists use the terminology needs to be reformed under a presentist interpretation, for Le Poidevin's episodic memory isn't the same as theirs. The author has instead built various epistemological conditions into the definition of episodic memory p. Le Poidevin brings together issues in philosophy, psychology, aesthetics, and literary theory in examining the mechanisms underlying our representation of time in various media, and brings these to bear on metaphysical debates over the real nature of time.

These debates concern which aspects of time are genuinely part of time's intrinsic nature, and which, in some sense, are mind-dependent. Arguably, the most important debate concerns time's passage: does time pass in reality, or is the division of events into past, present, and future simply a reflection of our temporal perspective - a result of the interaction between a 'static' world and minds capable of representing it?

Le Poidevin argues that, contrary to what perception and memory lead us to suppose, time does not really pass, and this surprising conclusion can be reconciled with the characteristic features of temporalexperience. Would you also like to submit a review for this item?

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