Medieval Scholasticism, New European Concepts of Time - Philosophy

Medieval Scholasticism

Thinkers of this period also follow the Platonic tradition, however, now they speak about the allocation of not two but three basic concepts: timeless being (Aeternitas, usually translated as "eternity"), Eternity (Aevum) and the actual time.

Timeless Being (Aeternitas) is something that is generally beyond time: such is God and the other world. The difference between timeless being is that it exists all at once, all its parts are simultaneous, whereas in real time only the present exists. The medieval notion of timeless being is the most consistent expression of the static concept of time. Aeternitas is the duration that is given to us all at once, as the simultaneous presence of a whole series of successive events. It differs little from the non-existent Democritus blink, in which, indeed, there are no relations "before" and after and, therefore, there is no becoming.

In medieval philosophy, a static model, devoid of precedence and following relationships, is considered as the definition of the "highest" kind of being. A dynamic model with its instantaneous now separating the past and the future is considered as the definition of the lower kind of being, belonging to the current time of the objective world. The connection between timeless being and time is mediated by the concept of eternity.

Eternity (Aevum) is the definition of some unchanging ideal objects (angels, celestial bodies, etc.). They exist in time, but they do not change, so for them there is no sense in defining before or later & quot ;. This is close to the ordinary understanding of eternity as an infinite duration. In its content and meaning, Eternity of medieval scholasticism is very close to the "absolute time" classical mechanics of Newton.

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New European concepts of time

From the XV century, an intensive development of experimental and mathematical natural science begins. From the point of view of the general mechanistic attitude of classical science, time was no longer seen as a fundamental characteristic of being, but rather as a computational tool that allowed the ordering of objects moving in space unchanged . For the greatest thinkers of this century (N. Copernicus, F. Bacon, I. Kepler, G. Galileo, etc.), the main question is not about what is time, but about how a temporary relationship can be measured and expressed by means of mathematics. In other words, now the focus is on non-meaningful interpretations of time, and the measurement technique and the mathematical expression of time values.

Rene Descartes introduces a distinction between time and duration. By duration, he understands the objective definition of any motion processes . Duration is an objective attribute that both material objects and psychic phenomena possess. Time, on the contrary, is devoid of objectivity and represents only the mode of thinking. Time is the subjective construction of our consciousness, designed to determine the duration. The time that we differ from the duration, says Descartes, is only a known way, how we think this duration. In other words, Descartes first begins to regard time as a special research construct. It is this interpretation of time which gradually becomes almost the general place of the theoretical thought of the New Age.

Benedict Spinoza tries to combine the new understanding with the three-part division of medieval scholasticism. Spinoza shares eternity, time and duration.

Eternity is an attribute of God; being that necessarily implies existence. This being is beyond time, it can not be before or later & quot ;, it can never be assigned a duration.

Duration is an attribute of created things, the existence of which is not necessary, but only possible. And without lasting things, duration does not exist: it is precisely their attribute or property.

Time - it is considered as being separated from the objective duration and from all real changes.

Following Descartes, Spinoza interprets time as a modus of thinking, ie. as a form of subjective experience. Time for him is a certain definite, limited, "counted" the duration used by the imagination as a reference "measures of undetermined durations".

John Locke continues the general line of Descartes - Spinoza. He, like his predecessors, views time as a condition for measuring duration, that is, in the final analysis, as an idealized research construct. Locke emphasizes that time is inseparably linked with the activity of the cognizing mind and is not something that precedes it. Time, he says, begins and ends with the structure of this sensible world.

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