What is the connection between time and illusion? There are two possibilities examined here, both explored in the material of this blog.
- There are illusions of time. It is possible for us to be under illusions of certain temporal properties, relations and characteristics.
- That there are certain illusions depend on what is true about time.
‘1’ is the most common of the two in the discussion about time and illusion. This concerns the possible illusory status of certain durations, the flexibility and plasticity of time-perception, and the assessment of the empirical evidence for mistaken judgements of change and time. The issues include whether or not a certain phenomenon should be understood as an illusion of time, rather than something else. Examples of ‘something else’ would be (a) other kinds of illusions, so that this phenomenon is not a temporal illusion but an illusion of something non-temporal, and (b) some other mental phenomenon which, although temporal, is not an illusion, e.g., it is, in fact, a veridical temporal experience or, although it is something false about time, it is some other kind of mistaken judgement about time which one would not call an illusion.
Questions about ‘1’ are important for various reasons. One very important reason, in my view, is that the conclusions we draw about these issues affect how we justify any assumption or judgement that there are, or are not, illusions of time. If all the advanced evidence for temporal illusions fails either to be one or both temporal or illusory, then our reason for holding that there are temporal illusions is not justified by evidence (and needs something else, e.g., a theory of perception which allows there to be such illusions).
But ‘2’, although comparatively neglected, is at least as important. In recent philosophy, especially since changes in physics and metaphysics, various concepts of time have developed which make very different claims about what is real about time. These different claims entail different claims about what is real in general. As such, they alter the relationship between appearances and reality. In so doing, they alter the case for calling a certain appearance a mere appearance, i.e., an illusion.
The purpose of this blog is to present work related to the issues of time and illusion. There are two main sections:
1. Work-in-progress: this is of the main reason for this site. The research here comes from thinking around my current project on ‘Time and Illusion’, a project funded by a Postdoctoral research fellowship from the Irish Research Council of the Humanities and social sciences (http://www.irchss.ie), held in the philosophy department at University College, Cork. I discuss issues I have pulled out of the literature, and other issues I have found as I work on this project. Although alot of this is intended for later peer-reviewed publication, what I present here is an embryonic stage. So, please do not cite it without contacting me first. My attitude to this work in progress is: I am happy to say that I am thinking some of these things at the moment. However, I do not expect that I should continue thinking all of these things.
2. Bibliography: records of article and books, and links to relevant sites and topics about these two issues. The literature and commentary on time and illusion is vast, so there is no attempt to be exhaustive about each of these subjects on their own. Instead, selections are made from each subject which I have found are particularly relevant to the other subject. This is still a loose selection. This is because there is not too much literature which focuses on the relationship between the two. As such, although some of these selections are directly concerned with the relationship, others are only loosely connected; I include them because I found them useful in my thinking about the relevant issues. I provide notes on this, to make their relevance clear.