SOPhiA 2013

Salzburgiense Concilium Omnibus Philosophis Analyticis

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Programm - Vortrag

Augustine's Question and The Case of Sounds
(Metaphysik & Ontologie, Englisch)

In this talk, I will relate certain issues in the ontology of time with certain issues in the ontology of sound. My general aim is to examine how different conceptions of the nature of time's passage fare in the light of the phenomenon of sound.

There are different answers to the question ''What is time?'', depending on how the question is intended to be taken. On one interpretation, it demands some information concerning the status of temporal metrics, but the most intriguing interpretation in the vicinity surely is an Augustinian request for the nature of time's passage (cf. Saint Augustine, Confessions; XI.17). But even on this restriction, there are vastly different accounts to be found in the literature. Adherents of psychologism argue, in some way or other, that passage is nothing but a figment of the mind. For example, if someone reasons psychologistic about passage, she may tell you that all talk of time passing is constructed from spatial metaphors, and that the corresponding impression is literally produced by certain neurophysiological mechanisms. A venerable tradition, by contrast, defends the view that time's passage is an altogether mind-independent, albeit brute and inexplicable feature of the world. Thus passagists maintain that time would pass even if no one was there to recognize, but at the same time hold that this phenomenon is too basic to allow for further elucidation. But there are further options available in logical space, most notably the view that passage is neither subjective, nor fundamental. In this vein, neo-Aristotelians suggest that passage is ontologically dependent upon changes to enduring individuals.

The competing views fare well in certain respects, but less so in certain others. In the context of fundamental physics, for example, psychologism may seem unrivalled because of active and passive transformation rules, or the explanatory success of substantivalist conceptions of mechanics. A further instructive test case, to be run in this talk, is the phenomenon of sound (another one may be the case of music). In order to examine these theories' explanatory capacity vis-a-vis sounds, I also need to address certain issues in the ontology of sound. For according to some, sounds are identical to waves in a medium, while others hold that sounds are secondary qualities akin to colours and tastes (cf. Pasnau (1999), and the symposium in Zimmerman (2010)). And still others challenge both of these fairly standard views for holding that there is something distinctively temporal about sound (cf. O'Callaghan (2007)). In the course of this talk I shall examine, which combinations between theories of time and theories of sound are possible, and which of these are plausible.

Chair: Laurenz Hudetz
Zeit: 11:45-12:15, 14. September 2013 (Samstag)
Ort: HS 101

Thorben Petersen
(Department of Philosophy, University of Bremen, Deutschland)

Thorben Petersen is research assistant at the chair of theoretical philosophy at the University of Bremen.

Testability and Meaning deco