This is to say that the consciousness of the present is not itself describable in terms of an atomic present since it is a function of inference. The present involves the felt impulse of immediacy, but the idea of the present itself is a construct of inferential processes...
...Since time in general is continuity but a continuity of some thing, and is therefore a continuous relating of past and future, and since concepts require time, the present in effect does not exist other than as a prescinded conceptual condition for the possibility of past meeting future. Or, to put this another way, Peirce argues for the immediacy of feeling--consciousness of firstness--and since time is a relation of concepts and the present instant an immediate feeling, the present may be said to be non-existent (or simply qualitative feeling) if to be is to be cognizable. Peirce writes, “feeling is nothing but a quality, and a quality is not conscious: it is a mere possibility.” (PW, 84: CP1.310). But “qualities merge into one another. They have no perfect identities...,” and they are thus understood only as prescinded. (PW, 77).
Monday, July 06, 2009
Beautiful photographs of Tokyo by urban photographer Thomas Birke. I think he unintentionally nails a little Peircean insight about the nature of the present as non-existent, or at least my interpretation of this insight. Writing here about Peirce a couple of years ago: