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Title: Time in the treatise : the epistemology and metaphysics of a 'manner of appearance'
Author: Wright, Jennifer Holly
ISNI:       0000 0004 5990 9825
Awarding Body: King's College London
Current Institution: King's College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2016
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My aim in this work is to provide a comprehensive analysis of Hume’s theory of time as it is set out in the Treatise. Mirroring Hume’s own division into two parts, this will involve a careful look at both the epistemology of time he presents, that is, the idea of time and how this idea is formed, and the metaphysics, such as it is, of time itself. I look at two sets of motivating problems, for the metaphysics and the epistemology respectively: as regards the epistemology of time, I focus on the charge that Hume’s account is circular, that he cannot explain the acquisition and formation of the concept of time without presupposing the very idea he seeks to explain. This concern cuts to the heart of traditional empiricist theories and for many highlights a fundamental inadequacy. The second set of problems relate to the temporal structure of the world that emerges from his denial of the infinite divisibility of space and time. Specifically, whether the simple, durationless moments which act as the fundamental constituents of time are capable of playing the role Hume requires of them. I propose a unified response to both sets of challenges, and defend Hume’s claim that the two parts of his system are “intimately connected” (T.; SBN 39). I argue that to gain a fully satisfying interpretation and understanding of either part we must look to, and be informed by, the other. What emerges is a complex theory of mind and a cautious but powerful metaphysics guided and informed by his epistemology. His theory of time remains grounded in empiricism, but of a form that is more resilient in the face of historic charges of inadequacy.
Supervisor: Reid, Jasper William ; Callanan, John Joseph Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available