THE TIME OF THE SELF AND THE TIME OF THE OTHER

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ABSTRACT

What is time? This essay offers an attempt to think again about this oldest of philosophical questions by engaging David Hoy's recent book, The Time of Our Lives: A Critical History of Temporality, which proposes a “history of time-consciousness” in twentieth-century European philosophy. Hoy's book traces the turn-of-the-century debate between Husserl and Bergson about the different senses of time across the various configurations of hermeneutics, deconstruction, poststructuralism, and feminist theory. For him, what is at stake in such a project is to distinguish between the scientific-objective “time of the universe” and the phenomenology of human temporality, “the time of our lives.” Hoy's approach is to organize his book around the three tenses of time—past/present/future—and to view objective-scientific time as derived from the more primordial forms of temporalizing lived experience that occur in our interpretation of time. In my reading of Hoy's work, I attempt to explore how “time” (lived, experiential, phenomenological) can be read not in terms of “consciousness” (Hoy's thematic), but in terms of the self's relationship with an Other. That is, my aim is less to establish a continental tradition about time-consciousness, understood through the methods of genealogy, phenomenology, or critical theory, than it is to situate the problem of time in terms of an ethics of the Other. In simple terms, I read Hoy's project as too bound up with an egological interpretation of consciousness. By reflecting on time through the relationship to the Other rather than as a mode of the self's own “time-consciousness,” I attempt to think through the ethical consequences for understanding temporality and its connection to justice.

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