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Time Perception

Event Order

Home | William James's Idea on Time Perception

How do we percieve events in order?

Another thing we must realize is how we recall events in the order that they happened. For example how do we know that instance x is later than instance y? Think of a clock. We first perceive the hour hand in one position, say pointing to 3 o'clock, and later we perceive it in a different position, pointing to half-past 3. So I have two perceptions, one later than the other. I may also be aware of the temporal relationship of the two positions of the hand. Nevertheless, I do not perceive that relationship, in that I do not see the hand moving. In contrast, I do see the second hand move from one position to another: I see the successive positions as successive.

It is my thought is that I perceive x precede y by virtue of the fact that my perception of x causally affects my perception of y. In other words, everything I have done in my life effects all succeeding events. That means if I were to go to a grocery store and purchase a box of cereal that action would be affecting my life for the rest of my life. Every action I take will be affected by that one instance so therefor by making the sub-psycological connection between the two actions, buying the cereal and whatever the other action may be, I will have the perception of x coming before y.