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Perspectival and objective representations of space and time

Abstract : It is generally agreed that there is a distinction between two kinds of representations of space and time. Perspectival or egocentric representations are viewpoint-dependent in the sense that the way spatial and temporal positions and relations are represented is relative to one's own position in space or time. In contrast, objective representations are independent of one's position in space or time and thus viewpoint-invariant. For instance, I may represent event A as past or as more past than event B (perspectival representations of temporal position and temporal relation, respectively) or I may represent event A as occurring on September 11, 2001 and as earlier then event B (objective representations of temporal location and temporal relation, respectively). And similarly for spatial positions and relations. One contentious issue, however, is whether perspectival and objective representations are independent or whether representations of one kind are constructed, at least in part, from representations of the other kind. One further issue is whether the analogy between space and time is strong enough that the answer given to the previous question in the case of space, say, should also hold for time, or vice-versa. The notion of dependence can be understood in several ways and the dependence or independence claims can be given stronger and weaker readings. I try to disentangle these various readings and to sketch their relations. I also offer detailed characterizations of the distinction between egocentric and objective representations, first in the case of space and then in the case of time. I examine how the different versions of the dependence/independence claims fare with respect to time and to space. I argue that for two of these claims the analogy between space and time breaks down. I propose that the reasons why the analogy is disrupted have to do with certain fundamental differences in the way we egocentrically apprehend temporal and spatial properties.
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Contributor : Elisabeth Pacherie <>
Submitted on : Saturday, March 12, 2005 - 2:35:02 PM
Last modification on : Tuesday, January 12, 2021 - 3:29:33 AM
Long-term archiving on: : Thursday, September 23, 2010 - 3:58:21 PM


  • HAL Id : ijn_00000045, version 3


Elisabeth Pacherie. Perspectival and objective representations of space and time. 2005. ⟨ijn_00000045v3⟩



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