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216 × 138 × 14 mm
152 pages
4 illustrations
13 Apr 2020

What Is Time? An Enquiry Truls Wyller
Translated by Kerri Pierce

We refer to time constantly and we measure its passing – but do we know what it actually is? In What Is Time?, Truls Wyller enquires into time’s complex nature, juxtaposing the latest scientific theories with our personal experience of chronology. The book examines the notion of time in physics, history, religion, anthropology, philosophy and literature, and Wyller concludes by proposing his own theory of time: that the temporal character of any series of events is essentially practical, and derived from human life.

Written from a philosophical perspective, the book gives an accessible, rounded portrait of the nature of time, and is essential reading for those who wish to gain a deeper understanding of the motion of our everyday existence.

‘Wyller wades back into the thicket with What Is Time? . . . The question remains a conundrum to the unaided intellect and too big for any one discipline to monopolize it. Wyller, a professor emeritus of philosophy and religious studies at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology in Trondheim, naturally gives a tip of the hat to Augustine, though the majority of his references are to scientists, philosophers, and the occasional literary figure from the last two or three centuries. Wyller offers a popular exposition rather than his own solution, but the ideas presented cluster and overlap, forming layers, and the author's role is to point out where they might be converging. He takes as his point of departure the distinction between human, subjective or experiential time, on the one hand, and physical, objective or experience-neutral time, on the other. They may or may not have anything to do with one another. (Therein lies the enigma.) And the categories are so broad that a range of ideas have taken shape in the effort to comprehend each of them. . . . A graceful overview.’ — Inside Higher Ed

‘With this erudite yet very accessible book, Truls Wyller tackles the most central question in the study of time: How do we reconcile the time of physics with time as we experience it? His answer – drawing on history, philosophy, science, and literature – is that time is constituted by consciousness itself. Delightful, synoptic, and laudably interdisciplinary.’ — Adrian Bardon, Professor of Philosophy at Wake Forest University and author of A Brief History of the Philosophy of Time

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Truls Wyller is Professor Emeritus at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Trondheim. He is the author of many books, including Objectivity and Self-consciousness (2000) and The Size of Things: An Essay on Space and Time (2010).

Introduction: Which Time?

1 The Clock and its Past: On Traditional and Modern Time Conceptions
2 Physics Time: Einstein
3 Philosophy’s Time: Bergson, Husserl, Heidegger
4 Recurrence Time in Life, Religion, History and Literature
5 Is There Any Time out There?
6 The Human Now

Further Reading