What is Time? What does it mean to be on Time? Why is time so important? Many of such questions are given to the reader by Marsden for anyone to answer. In her book, “The Philosophy of Time” Dora Marsden, the once active suffragist, feminist and individualist wrote this book in the context of contemplating all of her life while living under the Crichton Royal Hospital. Her moods swing from optimism to pessimism, which makes her question the life she once lived in her youth and the life she is living now. It’s interesting that she behaves like that because I’m starting to feel the same way too. Pessimism and Optimism are constantly rattling in mind, whether it’s from the political activists today or the Religious Traditionalists I’ve seen online. Likewise, there’s Time that always on the mind, and Marsden focuses on that throughout the whole book. She starts off by looking into the nature of Time and how it functions. Marsden then pontificates on Time’s internal contradiction.
”…the Paradox of times being endless, yet finite: the dogma of a beginning to eternal Time, the belief that measure is an inherent aspect of Time, all these doctrines retain a foothold because they formed integral aspects of the Old-Time Philosophy” (pg.15)
This is still true to this day, many people still see time as an endless step, yet people are supposed to achieve a certain goal before they die, a bucket list of some sorts. There have also been many times where I have encountered people who are obsessively compulsive on what time an activity has to be started. Instead of this just being a special occasion, its every day of their lives and that’s because its all they really have to keep themselves busy. It just shows you that the person in question holds a lot of regrets from their past, never to move on with their life, but to constantly create time schedules to reinforce the notion that they are in charge. Marsden then starts showing quotes from men on their opinions as to what Time is and is not. From Aristotle to Kant, she attempts to decipher what they mean and analyzes how close they were to be accurate.
“What then is Time? That difficulty has been felt in defining Time is apparent from the foregoing passages, and this difficulty has led many moderns, irritated by the long and seemingly futile discussion, to think that the knot can be cut by a rough and ready handling of the subject. ‘Ask a philosopher what Time is and he answers you in a long speech. (The physicist) takes out his watch and says “here it is.” (pg.25)
You can tell she is frustrated by all the answers because no one is really interested in the concept of Time itself. It’s like some forbidden word that cannot be said seriously, otherwise thinking about will make the modern man confused as to his place in the world. Marsden would later search for Time as either being in Motion or in Numbers. Numbers is Marsden’s preference as to what Time really is due to the fact you can’t really measure notion without coming to a thousand conclusions at once due to the experience of each individual in question. Later on in the book, Marsden talks about the meaning behind rates, she gets frustrated with people who have misinterpreted and misused such word because it has nothing to do with Time whatsoever, instead, Rate is a balancing act that weighs two objects in order to see which has more and/ or less.
I would recommend this book to anyone who is interested in rare books, the concept of time and Marsden aficionados, this book offers a short but rather interesting plea to research the depths of the meaning of time. It’s not a book that concludes absolutely what Time is, that’s just not how Marsden operates, but rather lets the reader decide for themselves if they want to understand Time and what it means for them. It is a much more helpful technique than forcing people to read something they aren’t bothered to care in the first case.
Philosophy of Time by Dora Marsden is part of the Stand Alone (2016) journal.