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Michel Bitbol
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preprint description
A concept of the ‘actual now’ is introduced. The ‘actual now’ is negatively characterized by the fact that it is absent from the time-series (that it is no instant of time at all). This does not mean that the ‘actual now’ is outside the time-series. For saying so would wrongly suggest the existence of an ‘outside’ (a sort of metaphysical eternity) where the ‘actual now’ could be located. Instead, one considers that the ‘actual now’ is just the name of ‘that with respect to which’ any event can be said to be past or future, yet being no event by itself. It holds the same role with respect to time as Husserl’s transcendental ego with respect to the empirical self. McTaggart’s celebrated refutation of the reality of time is reinterpreted accordingly. To express this argument, one no longer needs to use the notions of ‘change’ or ‘time flow’, but only to point out the in-principle impossibility to refer to the ‘actual now’ (for, if one now refers to ‘now’, the now which is referred to is no longer the actual now)

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