Philosophy 290-4

Fall 2020

Number Title Instructor Days/time Room
290-4 Graduate Seminar: Time and Causation in Psychology Campbell/Martin Tu 2-4 Moses 234

“A Klee painting named Angelus Novus shows an angel looking as though he is about to move away from something he is fixedly contemplating. His face is turned toward the past. Where we perceive a chain of events, he sees one catastrophe, which keeps piling wreckage upon wreckage hurling it before his feet. A storm is blowing from Paradise; it has got caught in his wings with such violence the angel can no longer close them. This storm irresistibly propels him into the future to which his back is turned, while the pile of debris before him grows skyward.” (Walter Benjamin)

Time and Causation in Psychology

JJ Campbell

MGF Martin

Tuesdays 2 - 4pm

Convened on Zoom

Graduate Seminar 290 - 4

Arthur Prior noticed that there’s a tensed asymmetry in our preferences. Suppose you have a root canal due. If you wake up and realize it’s coming today, you’ll feel dread. If you wake up and realize you had it yesterday, you’ll be relieved and say, ‘Thank goodness that’s over!’. The difference here really seems to have to do with past and future. Such temporal asymmetries can appear puzzling and irrational. Some writers have been tempted to read off from them distinctive theses about the nature of time; others have supposed that they reveal simply certain psychological facts about us, and that evolution has condemned us to be irrational in some of our temporal preferences. This seminar starts off from these temporal asymmetries and explores the role of time and causation in psychology.