[lit-ideas] The Philosophy of Time

  • From: "" <dmarc-noreply@xxxxxxxxxxxxx> (Redacted sender "Jlsperanza@xxxxxxx" for DMARC)
  • To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Mon, 13 Apr 2015 06:06:38 -0400

In a message dated 4/13/2015 2:26:09 A.M. Eastern Daylight Time,
donalmcevoyuk@xxxxxxxxxxx says he is "[w]orking on a conceptual analysis of how
the buses are running so as to make it an interesting topic for
philosophical speculation."

This is quite a task. Just restricting ourselves to Oxford Bus Company,
they state that it takes 100 minutes to take you to London.

The first axiom is:

"If it takes 100 minutes to take you, by the Oxford Bus Company, from
Oxford to London, it takes 100 minutes to take you, by the Oxford Bus Company,
from London to Oxford."

This is truth-functional, and analytic a priori.

Another analytic axiom is

"If the bus departs on time from the Gloucester Green Coach Station bay 5,
and arrives on time you to Buckingham Palace Road, Stop 7, expect that the
bus departs on time from Buckingham Palace Road, stop 7, and arrives on
time at the Gloucester Green Coach station bay 5."

The so-called 'first' bus leaves on time at 4:30 a. m. It is considered to
'run late' if it leaves at any time t2 > t1.

The expression 'running early' is seldom use, but it's certainly NOT a
logical contradiction. "Buses are running early, of late! Yesterday, I was at
the Gloucester Green Coach station by 4:28 a.m., and the bus had already

The frequency is every half an hour, hence the adage, if not axiom:

"If you miss a bus, you can always take the next one, in 30 minutes."

Linguistic botany provides the clue that in some idiolects, 'lose' is used
for 'miss'.

"If you lose the bus, you can always catch the next one in half an hour."

Strictly, you don't lose a bus; the bus loses you.

The bus-schedule is not what Wittgenstein would call 'mathematical': note
the sequence and try to find the 'rule' underlying it:



Note that there is a period of 30 minutes for the second, third, fourth,
fifth and sixth buses. But the seventh bus leaves only 20 minutes, not 30
minutes, after the previous one (assuming they leave on time). This 20 minutes
sequence is maintained for the eighth and ninth bus.

And after that, to complicate things, it's after _15_ minutes, not twenty
(not thirty) until 11 am. The schedule returns to every _20_ minutes after
11 am, until 5 pm, which is back to every 20 minutes.

This obviously resolves into a problem-solving approach for anyone trying
to catch the bus 'on time'.

Mellor, in his book on "Time" makes the fine distinction: the
on-time/in-time distinction. "Some things are on time; some things are in

When Hawkings read that (both taught at Cambridge), he remarked, "Mellor
forgets that some things are OUT of time."

Coaches leaving Oxford at 11:30 pm, 12 am and 12:30 am do NOT drop-off
before Thornhill park & ride, which may have a consequence on the conceptual
analysis being undertaken.

"[w]orking on a conceptual analysis of how late the buses are running so as
to make it an interesting topic for philosophical speculation."

Transportation in general is a topic not just for the philosophy of time,
but ethics. If a bus (I always use the singular, since generalising, even
substitutionally, over ALL buses, is dangerous -- recall Duchamp, "All
generalisations are hateful, including this one.") runs _late_, it may be
running _too late_, and you may decide to take the taxi. Or you may decide (via

practical reasoning) NOT to take a taxi. The practical reasoning depends
crucially on any excuse you may be required "on request" as they analytically
put it: "The bus was running late" is perhaps not informative enough.

The above quoted passage suggests that the keyword is "HOW LATE": an
analysis of _how late_. This is the topic of pleonetetic implicatures.
Pleonetetic is a branch of logic conceived by Geach, and developed in Cambridge
Altham. Vide, Altham, "Late for what?". His quote is from the Rabbit in
"Alice in Wonderland".

There was nothing so very remarkable about the rabbit, nor did Alice think
it so very much out of the way to hear the rabbit say to itself (but
implicating to Alice):

i. Oh dear! Oh dear! I shall be too late.

When Alice thought about the rabbit's implicature over afterwards it
occurred to her that she ought to have wondered at this, but at the time it
seemed quite natural. She should have applied pleonetetic logic and realise
that 'too' is usually rude.

When, _later_, the rabbit came trotting along in a great hurry, he made his
earlier implicature explicit:

ii. Oh! the Duchess, the Duchess! Oh! won't she be savage if I've kept her

In Geach's expansion, the first 'how late' -- and 'too late' gets to mean
'too late' that is, 'not early enough for the Duchess NOT to be savage. The
problem is that if you are too early (so our conceptual analysis should
include a proviso for 'how early' stuff can happen) she can ALSO get savage.

This is where the in-time/on-time distinction introduced by Mellor in his
ontology of time comes handy.



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