Tallis in Wonderland
Did Time Begin With A Bang?
Raymond Tallis doesn’t know, at present.
I am half way through writing Of Time and Lamentation, an attempt to rescue our thinking about time (and a good deal of metaphysics) from the domination of physics. I justify this shameless self-promotion by presenting it as a warning: you must expect your columnist, over the next year or so, occasionally to share with you some of his puzzles about the nature of time. The one that is preoccupying me at present is the question of whether time does or does not have a beginning. It’s an issue that has wandered through Western thought on the border between philosophy and theology for millennia, and no end seems to be in sight.
Some of you will be familiar with Kant’s cunning argument in The Critique of Pure Reason (1781), in which he demonstrates to his own satisfaction that time cannot be something in the world out there, a property of things in themselves: on the contrary, he says, time belongs to the perceiving subject.