Volume 82, Issue 2, Spring 2008
On a Common and Unmooted (Neo-)Platonic Source for the Husserlian and Augustinian Conceptions of Memory
A Response to Michael R. Kelly
Although Michael Kelly, in his article, “On the Mind’s Pronouncement of Time” (Proceedings of the ACPA 78 : 247–62), is correct to maintain that Augustine and Husserl share a common conception of time-consciousness, I argue that the similarity does not lie where he thinks nor is it restricted to Husserl’s early period. Instead I locate the source of this commonality in a shared response to a particular Platonic problematic, which I find expressed at Parmenides 151e–152e. This essay shows how the Neoplatonic conception of time, which I claim inspired Augustine, emerged from that problematic and how Husserl, in a thought experiment
from 1901, wrestles with a similar problematic before adopting a model of time-consciousness roughly analogous to that of Augustine. It is suggested that Kelly is misled by his Aristotelian approach, which causes him to regard the Augustinian and Husserlian models of memory as “trapped” in the present. The point is a significant one if, as I conclude, there is no escaping the conception of time as absolute flow, once we abandon the Platonic view of time as a completed
succession of nows, eternally fixed.