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La notion de temps

Nature volume 142, page 595 (01 October 1938) | Download Citation



THERE is nothing very new in this little essay by the Director of the Paris Observatory ; but it is a lucidly written contribution to that subject which is now almost universally known as the philosophy of science. M. Esclangon introduces his discussion by a consideration of metaphysical time, which he decides can be reduced to a sensation that is individual in every one of us, and owes its existence to a kind of biological clock to which we refer our sensory perceptions. The extension of this idea to a Being who, although infinite and therefore beyond our powers of conception, yet dominates the universe and is equipped with a form of consciousness akin to our own, has given birth to the illusion of a real and absolutely independent time. This illusion has only been dispelled-with considerable difficulty -from human minds by the concept of relativity. M. Esclangon concludes that, apart from the various 'times' defined by a series of conventions which are the creation of science and form the subject of discussion of the rest of the book, there is only this subjective, individual time, of which the true nature must for ever remain mysterious and impenetrable.

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