Between Science’s Time and Art’s Eternity

Tatyana Apraksina. Lecture delivered at the 3rd Russian Congress for Cultural Research, St. Petersburg, 2010. Essay in Image and Concept in Culturology and Scholarly Ontology: collective monograph. St. Petersburg: Eidos Publishing, 2011. P. 8-23.


THESES: Time as a Perceptual Category (Toward a Special Theory of Three-Dimensional Time)


When comparing the scientific and empirical types of knowledge, it becomes obvious how artificial is their separation, as is the distinction between subject and object in contemporary scientific practice. The scientific world view, with its claims to comprehensiveness, objective accuracy and autonomy, denies the definitive significance of the psychological factor, of personal, empirical perception and of assessment of real phenomena. The world does not exist externally to human consciousness: the external may only arise as an abstraction. Any type or profile of knowledge is subjective — and therefore empirical. Seeking an artificial distinction between inner and outer realities, science forges a system of illusory views of reality based on its own internal scientific view and supported by a limited range of concepts. Thus modern science emerges as fundamentally engaged in myth-making. The scientific category of “physical time” as a fourth dimension of objective reality is among the components of science’s myth. Accordingly, also instrinsic to this myth is the axiom of the irreversability of time.


Time is a category of life perspective. Time is intended to serve as a tool of human perception, which unfolds solely within a temporal process. This lecture and essay illustrate this primarily through examples of perceiving various forms of art. The process of perception is highly individual, so time here acquires an extremely dependent, subjective character associated with changes in mental states. In the phenomenal world, changes in views of existence become visible through alternating, event-driven models or projections, which unfold and are perceived in time. This practice casts time as linear and two-dimensional. Time’s third dimension appears with the emergence of the image of eternity (the zero time of “always”), the first principle of manifest time. The traits of manifest time’s presence within actual time, within the moment of experienced present, comprise key aspects of an approach to this topic. Art is a translator of zero time. The special characteristics of art, as compared to other types of cognition, lie in its ability to convey empirical knowledge in a form intended for similarly empirical perception. Art’s universal language is meant for individual reading. Only the medium of art enables the direct transmission of personal empirical experience. Archetypally ideal art channels “zero time” to the plane of actual time. Namely this “third pillar” opens the possibility of choosing levels for realizing time’s full measure.

(English translation by James Manteith)