Instantaneous Consciousness of Time: Reconsidering Dainton’s Model of the Specious Present in the Context of Husserl’s and Broad’s Models

Shores C. M.

Felsefe ve Sosyal Bilimler Dergisi, vol.30, pp.57-78, 2020 (Peer-Reviewed Journal)

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 30
  • Publication Date: 2020
  • Journal Name: Felsefe ve Sosyal Bilimler Dergisi
  • Journal Indexes: Other Indexes
  • Page Numbers: pp.57-78
  • Middle East Technical University Affiliated: Yes


In his book The Stream of Consciousness, Barry Dainton proposes his “overlap model” to explain the phenomenon of continuous time without succumbing to the problems of previous models, such as the ones by Edmund Husserl and C.D. Broad. Dainton rejects models with instantaneous phenomenal presents, because he favors ones with a durationally extensive “specious present.” Yet, his portrayal of present perceptual awareness as spanning an extent of time could become problematic if we try to square it with a view of the physical world’s present temporality as being composed of moment-by-moment instantaneous variations that we might be detecting in our perceptual experience. So, in accordance with Dainton’s aim of providing realist models of phenomenal time, I will make use of the concept of instantaneous velocity that is used in physics, along with the notion of sensory memory from perception studies, to provide a model of the specious present in which the present moment of consciousness involves a direct awareness of instantaneous change.