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Time in Music and Culture

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Ludwik Bielawski

From Aristotle to Heidegger, philosophers distinguished two orders of time, before, after and past, present, future, presenting them in a wide range of interpretations. It was only around the turn of the 1970s that two theories of time which deliberately went beyond that tradition, enhancing our notional apparatus, were produced independently of one another. The nature philosopher Julius T. Fraser, founder of the interdisciplinary International Society for the Study of Time, distinguished temporal levels in the evolution of the Cosmos and the structure of the human mind: atemporality, prototemporality, eotemporality, biotemporality and nootemporality. The author of the book distinguishes two ‘dimensions’ in time: the dimension of the sequence of time (syntagmatic) and the dimension of the sizes of duration or frequency (systemic). On the systemic scale, the author distinguishes, in human ways of existing and acting, a visual zone, zone of the psychological present, zone of works and performances, zone of the natural and cultural environment, zone of individual and social life and zone of history, myth and tradition. In this book, the author provides a synthesis of these theories.

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10 Levels of time and levels of existence

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10.1 Levels of knowledge

As already mentioned, Julius T. Fraser distinguishes five levels of temporality, based on five levels of nature:

(1) the level of particles with zero rest mass (photons) – this is dealt with by the special theory of relativity, (2) the level of particles with non-zero rest mass, being the object of quantum mechanics, (3) the level of aggregates of matter, constituting the domain of the general theory of relativity, (4) the level of organisms, which is addressed by biology and physiology, (5) the level of the senses, which is the object of learning about the mind, knowledge, culture and society. Each of those levels of nature forms its own environment (Umwelt), sustaining a separate temporality (Example 10.1).

Corresponding to the five levels of nature are five temporal levels: (1) atemporality, which contains only simultaneity, (2) prototemporality, which contains also order (partial or complete), (3) eotemporality, where duration (size) comes in, (4) biotemporality, which adds to the foregoing also ‘now’ and timing, (5) nootemporality, which contains also (personal) history (beginnings and endings; Example 10.2).

The temporal levels form a specific hierarchy (nested hierarchy), in which each higher level, besides its own specific temporal properties, contains all the temporal properties of the lower levels. On the nootemporal level, for example, the biotemporal, eotemporal, prototemporal and atemporal levels may appear. And vice versa, lower levels, such as the atemporal, prototemporal and eotemporal levels, although referring to relevant integrational levels of...

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