Marcus Willaschek, Dr. phil.
Professor of Philosophy
Goethe-Universität Frankfurt am Main
Born in 1962 in Arnsberg, Germany
Studied Philosophy, Biology, Psychology, and Law at the University of Münster
Time, Subjectivity, and DeathSubjectivity and time have both been central topics of philosophical reflexion since antiquity. Moreover, both are currently the focus of intensive scientific and philosophical research. However, there is little work on the interrelations between them. This project explores the hypothesis that time and subjectivity might be interdependent phenomena. More specifically, it pursues the idea that while subjective experience is necessarily related to the temporal present (or “now-indexical”), the distinction between past, present, and future (sometimes called the “passage of time”) is essentially subjective (or “I-indexical”) in that it depends on a first-person perspective. To say that the passage of time is subjective, however, is to deny neither that we all share the same present nor that the passage of time is a real phenomenon. Rather, the aim is to argue from the reality of subjective experience to the “inter-subjective” reality of the passage of time. Thus, the project aims to show that the phenomena expressed by “I”- and “now”-thoughts are interdependent parts of a whole – the conscious life of a person – that has the structural property of “I-now-indexicality.”
If this hypothesis could be substantiated, it would have far-reaching consequences for the philosophies of mind and of time. Moreover, this hypothesis stands in the context of a larger project about the value of life and the badness of death, which emphasizes the I-now-indexical character of human life and of the values that structure it. Thus, the project is meant to contribute to our understanding of what it is to lead a human life and how to cope with its finitude.
Willaschek, Marcus. Der mentale Zugang zur Welt: Realismus, Skeptizismus und Intentionalität. Frankfurt/Main: Klostermann, 2003.
—.Kant on the Sources of Metaphysics: The Dialectic of Pure Reason. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2018.
—. “Death and Existential Value: In Defence of Epicurus.” Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 106, no. 2 (2023): 475–492.