Toward a unified view of time

Erwin w. Straus' phenomenological psychopathology of temporal experience

Marcin Moskalewicz

pp. 65-80

The article covers Erwin W. Straus' (1891–1975) views on the problem of time and temporal experience in the context of psychopathology. Beside Straus' published scholarship, including his papers dealing exclusively with the subject of time, the sources utilized in this essay comprise several of Straus' unpublished manuscripts on temporality (all from the Erwin. W. Straus Archive, Simon Silverman Phenomenology Center, Duquesne University, USA), with the primary focus on the 1952 manuscript Temporal Horizons, which is discussed in greater detail and subsequently published for the first time in this journal. In the first part of the article, the author introduces what he considers to be the central tension of the whole of Straus' work on the issue of time, namely, the tension stemming from a dualistic account of time with its personal (experienced) and impersonal (clock time) dimensions. Interpretative developments of this tension are followed covering Straus' early German works and his late American scholarship. The author presents Straus' way of overcoming the dualistic account of time and his arguments in favour of what is termed here the "unified view of time". Of critical importance for the unified view is Straus' concept of "today", which is extensively commented upon. In the second part of the article, the author focuses on the psychopathological consequences of the unified view as seen by Straus. A clear-cut boundary between a normal and a psychotic experience of time is supposed to lie in breaking the bond between the personal and the impersonal orders of time, leading to a fundamental estrangement. This view, it is claimed, is already present in a nutshell in Straus' earliest work, and is elaborated upon later. In conclusion, both the merits and the weaknesses of Straus' account of temporality are presented. A major advantage is that Straus abstains from a dualistic conception of time and reappraises the often-devalued clock time. A fundamental drawback is that Straus does not venture to explore the pathological varieties of temporal experience and fails to specify the acknowledged differences between, on the one hand, psychotic elements in depressive disorders, and, on the other hand, such elements in schizophrenic disturbances.

Publication details

DOI: 10.1007/s11097-016-9494-7

Full citation:

Moskalewicz, M. (2018). Toward a unified view of time: Erwin w. Straus' phenomenological psychopathology of temporal experience. Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences 17 (1), pp. 65-80.

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