Time - relentless, ever-present but intangible and the single element over which human beings have no absolute control - has long proved a puzzle. The author examines the phenomenon of time and asks such fascinating questions as how time impinges on people, to what extent our awareness of time is culturally conditioned, how societies deal with temporal problems and whether time can be considered a `resource' to be economized. More specifically, he provides a consistent and detailed analysis of theories put forward by a number of thinkers such as Durkheim, Evans-Pritchard, Lévi-Strauss, Geertz, Piaget, Husserl and Bourdieu. His discussion encompasses four main approaches in time research, namely developmental psychology, symbolic anthropology (covering the bulk of post-Durkheimian social anthropology) `economic' theories of time in social geography and, finally, phenomenological theories. The author concludes by presenting his own model of social/cognitive time, in the light of these critical discussions of the literature.
Table of Contents
Contents: Part I Differences in the Cognition of Time attributed to Society and Culture - Durkheim, Evans-Pritchard, Lévi-Strauss, Leach, Time-Reversal in Umeda ritual, Cultural Relationism, Transcendental Temporal-Cultural Relativism, Bali: the `Motionless' Present, Anti-Durkheimian Anti-Relativism, Contrasted Regimes, Psychological Evidence for the Universality of Time Cognition, Piagetian Developmental Psychology, Critique of the Piagetian Approach to Time-Cognition, Linguistic Arguments for the Cognitive Universality of Time, The Development of Time-Talk. Part II Time-maps and Cognition - Time in Philosophy: the A-series vs. the B-series, The B-series, The A-series, B-theory economics versus A-theory Economics, Chrono-geography, The Economics of Temporal Opportunity Costs, Opportunity Costs and the Fatefulness of Human Existence, Husserl's Model of Internal Time-Consciousness, The Temporal-Perceptual Cycle, The Modalization and Counterfactuality of Time-Maps. Part III Time and Practice - The Natural Attitude and the Theory of Practice, The Theory of Practice and the Timing of Exchanges, A-series: B-series :: gemeinschaft : gesellschaft :: Them : Us, Calendars and Consensual co-ordination, Calendars and Power
Alfred Gell formerly taught at the London School of Economics