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Events, Instants and Temporal Reference

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Chapter Summary

According to the chapter, in physics, where it has been standard practice to represent time as a structure isomorphic with the real numbers, it is accustomed to thinking of times as either durationless instants or else collections of such instants. The concept of a durationless temporal instant is a quite sophisticated one, the eventual response, after many centuries of experimentation, to Zeno's puzzle. It contains at least two distinct mathematical ideas. The first of these concerns the possibility of densely ordered structures, between any two elements of which there is a third; the second the possibility that a collection of elements each of which has zero size by itself, may nonetheless have a size bigger than zero. It concludes that the rules for the construction of discourse representations have at least as good a claim to being constitutive of meaning as the clauses which make up the definition of truth.

Keywords:mathematical ideas; temporal instant; time; zeno's puzzle



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