The Nachlass of A.N. Prior
a joint project between
Department of Information Studies - University of Copenhagen
and
Department of Communication and Psychology - Aalborg University

"A wants me to relativise my tenses to dates. It seems to me ..."

By Arthur N. Prior on NA/NA/NA

This text has been transcribed and edited by Peter Øhrstrøm, Aalborg University, [removed] and David Jakobsen, Aalborg University, [removed] HW 1p

Download the PDF of this item
Please note that this text is extracted from the PDF, and is as such most likely not styled properly.
A w
ant
s me to relativize my tenses to dates
. It seems to me
…
1

By A.N. Prior

A wants me to relativise my tenses to dates. It seems to me that behind this request there is a
metaphysics. Behind this requ
est there is the idea that the whole of time is already
there

with all
these dates, and all events and processes just
are
, located in various parts of this great fixe
d frame. I
do not believe this
-



I think this is to treat all time as if it were already

past. I don't believe this. I don't believe that
events and processes
are
; rather events
happen

(and then come to
have happened
) and processes
go

on

(and then come to
have gone on
), and even this is an abstraction
-

the basic reality is
things
acting
. But

even in this flux there is a pattern, and this pattern I try to trace with my tense
-
logic; and
it is because this pattern exists that men have been able to construct their seemingly timeless frame
of dates. Dates, like classes, are a wonderful and tremend
ously useful invention, but they
are

an
invention; the reality is things acting. Perhaps you could call my logic a mixture of Frege and
Kolakowski.
-

I want to join the formal rigorism of the one with the vitalism of the other. Perhaps
you regard this as a

bastard mixture
-

a mé
s
alliance.
-

I

think it is a higher synthesis. And I think it
important that people who care for rigorism and formalism should not leave the basic flux and flow
of things in the hands of existentialists and Bergsonians and others who
2

love darkness rather than
light, but we should enter this realm of life and time, not to destroy it, but to master it with our
techniques.


That is just a postscript to last nights lecture.

(
1)

Pp


NMNPp
3

(
2
)
├






,


├

NM




NM


(
3
)

p


NMNFp

(
4)

KNpNFp


PNFp

KNpNFp



PNFp



NMNPNFp

├

p


NPNFp



NMp

NMNPNFp


NMp




1

Edited by Peter Øhrstrøm and David Jakobsen
. The text is kept at the Bodleian Library in Oxf
ord, Box 6. It consists of
a single sheet without a
title and is undated. According to Collin Harris at the Bodleian Library, the paper is not likely
to

be British. It may be American. I
n that case it could have been
written under one

of Prior
’s stys i
n America in 1962
as a visiting professor at
the university of Chicago, or between September 1965 to January
1966

when he wa
s the
visiting Flint professor at the University of California.

2

Editor's comment: The phrase "love darkness rather than light" is inserted in the text and written in the margin. The
following is crossed out: live in darkness.

3

Editors comment: After this text Prior has written the followin
g proof, which seems to be a version of his
reconstruction of

the

Diodorean Master Argument.


  www.priorstudies.org •  University of Copenhagen •  Aalborg University • 

18-12-2018 13:52:04 (GMT+1)