Volume 13 · Number 1 · Pages 91–97
The Past, Present and Future of Time-Consciousness: From Husserl to Varela and Beyond

Shaun Gallagher

Download the full text in
PDF (847 kB)

> Citation > Similar > References > Add Comment


Context: In developing an enactivist phenomenology the analysis of time-consciousness needs to be pushed toward a fully enactivist account. Problem: Varela proposed a neurophenomenology of time-consciousness. I attempt to push this analysis towards a more complete enactivist phenomenology of time-consciousness. Method: I review Varela’s account of time-consciousness, which brings Husserl’s phenomenological analysis of the intrinsic temporal structure of experience into contact with contemporary neuroscience and dynamical systems theory, and pushes it towards a more enactivist conception of consciousness. I argue that Varela’s analysis motivates a closer examination of the phenomenological aspects of the intrinsic temporal structure of experience, understanding it in terms of an action-oriented embodied phenomenology in its most basic manifestation. Results: This fully enactivist phenomenology of time-consciousness continues the analysis initiated by Varela and remains consistent with but also goes beyond Husserl’s later writings on time-consciousness. Implications: This analysis shows that the enactive character of intentionality in general, goes all the way down; it is embedded in the micro-structure of time-consciousness, and this has implications for understanding perception and action. Constructivist content: This account is consistent with Varela’s constructivist approach to cognition.

Key words: Time-consciousness, enactivism, Husserl, Varela.


Gallagher S. (2017) The past, present and future of time-consciousness: From husserl to varela and beyond. Constructivist Foundations 13(1): 91–97. http://constructivist.info/13/1/091

Export article citation data: Plain Text · BibTex · EndNote · Reference Manager (RIS)

Similar articles

Werner K. (2017) Coordination Produces Cognitive Niches, not just Experiences: A Semi-Formal Constructivist Ontology Based on von Foerster
Vörös S. & Riegler A. (2017) A Plea for not Watering Down the Unseemly: Reconsidering Francisco Varela’s Contribution to Science
Fultot M. F., Nie L. & Carello C. (2016) Perception-Action Mutuality Obviates Mental Construction
Villalobos M. & Ward D. (2016) Lived Experience and Cognitive Science Reappraising Enactivism’s Jonasian Turn
Matyja J. R. & Schiavio A. (2013) Enactive Music Cognition: Background and Research Themes


Andersen H. & Grush R. (2009) A brief history of time consciousness: Historical precursors to James and Husserl. Journal of the History of Philosophy 47(2): 277–307. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Berthoz A. (2000) The brain’s sense of movement. Harvard University Press, Cambridge MA. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Bitbol M. & Petitmengin C. (2017) Neurophenomenology and the microphenomenological interview. In: Velmans M. & Schneider S. (eds.) The Blackwell companion to consciousness. Second edition. Wiley & Sons, Chichester: 726–740. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Gallagher S. & Varela F. J. (2003) Redrawing the map and resetting the time: Phenomenology and the cognitive sciences. Canadian Journal of Philosophy. Supplementary Volume 29: 93–132. http://cepa.info/3740
Gallagher S. & Zahavi D. (2014) Primal impression and enactive perception. In: Lloyd D. & Arstila V. (eds.) Subjective time: The philosophy, psychology, and neuroscience of temporality. MIT Press, Cambridge MA: 83–99. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Gallagher S. (1979) Suggestions towards a revision of Husserl’s phenomenology of time-consciousness. Man and World 12: 445–464. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Gallagher S. (1997) Mutual enlightenment: Recent phenomenology in cognitive science. Journal of Consciousness Studies 4(3): 195–214. http://cepa.info/2276
Gallagher S. (1998) The inordinance of time. Northwestern University Press, Evanston. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Gallagher S. (2000) Philosophical conceptions of the self: Implications for cognitive science. Trends in Cognitive Sciences 4(1): 14–21. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Gallagher S. (2005) How the body shapes the mind. Oxford University Press, Oxford. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Gallagher S. (2011) Time in action. In: Callender C. (ed.) The Oxford handbook on time. Oxford University Press, Oxford: 419–437. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Gallagher S. (2012) Time, emotion and depression. Emotion Review 4(2): 127–32. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Gallagher S. (2016) Timing is not everything: The intrinsic temporality of action. In: Roman Altshuler (ed.) Time and the philosophy of action. Routledge, London: 203–221. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Gallagher S. (2017) Enactivist interventions: Rethinking the mind. Oxford University Press, Oxford. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Gibson J. J. (1977) The theory of affordances In: Shaw R. & Bransford J. (eds.) Perceiving, acting, and knowing: Toward an ecological psychology. Lawrence Erlbaum, Hillsdale NJ: 67–82. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Husserl E. (1962) Phänomenologische Psychologie. Husserliana 9. Martinus Nijhoff, The Hague. English translation: (1977) Phenomenological psychology: Lectures, summer semester (1925) Translated by J. Scanlon. Martinus Nijhoff, The Hague. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Husserl E. (1966) Analysen zur passiven Synthesis. Husserliana 11. Martinus Nijhoff, The Hague. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Husserl E. (1966) Zur Phänomenologie des inneren Zeitbewußtseins (1893–1917) Husserliana 10. Martinus Nijhoff, The Hague. English translation: (1991) On the phenomenology of the consciousness of internal time (1893–1917) Translated by J. Brough. Kluwer Academic, Dordrecht. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Husserl E. (1977) Phenomenological psychology. Translated by J. Scanlan. Martinus Nijhoff, The Hague. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Husserl E. (2001) Die Bernauer Manuskripte über das Zeitbewusstsein (1917–18) Husserliana 33. Kluwer Academic Publishers, Dordrecht. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
James W. (1890) The principles of psychology. 2 volumes. Henry Holt, New York. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Jeannerod M. (2009) The sense of agency and its disturbances in schizophrenia: A reappraisal. Experimental Brain Research 192(3): 527–532. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Kalupahana D. J. (1974) The Buddhist conception of time and temporality. Philosophy East and West 24(2): 181–191. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Merleau-Ponty M. (2012) The phenomenology of perception. Translated by D. A. Landes. Routledge, London. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Petitmengin C. (2006) Describing one’s subjective experience in the second person: An interview method for a science of consciousness. Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences 5: 229–269. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Petitmengin C., Van Beek M., Bitbol M., Nissou J-M. & Roepstorff A. (2017) What is it like to meditate? Methods and issues for a micro-phenomenological description of meditative experience. Journal of Consciousness Studies 24 (5–6):170–198. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Thompson E. (2007) Mind in life: Biology, phenomenology, and the sciences of mind. Harvard University Press, Cambridge MA. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Varela F. (1996) Neurophenomenology: A methodological remedy for the hard problem. Journal of Consciousness Studies 3(4): 330–50. http://cepa.info/1893
Varela F. J. (1995) Resonant cell assemblies: A new approach to cognitive functioning and neuronal synchrony. Biological Research 28: 81–95. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Varela F. J. (1999) Present time-consciousness. Journal of Consciousness Studies 6(2–3): 111–140. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Varela F. J. (1999) The specious present: A neurophenomenology of time consciousness. In: J. Petitot F. J. Varela B. Pachoud and J-M. Roy (eds.) Naturalizing Phenomenology: Issues in Contemporary Phenomenology and Cognitive Science. Stanford University Press, Stanford: 266–329. http://cepa.info/2081

Comments: 0

To stay informed about comments to this publication and post comments yourself, please log in first.