When I started to study philosophy at the ELTE University in Budapest my first social/intellectual action was to compile a list of classical, modern and contemporary writings about the philosophy of time and then look for other undergrads being interested to seminarise these works. Think about Aristotle’s Physics IV. 10-14, St. Augustine’s Book XI of the Confessions and … the wonderful essay collection on The Philosophy of Time edited by Poidevin/McBeath. Eventually I think it was too nerdy an offering even amongst philosophy students but I stuck with studying these writings a lot. To me studying the philosophy of time was a huge part of my personal motivation as after studying aging in the years before as a biology student I realised I have a problem understanding what is this ‘time thing’ with respect to biological aging is defined, what are we measuring here …
Philosophy of time and analysis of temporality by conceptual means is a great field and Elisabeth F. Cohen, Associate Professor of Political Science at Syracuse University, managed to open a new chapter within this field by writing The Political Value of Time, that was published this very year by Cambridge University Press and I was lucky enough to see it amongst the new offerins at the CUP Bookshop.
I studied this book repeatedly this year, here’s a photo on my annotated copy.
Cohen’s analytical starting point is the tendency to ignore durational time in politics by the social sciences. Hence, most of the study is focusing on the temporal aspects of establishing sovereignty, mostly assumed hidden behind spatial boundaries and then how temporalities like schedules, waiting periods, deadlines are constitutive in the procedures of modern democracies. The main, deliberate subset of examples (‘temporal formulae’) are the age of maturity delimiting children from full citizenship, the probationary period needed for the naturalisation of non-citizens and prison sentences. Continue reading “How Open Lifespan changes the political value of time; reading Elizabeth F. Cohen”