Of Time and Lamentation

Reflections on Transience

Raymond Tallis

Agenda Publishing

Of Time and Lamentation

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Pub Date: August 2017

ISBN: 9781911116219

672 Pages

Format: Hardcover

List Price: $40.00

Of Time and Lamentation

Reflections on Transience

Raymond Tallis

Agenda Publishing

Time’s mysteries seem to resist comprehension and what remains, once the familiar metaphors are stripped away, can stretch even the most profound philosopher. In <i>Of Time and Lamentation</i>, Raymond Tallis rises to this challenge and explores the nature and meaning of time and how best to understand it. The culmination of some twenty years of thinking, writing, and wondering about (and within) time, it is a bold, original, and thought-provoking work. With characteristic fearlessness, Tallis seeks to reclaim time from the jaws of physics.<br><br>For most of us, time is composed of mornings, afternoons, and evenings and expressed in hurry, hope, longing, waiting, enduring, planning, joyful expectation, and grief. Thinking about it is to meditate on our own mortality. Yet, physics has little or nothing to say about this time, the time as it is lived. The story told by caesium clocks, quantum theory, and Lorentz coordinates, Tallis argues, needs to be supplemented by one of moss on rocks, tears on faces, and the long narratives of our human journey. Our temporal lives deserve a richer attention than is afforded by the equations of mathematical physics.<br><br>For anyone who has puzzled over the nature of becoming, wondered whether time is inseparable from change, whether time is punctuate or continuous, or even whether time itself is real, <i>Of Time and Lamentation</i> will provoke and entertain. Those, like Tallis himself, who seek to find a place at which the scientific and humanistic views of humanity can be reconciled, will celebrate his placing of human consciousness at the heart of time, and his showing that we are “more than cogs in the universal clock, forced to collaborate with the very progress that pushes us towards our own midnight.”
There is hardly a thinking person who has not been struck, at some stage in life, by the deep mystery of time. How is it that things come into being and then pass away? What is a moment, and what flows as the moments succeed each other? What is it to exist in time, and is time another dimension, like the three dimensions of space? Can time be recaptured, replayed, or is all time unredeemable? Does time as described by the theory of relativity square with time as experienced by you and me? All these questions and many more besides well up in the minds of thinking people as soon as they begin to reflect on the nature of time, and in this book Raymond Tallis spells them out clearly, systematically and sympathetically, so as to give the fullest examination to date, both of time as part of the fabric of reality, and of time as the condition of self-conscious experience. He does not solve the mystery, but his argument deepens it in a fascinating way. Written with scholarly rigour and lively humour, this study of the greatest source of our metaphysical anxieties will provide hours of pleasure and instruction to all who delve into it. Sir Roger Scruton, Senior Fellow, Ethics & Public Policy Center, Washington DC
There are few contemporary thinkers who possess either the breadth of Ray Tallis's knowledge or the depth of his scholarship. There are fewer still who can write so cogently and insightfully about the human condition. Kenan Malik, author of The Quest for a Moral Compass: A Global History of Ethics
'You affirm', wrote Albert Einstein to his best friend Michel Besso, that the transition from 'lived experience to objectivity is accompanied by suffering, which – if one interprets as a physicist – is tied to irreversible processes'. The physicist befuddled by the complexity of the question simply replied, 'I do not know how to help you'. Now Raymond Tallis takes on the challenge, bravely going where few have ventured, investigating the painful nature of time's passage, one intimately felt yet stubbornly denied by numerous scientists. Of Time and Lamentation is an important philosophical investigation, at the same time personal and scholarly – a bold and original experiment where art and poetry are given as much importance as science, measurements, equations. Jimena Canales, Thomas M. Siebel Chair in the History of Science, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and author of The Physicist and the Philosopher: Einstein, Bergson and the Debate that Changed Our Understanding of Time
<i>Of Time and Lamentation</i> aims at 'rescuing time from the jaws of physics'. It is a worthy goal and a persuasive argument . . . An absorbing book that will reward the patient reader with a deeper insight into the problem of time. Andrew Crumey, Wall Street Journal
[Tallis's] monumental of Of Time and Lamentation is a vigorous response to the dominant view that physics has the last word on time . . . I applaud Tallis's assault on scientism (not to be confused with an assault on science), and am glad (and relieved) to see philosophy defended by someone other than an academic philosopher. His view of the nature and purpose of philosophy is both insightful and beautifully expressed . . . [A] fine book. Robin Le Poidevin, Times Literary Supplement
[An] astonishing magnum opus, the product of decades of scrupulous, far-reaching, and detailed engagement with a huge range of interlocking disciplines, from medicine and psychology to physics, history, theology and philosophy. It asks the biggest questions, and offers big and challenging answers. Adam Roberts, The New Atlantis

About the Author

Raymond Tallis was professor of geriatric medicine at the University of Manchester and was elected a Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences for his research in clinical neuroscience. He retired from medicine in 2006 to become a full-time writer. <i>The Economist</i> lists him as one of the world's leading polymaths.