Action-thoughts and the genesis of time in linguistic semiosisAbstract
The genesis of time is explained in the spirit of constructivism combined with the activity approach to cognition. The cardinal temporal categories of present, past, and future are discussed in terms of action-thoughts understood as elementary units of activity whose structure is determined by linguistic semiosis. Husserl’s tripartite model of the phenomenology of time (prime perception, retention, protention) is applied to the analysis of the subject’s experience of his actions. It is demonstrated that, while our lived present is composed of the actually performed actions, our past and future are constructed by reflexive action-thoughts in the cognitive domain of language. It is emphasized that the construction of a temporal sequence that unites what is and what already or still is not, is possible only in linguistic semiosis. The analogy with Husserl’s tripartite structure of the time-consciousness flow helps elucidate the triad ‘present-past-future’ as an instance of the epistemological trap of language: ‘past’ and ‘future’ are mental constructs that belong to the present just as any other act of thinking.