Bishop Asser’s biography of King Alfred describes him as creating a candle “clock” to know the time on cloudy days and at night. This candle “clock” has often been seen as an early example of uniform timekeeping and equinoctial hours, and consequently in conflict with the seasonally variable canonical hours. The approach taken here challenges this interpretation. It views King Alfred’s candles as complementary to rather than in conflict with sidereal timekeeping, clepsydrae, cockcrow, and canonical hours. This leads to an interpretation of the candles as a means of interweaving of liturgical and secular timekeeping. It is argued, moreover, that pluralism in ways of reckoning time is a feature of Anglo-Saxon time consciousness; Alfred should not be viewed as an horological innovator, but as a monarch whose interests in time reflect those of his society.
Abraham Ibn Ezra is one of the most many-sided medieval intellectuals, widely admired for his unique combination of scientific ideas with religious feeling, philosophical thought and poetical perception. This paper focuses on selected issues from his oeuvre that are of interest to time researchers.
In modern English, the term “time” has a fairly broad spectrum of meanings, which can refer to a long list of distinct temporalities in medieval Hebrew texts. Unfortunately, the sharp difference between various Hebrew words such as “et” or “zman” goes unrecognized by those who read Ibn Ezra in translation. As a result, Abraham Ibn Ezra’s temporological thought and his philosophical poetry present a real challenge to historians of time-studies. The goal of this paper is to supply fresh insights on Jewish medieval thought on temporalities and to measure its impact on recent theories and discoveries.
In his philosophy, William of Ockham (1285-1347) offered an important and detailed response to the classical argument from the truth of a statement regarding the future to the necessity (unpreventability) of the statement. In this paper, Ockham’s solution and the possible formalisation of it are discussed in terms of modern tense and modal logic. In particular, the famous branching time formalisation suggested by A. N. Prior (1914-19) is discussed. Weaknesses and problems with this suggestion are pointed out, and an alternative formalisation of Ockham’s solution without the use of branching time is presented.