Non quid sed quando valet

John A. Michon

Selected Writings 

Time and Timing

Introductory text forthcoming

  • Two architects of time (2004) [PDF 420kB] vlag GB
    Indubitably two of the brightest intellects ever to teach at Leiden University were Josephus Scaliger (1540-1609) and Hendrik Lorentz (1853-1928), the first a universal mind in the realm of history and philology, the second a brilliant theoretical physicist, forerunner and sparring partner of Albert Einstein. What connects these two masterminds are their ground-breaking (but not quite successful) attempts at answering the age-old question "What is time?"

  • The modularity of time (1998) [PDF 152kB] vlag GB
    Descriptive text forthcoming

  • Concerning the time sense: The seven pillars of time psychology (1993) [PDF 131kB] vlag GB
    Descriptive text forthcoming.

  • Implicit and explicit representations of time (1990)  [PDF 160kB] vlag_GB
    In this article, originally published in a well-received volume under the title Cognitive models in psychological time, edited by Richard A. Block (1990), I have argued that the rich variety of phenomena that characterize the human experience of time is grounded in the biological necessity to stay tuned with a dynamic, unfolding outside world.

  • Guyau's idea of time (1988) [PDF 230kB] vlag GB
    One of the most elegant expositions of the psychology of time from a cognitive point of view is La genèse de l'idée de temps (1888) by the French philosopher Jean-Marie Guyau. It antedates William James' celebrated chapter on time peception, Henri Bergson's work on time and memory, and it anticipates a variety of ideas that would later be found in Marcel Proust's A la recherce du temps perdu and Pierre Janet's magnum opus on memory and the idea of time. This chapter appeared in the commemorative French-English twin edition of Guyau's essay, published in 1988 by the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences.

  • J. T. Fraser's Levels of Temporality as cognitive representations (1986) [PDF 350kB] vlag GB
    An interpretive proposition, made and examined in the natural philosophy of time as conceived by J. T. Fraser, the founder of the International Society for the Study of Time, is called the principle of hiërarchical temporal levels. It maintains that each stable integrative level of the universe manifests a distinct temporality and that these temporalities coexist in a hierarchically nested, dynamic unity. This paper argues that the hierarchy of temporalities of the principle of temporal levels may be treated as cognitive representations that derive from a fundamental set of subjective interpretations of reality, known in cognitive psychology as worldviews or basic metaphors.

  • The compleat time experiencer (1985) [PDF 438kB]  vlag GB
    This article appeared as Chapter 2 in Time, Mind and Behavior edited by J. A. Michon and J. L. J. Jackson (Berlin: Springer, 1985). It is a review of the (then) present state of thought and insight about psychological time. It first traces the specific aspects that distinguish psychological time from physical time and biological time. Then it discusses the various sources that may be tapped to find out what processes are underlying the temporal experience of humans. There are several such sources, intentionalistic, functionalistic and structuralistic. The analysis of time in narrative provides an example of the intentionalistic approach. It differs in a rather fundamental way from psychonomic analysis which tends to have strong functionalistic overtones. The present state of the art in psychological research is considered from points of view that draw upon the various approaches to time-as-information and as such it constitutes a search for conditions to be met when we are to construct The Compleat Time Experiencer.
    [Author's note: the spelling compleat is the intended one!]

  • The making of the present: A tutorial review (1976) [PDF 201kB]  vlag GB
    The present, or Now, is a highly flexible tuning process that is dynamically adapting to the temporal dimension of the attentional field and to the sequential structure of the patterns of events therein. Thus, it serves an important function by enabling an organism to optimize (or satisfice) its information processing. As such it is an active, constructive process; this necessitates the assumption that temporal information can be extracted from event sequences and is structurally independent of the nontemporal dimensions of perceptual (e.g., spatial or categorical) input. This paper was first presented as a 'tutorial review' at the Attention and Performance VII conference, Senanque, France, 1977.

  • Timing in temporal tracking (1967) [PDF 702kB]  vlag GB
    This is a brief summary of Timing in Temporal Tracking, my Ph. D. Dissertation (Leiden, 1967), published by Van Gorcum, Assen (NL). It derived from my attempts to develop a method for comparing the relative difficulty, also known as the mental load of (cognitive) tasks in industrial and military contexts. The underlying idea was that performance on a secondary task -- finger tapping at a regular rate -- will deteriorate when it is executed in parallel with other tasks. The production and synchronization tapping sequences was described by means of methods borrowed from linear systems analysis.