ISSN 1214-8725
Číslo/Ročník/Rok: 4/II/2005 - Autumn 2005

Movement and Time (článek)

Autor: Anna Hogenová
Abstract: Pohyb a čas. – Předneseno na konferenci IAPS (International Association for the Philosophy of Sport), která se konala ve dnech 15.–18. 9. na Univerzitě Palackého v Olomouci. – Podstata těla není měřitelná na jeho povrchu ani uvnitř, podstata pohybu se nedá změřit na pohybujícím se předmětu, podstata nemoci není ničím měřitelným v jejím projevu. Změna se děje v čase, zdá se, že to není arithmos kineseos, co může odhalit podstatu pohybu. Náš životní pohyb je jakoby tažený něčím, co nás vlastní. To je to, co nazýváme Bytím ve fenomenologické filosofii. Pohyb lidského života nemůže být chápán pouze náhodně, tak jak tomu je ve většině vědeckých reflexí. Lidská bytost je otevřena naladěním, naladěním se na situaci v určitém bodě času. Pohyb lidské bytosti nezahrnuje pouze tělo nebo mysl, ale obojí.

“In the poured gift the jug presences as jug”, [1] thus it is not what is perceivable through our senses. It is not the color of the jug, or the material, from which it is made; it is not its size in the sense of its volume, or the size in the sense of its surface. The essence of the jug is based in the “origin of the jug”, that is, “the gift of the pouring our”. This additional note has an enormous meaning for the whole area of thinking. The essence of the body is nothing measurable on the surface of the body or inside it, the essence of movement is nothing measurable on the moving object, the essence of an illness is nothing measurable on its manifestations, the essence of good is nothing pragmatically measurable on single manifestations of good in the area of senses etc. It is important to return to the things themselves (Zu den Sachen selbst!), we can hear in our ears the well-known phenomenological imperative. It is the same with time; it is not possible to understand it as something, which is measured in changes.

Why? Because a change happens in time, it seems that it is not a number of movement (arithmos kineseos) that can uncover its essence. Aristotle also described time in its continuity, he did not ask the opening question that leads to the beginning of the sense of the thing. Movement and time relate essentially to each other, but why it is so, it is again in darkness. If there is something mysterious around us, then it is time, despite all measuring instruments, of which there are so many and which have high quality and reliability. What is the origin of time?

In his Lectures to Phenomenology of Inner Time Perception [2] Husserl came very close to the “origin of time”. From here it is also very close to understanding movement, as time is “something” flowing and running. Husserl describes here the flow of cogitations (the flow of thought contents). After transcendental epoché this flow can be divided into urimpressions (experiences of original “now”), retentions (retained urimpressions) and protentions (pre-memories – Vorerinnerungen, pre-expectations). Protentions arise by so called variation of retentions, which is in fact a synthesis of covering of retentions. All this mysterious process starts with arousal of interest (Inter-esse, inside a thing). Interest launches this intentional synthesis and its result is an invariant (no more variable), which becomes a protention. This protention then projects expectations towards the future and is a part of the intention ”being-to-the-World” (zur-Welt-sein). This intention to the world is then a basis of our life movement, because it gives us direction. But it is not so simple.

Our life movement is as it were pulled by something what owns us, in relation to what we are helpless; this is what we call Being in phenomenological philosophy. Being is the original opening, into which we enter by manifesting ourselves to ourselves as well as to the others (we phenomenalize). In this original opening not only people and ourselves but above all things around us and relations between them manifest to us. And thus everything becomes manifest by entering into its appearance, to its form, to its semblance. And it is this entering into an appearance, which became the basis of phenomenology. We have been waiting for two thousands years for the question “How do things manifest?” But the depth of thought of thinkers during these two thousand years was not vain, on the contrary, it was the unavoidable and necessary condition (sine qua non) for origin of this most substantial question “How do things manifest?”

But let us return to the topic of movement and time, which is the core of this article. By being able to distinguish urimpression from retention I can perceive movement. If an urimpression stayed unchanged in retention, then I would live only in the presence, which would mean, that I would not be able to perceive time nor would I be able to perceive movement. Thus movement is based in a possibility to distinguish an urimpression from a retention. If it is not so and this is possible for example in autism, then a human being is fastened to “now” and therefore he cannot distinguish events, meanings and relations. Simply, he cannot project the world, our personal “Dasein” as well as we; such a person differs from us. Why? Because he lives in a different time, he dissects his flow of cogitations differently. Is not this a beginning of some psychiatric illnesses? What caused this change of the inner time perception? How can we understand it?

We can see that the topic of inner perception of time is absolutely unquestioned field of possibilities to understand many things, not only movement itself. It is a pity that so few thinkers is interested in this topic. Why is this topic so interesting? Because it enables us to understand movement that we want to teach somebody. In a specific individual there are many protentions originated from past movement experience, which also protend the way of accepting habitus (the whole) of the movement figure that we want to tech our student. A movement figure always immerses into protentionality that has already grown in us and it has grown into us in a way that is very hard to influenced it by our controlled rationality and will. Cartesians are convinced that we can directly teach a new movement structure without thinking about what has been fixed in the given individual, in his body in the sense of pexis. To remove what is already inherent in our body “intelligence” is very hard. We know it from the lessons of skiing and gymnastics.

Psychologists speaks about movement habits, phenomenologists speak about body pretentionality and it is possible to understand its essence from syntheses of retentions. Motoric intelligence is actually based in the ability to immerse the structure of new movement into protentionality, which is the result of our whole body experience from the past. Past comes into future as a project. Past is not a dead junk in our body memory. Retentions are not just stored in a reservoir of our body memory. It is much more difficult. In the same way we hear the whole melody of a song, even though we have a single tone in the urimpression, we carry in ourselves protentionalities that project our body movement. This is always related to what we call psychical.


It is not right to speak only about body “intelligence”, there is always an intentional interconnectedness between retentions of the body and retentions of the mind; this all happens due to intentionality, which is the bases of our habitual relation to the world as well as to ourselves. The body in question here is the body in the sense of pexis. It is not soma (the shape of the body), or only sarx (the flesh under the skin). Therefore it is not only doctors and biologists who can make decisions about the body, but also psychologists, kinanthropologists and philosophers. This is the new thing. Motoric intelligence is based by intentionality, syntheses of retentions and their protending. Husserl often says that syntheses of retentions or variation happen passively or actively. This is very important. Passive variation of retentions is not within our power or will. There happens something that was best understood by Nietzsche when he speaks about the reason of the body, which is according to him a better reason than is the reason of our mind. Passive syntheses of retentions are a domain of what is sometimes called talent etc.

No retention gets lost, it enters the process of variation with other similar retentions and the result of it is in fact a protention, when said very simply. Therefore it is necessary so that a child picks up a lot of body retentions in the time of his childhood, because all these retentions base his ability to learn a new movement by “pre-establishing, pre-choice”, by his body intentions. This is a reason why, for example, a dog that has been leashed the whole life does not have such a good abilities to perceive the surrounding world, to project the surrounding world, when unleashed.

All retentions that have entered into protentions after syntheses with others make a basis of body “intelligence”, talent, body creativity. It is also necessary to stress that these are never only retentions of the body, though we use the term. There is always an interconnection between the sense of the soul, the mind and the body pendant. Therefore we speak about intentionality that is “a mental inexistence”, which in this context means only this: retentions interconnect no matter if they are retentions of the body or the mind. It is here where unity arises, which becomes almost the only crystal of the vital will, the whole, which cannot be divided into physical and psychical wholes, and if this happens, then it is a mistake. The body as pexis can be understood as the body based in intentionality, in which all four Aristotelian causes are to be found (causa materialis, formalis, finalis, efficiens).

Human life movement cannot be understood only causally, as it is in most of the scientific reflections. A human being is not only an effect of an external cause, as for example Marxists thought, neither is it only an effect of inner forces, as some subjective idealists thought, but his life movement is a result of many cooperating sources among which we count arché (the beginning of mobility), dynamis (possibilities of choice), energeia (accomplishing of the chosen possibility), telos (purpose of movement). Arché is what we contain in our heredity, what we have got regardless of our own egoism or its choice. Dynamis is nothing else then possibilities that open in front of the human being. They are always possibilities that are pre-marked by protentions, but not only by them. Purpose (telos) also plays an important role here, as it opens the inner openness that is based in protentions. Thus the inner openness (protentionality) is also opened by purpose (telos). In this context it is necessary to realize that telos has to be comprised in the inner openness too, in protentionality. Therefore intentionality is a mental inexistence. It is important to complete this reference that has lead many times to the objection of ideal subjectivism with Heidegger’s reference to the fact that the inner opening of the human being is always opened also by Being itself. In case of temporal setting into presence we have to speak about opening through Dasein.

A human being is opened by attunement, attuning himself on the situation at a certain point of time, in now. A human being attunes himself on Being by the depth what functions inside. Being is no image, it is no concept, it is no object, therefore we often speak about “nothing” and we say that Being “noths” (Sein nichtet). This circumstance is hard to be translated from German into other languages and it is just this respect, which causes major problems when trying to understand M. Heidegger.

“If in case of movement the moved body was kept in the consciousness unchanged in each position, then the passed space would seem to us to be continually filled up, but we would not have an idea of movement. The idea of succession arises only by retaining the previous perception in the consciousness not unchanged, but is in modified a special way, from one moment to another.” [3] What causes a change of validity of the original urimpression in retention is the essence of intentionality, which we do not understand till now. The content of urimpression stays the same, only the way of conceiving of this “urimpression” changes, and thus it becomes retention. Ambiguity in perception is a difficult part of phenomenology. We reach it only after performing transcendental epoché, because only in this purified view noesis and noema are shown to us. Noesis is the way of conceiving of noema, therefore a noesis carries in itself pre-established noema.

This is a very strange part of Husserl’s philosophy, and it becomes the target of criticism of those, who mostly have not understood it. Many philosophers are convinced that philosophy is nothing else than a description of the philosophy of someone else in the way of objectivistic conceiving, that is, in strictly scientific description. In fact, such a work is not philosophy, it is only creation of a protocol about philosophy of the others through which very often the “living searching heart” of the given philosophy is completely destroyed. Husserl wants something else. He wants to penetrate into the essence of a thing. He does not describe time as a flow of changes on the things around us, but he describes the flow of time in the flow of cogitations and this is possible only after transcendental epoché, not after Cartesian epoché. And it is the flow of cogitations through which we can describe movement and that is why this reflection starts with time and leads to movement. What flows in us is initially divided into urimpressions, retentions and protentions. And it is important that this flow is not only a chain of associations, but all the above mentioned syntheses are being performed in this flow, then they protend in the form of noeses, which give us together noemas.

Yet, there is also something, what is put into this flow from outside. Heidegger calls it Being, as we could see above. Being posses us, only we do not know how, and it is this question which has puzzled philosophers from the beginning of the world. It is always a different aspect, but there is always mystery in play, and most contemporary philosophers search it in language.

Movement of a human being does not involve only the body or the mind, but both. Therefore, an athlete does not take care of the body only, but always also of the mind. If he thinks only about his muscles, then also his mind is very simple and animal. The effort to win always means to overcome the self, to transcend one’s own limits, that is, to be more. In fact, it is an effort to gain a higher stage of one’s own being. If this intention is changed into a run after so called performances, it actually means a form of selling one’s own body. In the result of movement there is always the whole intentionality, which is the yield of syntheses of retentions, regardless the body and mind. All is in one whole that projects the world and gives us the possibility to understand. Thus we have never experience a pure presence, there is always a yield from the past and even an expectation of what is going to come in the near future. Movement is life itself and the sport movement is only a part of this life movement, nothing else. Our thinking and evaluating is also movement. This is all in the unity of intentional syntheses is projected into the world around us through intentions “being-to-the-World” (zur-Welt-sein). Cartesian division into the body and mind performed its simplifying task till the end, however having destroying consequences, which have not been seen through till nowadays, even though Cartesianism is often discussed.

Urimpressions change into retentions. Interest (inter-esse) then launches syntheses of retentions either in potentionality or in activity. This intentional performance of our flow of cogitations shows us that we cannot understand human movement only mechanically. Anthropomotorics, physics and biology are not sufficient. It is time to understand human movement in relation to thinking, evaluation and voluntativity, not only in psychological, but also in philosophical form.

In connection with movement and intentionality there is another circumstance that is also important. If we perform transcendental epoché then we will find four kinds of phenomena in our flow of cogitations. It is important to distinguish them if we wish to understand movement wholly. The important thing is that the phenomenon of reel immanence is what we directly experience in our original presence. This phenomenon is the basis of the possibility of apodictic evidence, that is, the highest one of all that does not allow a possibility of an opposite. What is in our flow of cogitations contained as retentions or protentions is called phenomena reelly transcendent, because these phenomena are always in us “non-hyletically” prepared for projects of our lived world. In the area of sport we often call this talent, good or bad habit etc. In phenomenology we also find phenomena really transcendent and really immanent.

This is difficult to understand, because phenomena of real transcendence are actually all things in the world around, about which we believe that are part of so called objective reality. This demand is mostly so certain that nobody of us usually realizes it and we speak about real world and ideal world. The last part of phenomena is called really immanent and by them we mean psychological phenomena, which are treated as things of the objective reality, though they are intentional performances of immanent character in the area of our retentions. These phenomena are often used as biological entities and are explained with help of laws of biological and natural sciences, which results in reduction of human movement to physical, mechanical or biological movement, without objections. This happens because the distinction of really transcendent phenomena and really immanent phenomena in fact disappeared, it is not understood, it stays in the darkness.

Thus sport movement and movement of the body is reduced only to mechanical, physical, chemical and biological movement without any relation to social movement, that is, historical, and mental and spiritual movement. The need of falsification of the results of scientific investigations then unambiguously determines the direction of scientific research, that is, the creation of scientific questions. Already an asked question implicitly contains the need of empiricism as the only approach to human movement. Then it is not possible to explain movement that is inherent in speech, that is, the movement of transcendence and its task in the present life. A human being is then reified and because he does not know it, he cherishes his status in the everyday life. He calls it the only sense of life and becomes a mere consumer.

It is interconnected with habitus of his thinking and evaluation, that is, a human being is interested in means only, not in the ends; he is interested in legality, not in legitimity. Then sport becomes a “playground” for lawyers and doctors, and any dignity of human movement and transcendence of human abilities in the sense of epiphany is missing.

Time plays an immensely important role in human movement, it is not time from physics and from Newtonian conception of the relation of movement and time, but it is a distinction between conceiving of an object and the contents of this object. The same content of an object can be given in different modes of conceiving, that is, as an urimpression, retention and protention. We can know about movement only from these different conceptions of the same thing, that is, to conceive of it and to know about this conceiving. If this differentiation is not possible, the human being is autistically captured in an urimpression as in something, what cannot be modified.

Intentionality is a general name for possibility of this differentiation. Mental inexistence of an object (intentionality) is above all ability to conceive of things in different values and in spite of it to establish continuity of these conceptions. It is also a reason why movement and perception are two “native sisters”. It is possible to reach this knowledge only after performing transcendental epoché, because only in this case we can understand what is noema and noesis. It is not so simple. Noesis is the way of conceiving of the same thing, it is a way, in which noema is also constituted. Therefore noesis has an enormous meaning in epistemology. Noetical pre-validities project our world, though we do not explicitly know it. They direct us. A person who seizes noeses in our thinking will own us. Noeses are the result of syntheses of retentions that are launched by the arousal of interest, the concentration of our attention. That is why questions are more important than answers.

A person, who regulates the level of questioning in the society, creates general noeses, in which the world is projected. That is why it is so important to speak about a new kind of responsibility, mainly in media. Movement is not only movement of the body, but it is also movement of entering into appearance, as it is absolutely frequent in phenomenology. Movement does not concern only the body in sport, but it also concerns the validity of the meaning of this movement. It is not Cartesian movement, but movement of indivisible body and mind. Therefore in this paper we so often connect both these parts.

As a conclusion it is necessary to say that we find the essence of movement in intentionality that we can understand only under the condition of performing transcendental epoché, because it is necessary to learn to distinguish the content of an object from conceiving of this object. And it is this view that stays hidden in Cartesian point of view in science as well as in normal life. The key to “movement” lies in noeses and noemas, retentions, urimpressions and protentions.


[1] Heidegger, M.: Básnicky bydlí člověk. Praha: Oikumene 1993, p. 19.

[2] Husserl, E.: Přednášky k fenomenologii vnitřního časového vědomí. Praha: SPN 1970. (Translated into English by the author of this article.)

[3] Husserl, E.: Přednášky k fenomenologii vnitřního časového vědomí. Praha: SPN 1970, p. 10.


Heidegger, M.: Básnicky bydlí člověk. Praha: Oikumene 1993.

Husserl, E.: Přednášky k fenomenologii vnitřního časového vědomí. Praha: SPN 1970.