Philosophical Time and the Israel-Palestine Stalemate – Note Quote



Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot treats the notion of time as a traction between change and changelessness scrutinizing human condition in the light of an absurd universe. In exposing the barest of existence, the protagonists undergo a devitalizing process through repetitive actions with slight variations, signaling a passage of time ever so slowly, yet changing without any logic whatsoever in consonance with the absurdity of the universe. The micro-level individuation encounters this change, albeit very slowly, but in relation to the macro-level universality that hardly does, because “nothing ever happens”, Beckett transcribes this temporal circularity of changelessness by means of a stasis. In the 4-dimensional spacetime, Beckett’s Pozzo wanders through space in time only to be trapped in the vicious circle of nowhere-nowhen in congruence with Heidegger’s phenomenologically existential construct of the negativity of transition from transpiring. The traction of change and changelessness is tangible here, with time having become a deadener in its repetitious circularity, and despairing when confronted with the reality of the situation. That there is no escape from this existential prison-house is likened by Javed Malick in his Introduction to Waiting for Godot (Malick, 1989). The play is a philosophical treatise of trying to come to grips with “accursed time” resonating with Hamlet’s angst, “Time is out of joint, O cursed spite/If ever I was born to set it right.” 

If this conception of space and time is angst-ridden philosophically, or even psychologically, the absolutizing of space and time by Isaac Newton; as a priori formats of intuition by Immanuel Kant; as a property of matter dictated by the spacetime continuum of Einsteinian relativistic physics; or, Bergsonian la durée (lived time) of subjectivity or lived experiences, are deep reflectors proposing a unity of empirical, pragmatic, abstracted and rational realities. This, though is achieved in philosophy historically, it mirrors an epistemic synthesis in interactions between the subject and the object in the present, a deviation from the prescribed unification. Kant is apt here, when he says, 

Without sensibility no object would be given to us, without understanding no object would be thought. Thoughts without concepts are empty; intuition without concepts are blind…the understanding can intuit nothing, the senses can think nothing. Only though union can knowledge arise (Kant, 92: 1929).

But what guarantees slipping against this reductionism generically? This gravitates significantly in the light of space and time, or spacetime  considered philosophically as an array that is continually in flux. Here the boundaries permeate unbeknownst of trying to enforce demarcations and distinctions. Be it spatial when regarded in field theories in physics, architectural spaces, sculpted voids, Cubist positive negative space, the pauses and blanks in Mallarmé’s poetry, and silence in literature and music, such cross-cutting disciplinarian constructions only involve a gerrymandering of traditions (Kern, 7: 1983). Or be it temporal, where the human agency is paramount, especially in Bergson’s la durée and is influenced by subjective and specific memories of the past and shaped by the anticipation of the future. The coming together of the spatial and temporal components is oftentimes distorting as it stretches the fabric of space, time and spacetime in a movement where nothing much happens or even if it does, it does slowly, dragging to a point where the schema appears to be a naturalized real, an external construction superimposing on the lived experience. This distorted sensibility of the Real when imported into the political realm can at best be instantiated from an inter-disciplinary perspective of philosophy and anthropologic psychology. It is here that one of the cardinal focus of Palestinian issue of waiting and in exile could best be thematized. Here, the morphic approach moves towards the psychopathological interpretation of the experience of exile from a phenomenological viewpoint, as highlighted in the philosophies of the Chilean Eduardo Carrasco (2002), the Spaniard María Zambrano (2009), and the psychiatry of the Spaniard José Solanes (1993). 

If José Solanes details the failure of discursive narrative to encompass exile in its definability, Zambrano (2004) thrashes out the problematic nature by stating that exile does not feel like such until one begins to feel abandoned.  This sense of abandonment is a suspension of space and time to which Carrasco alludes as the non-static condition of this exiled and lived experience. The phenomenon is more an issue of feeling alienated rather than differences between places or objects. As Solanes (1993) says, 

Alienness is clearly a response to a qualitative diversity that is overall perceived as a fact of discovering that in some dark way – though sometimes funny, but often disturbing – in exile we are personally related to this larger whole. Being in a qualitatively different world brings the experience of being alien. 

Carrasco (2002) matches the following with an understanding of abstract disposition of distances, geopolitical organization, our memories of the place left behind, “a world that is dwelled from specific meanings, requirements, obstacles, stimuli, possibilities, objects of desire, fear and different feelings, calling for thought, imagination, strangeness, astonishment.” This is the phenomenological perspective that was referenced to above, in that the space left behind must be understood just as it is given in consciousness, while a qualitative geography intervenes in emphasizing the configuration of space as a mode of being. Phenomenologically, consciousness is in essence deterministic when there is a convergence or unification between an individualized consciousness and the contextual circumstance in which the people find themselves in after having been displaced from their origin. This extrapolation of the individual to the people is liable to suffer the symptoms of generality, unless the loci is marked to measure and thus arrest ipseity, which is a kind of explicit self-representation, and used heavily in recent phenomenological literature in attempting to empirically study pathological self-experience (Carruthers & Musholt, 2018).  

If exile is a spatial displacement, then waiting is a temporal displacement. The allotropy of waiting is best summed up by John Milton (1673) in On His Blindness, 

They also serve who only stand and wait. 

Waiting reflects helplessness, an inability to control the pace as well as the course of events, or the dromological aspect of what Bergson means by the disorientation between la durée and objective time. The notion of time in exile or waiting for that matter is a little bit more complex even if the general agreement that time’s experience runs parallel with space’s (Silva Rojas, Nuñez & Nuñez, 2015). Eduardo Carrasco (2002) contends that to “original where”, which determines individuality, there corresponds an “original time” contouring that individual’s location within history. Zombrano (2004), not only is in consonance with Carrasco, but goes a step ahead by differentiating between Solanes’ idea of “un-space” (desespacio) and “un-time” (destiempo), where the exiled is also expulsed from her original time. This is deconstruction in principle where the exiled is frozen in the past and is only presence. This loci of the exiled on the periphery of history is caught between the past and the future through nostalgia and hope, or the stress between the ontic and the ontological. The tension here can be paraphrased from medieval scholasticism as an haecceity that perseveres with the ontic as it continually encounters the strangeness of a new space (exiled to) in its desire for hope. If the ontic were to lose out, it is nostalgic as struggle ensues once a link with the self is severed. Here takes place a consequential substitution in the form of hope, a future of undetermined time, or waiting. In the tradeoff of nostalgia and hope, past and future, the philosophical basis of past, present and future as a linear continuum is broken, and what we have instead is a traction between space and time, where the newness of space proportionates time as standing still for the exiled. 

A combination of such distortions in space, time and/or spacetime for the exiled could lead to psychopathological symptoms. In introducing the phenomenological notions of psychopathology, Karl Jaspers (1997) opened up the avenue for the structures of subjectivity that underpin the experience of a reality, which, when modified determine psychopathological lebenswelt (Fuchs, 2010). There are five dimensions of phenomenological psychopathology that gain significance, and in a way links to the thematic issue of the Palestinian cause, viz. lived time, lived space, lived body, intersubjectivity and selfhood. Lived Time is Bergsonian in import. Lived Space is an embodiment of a relationship between a person and her world as situated. Lived Body is a 3-dimensional experiential self-awareness, object-meaning & meaning-bestowing, and experiences of the other. Intersubjectivity as an emergent phenomenon is the pragmatic constitution of reality as regards other’s behavior and expression. Selfhood is either pre-reflexive or reflexive, primordial acquaintance with oneself or Self’s narrative identity respectively. The permutations of these five dimensions help understand human existence and determines psychopathological experiences. In connecting these rudiments with the exiled population that have distinct memories with its evocation of the past and a future-oriented hope, phenomenology impresses a qualitative rather than a quantitative parametric. For instance, when spatially treated, phenomenological distance supersedes geometric distance because the baggage of temporality is always accompanying the exiled. In itself, exile might not be true to psychopathological experiences, but generates enough conditions where symptoms of psychopathology are realized, be it in the form of melancholia or anguish. This completes the circle back to angst-ridden philosophy we began with. On the other side of the equation, exile could augment socio- and ethnocultural acculturation through a process of miscegenation, which in the words of Sonia Montecinos (1998) occurs through a process where “the purely biological yields to other processes linked to the history of our territories; coupling of people is a coupling of cultures: the acculturation that is the mixture of cultural elements, and assimilation – i.e., the absorption of an individual or a people by another culture.” But, this side of the equation in the considered case of the Palestinian cause is a far cry from being realizable, and does nothing substantial to assuage the fractious intersubjectivity that is the unwritten principle of the day. 

This, in fulfilling the main research questions also draws to close the hypothesis of how the ideas of space and time with their multi-dimensional characteristics are ingrained in the lives of the Palestinians. 


Beckett, S. (1989). Waiting For Godot. A Tragicomedy in Two Acts. Introduction and Notes by Javed Malick. New York: Oxford University Press.

Carrasco E. Exilio y universalidad. Interpretación fenomenológica del exilio (Exile and universality. Phenomenological interpretation of exile). In: Carrasco E, editor. Palabra de Hombre. Tractatus de filosofía chilensis (Word of Man. Tractatus of Chilean philosophy). Santiago: RIL; (2002). p. 203–61. 

Carruthers, G. & Musholt, K. (2018). Ipseity at the Intersection of Phenomenology, Psychiatry and Philosophy of Mind: Are we Talking about the Same Thing?. Review of Philosophy and Psychology. 

Fuchs T. Phenomenology and psychopathology. In: Schmicking D, Gallagher S, editors. Handbook of Phenomenology and Cognitive Science. Dordrecht: Springer (2010) 546–73.

Gómez Blesa M. Introducción. In: Zambrano M, Blesa MG, editors. Las palabras del regreso (The Words of Return). Madrid: Cátedra; (2009). p. 11–59.

Jaspers K. (1997). General Psychopathology, Vol. 1, 2. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press.

Kant, I. (1929). Critique of Pure Reason. Trans. Norman Smith. Unabridged Edition. New York: St. Martin’s Press. 

Kern, S. (1983). The Culture of Time and Space 1880-1918. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press. 

Milton, J. (1673) “[On His Blindness] Sonnet 16 .” Poetry for Students. . Retrieved June 21, 2022 from

Montecinos S. Mestizaje In: Boletín de Filosofía (Bulletin of Philosophy) no. 9. Santiago de Chile: Universidad Católica Blas Cañas; (1998). p. 226–35.

Silva Rojas, M., Armijo Nuñez, J., & Nuñez Erices, G. (2015). Philosophical and Psychopathological Perspective of Exile: On Time and Space Experiences. Frontiers in psychiatry, 6, 78.

Solanes J. Los nombre del exilio (The Names of Exile). Caracas: Monte Ávila Editores; (1993). 

Zambrano M. Los bienaventurados (The Blessed). Madrid: Siruela; (2004).


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