In the fascicle Uji (有時), or “Being-time,” of the Shōbōgenzō (正法眼蔵) Dōgen (道元1200-1253) describes the self as time. Reality, for Dōgen, is a “presencing of things just as they are,” or genjokōan (現 所公安), because everything, including my self, is time. This view of the self as time, or as Dōgen terms it “being-time,” provides an answer to a paradox that arises from the differing ways we ordinarily understand temporal experience. In J. M. E. McTaggart’s essay “The Unreality of Time” (1908), McTaggart describes these two incompatible ways we order events as belonging either to the A-series of time, which describes our experience of time’s flowing, or the B-series of time, which describes our experience of the permanent relation of “before and after.” Dōgen’s concept of uji affirms the A-theorist’s central intuitions concerning change and its relation to the production of facts; in addition, the idea of uji reveals that the B-theorist’s description of change is flawed because it asserts that objects exist in time rather than as time. A consideration of Dōgen’s philosophy of language as it relates to his concept of the self as being-time, followed by a comparison of Dōgen’s view of time with that of J. M. E. McTaggart demonstrates the following: by asserting that the self is being-time Dōgen demonstrates that no one person’s temporal viewpoint may be privileged over another, and thereby Dōgen is able to avoid McTaggart’s paradox and support the claim that the A-series temporal order presents a better description of reality than that of the B-series.
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