The Primacy of Tense – University of Copenhagen

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Centre for Communication and Computing > Research > The Primacy of Tense

The Primacy of Tense

A.N. Prior Now and Then

PURPOSE: The project will study the temporal logic developed in the middle of 20th century by A.N. Prior and its modern manifestations in logic and philosophy as well as information and computer science. Another purpose of the project is to digitize and publish works of Prior that are currently only available as manuscripts, deposited in the Bodleian Library. This process at the same time aims at developing a virtual and collaborative international forum for the study of Prior’s ideas as well as temporal logic in general. In this respect the project also contains a semi-independent contribution to digital humanities.

METHOD: The approach is systematical as well as historical. The historical approach is centered on charting the overall architecture of Prior’s contribution, that is, connections between his works in metaphysics, logic, ethics and philosophy in general. Also his early work in theology is included in this study. A very important part of this work is the digitization of Prior’s unpublished manuscripts, letters etc. in the Bodleian Library. This digitization is not merely the virtual rendering of archival material but includes a systematization in terms of metadata and ontology, which is in itself a systematical contribution. The systematical partly proceeds from this historical and digitizing approach, and partly forms a study in its own right. Prior’s paradigm for developing temporal logic includes a number of fundamental questions about the nature of time, the role of logic and the scope of formalization. It also forms the basis of what is now known as hybrid logic, one of the important advances in logic within the 21st century. The project systematically studies and further develops these issues and systems, also with a view to their application in information and computer science.

PARTICIPANTS: Aalborg University, Roskilde University, University of Copenhagen (Royal School of Library and Information Science), Technical University of Denmark, University of Southern Denmark and Aarhus University.

FUNDING: The project is funded by Det Frie Forskningsråd | Kultur og Kommunikation with DKK 6.106.979 and will run for 3 years from 1 October 2016.

CONTACT: Professor Per Hasle,, tel. +45 53 53 66 88