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Hardcover | Out of Print | 312 pp. | 5.375 x 8 in | February 2009 | ISBN: 9780262013048
Paperback | $25.00 Short | £19.95 | 312 pp. | 5.375 x 8 in | January 2012 | ISBN: 9780262517362
eBook | $18.00 Short | January 2012 | ISBN: 9780262257411
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The Time of Our Lives

A Critical History of Temporality


The project of all philosophy may be to gain reconciliation with time, even if not every philosopher has dealt with time expressly. A confrontation with the passing of time and with human finitude runs through the history of philosophy as an ultimate concern. In this genealogy of the concept of temporality, David Hoy examines the emergence in a post-Kantian continental philosophy of a focus on the lived experience of the “time of our lives” rather than on the time of the universe. The purpose is to see how phenomenological and poststructuralist philosophers have tried to locate the source of temporality, how they have analyzed time’s passing, and how they have depicted our relation to time once it has been—in a Proustian sense—regained.

Hoy engages with competing theoretical tactics for reconciling us to our fleeting temporality, drawing on work by Kant, Heidegger, Hegel, Husserl, Merleau-Ponty, Nietzsche, Gadamer, Sartre, Bourdieu, Foucault, Bergson, Deleuze, Žižek, and Derrida. Hoy considers four existential strategies for coping with the apparent flow of temporality, including Proust’s passive and Walter Benjamin’s active reconciliation through memory, Žižek’s critique of poststructuralist politics, Foucault’s confrontation with the temporality of power, and Deleuze’s account of Aion and Chronos. He concludes by exploring whether a dual temporalization could be what constitutes the singular “time of our lives.”

About the Author

David Couzens Hoy is Distinguished Professor of Philosphy Emeritus at the University of California, Santa Cruz. He is the author of Critical Resistance: From Poststructuralism to Post-Critique (MIT Press, 2004).


“Drawing on years of immersion in the major traditions of continental philosophy—phenomenology, hermeneutics, critical theory, and genealogy—David Couzens Hoy has produced a remarkable meditation on the implications of each for the perennially vexed question of temporality. In clear and straightforward prose, he induces the reader to slow down and take the time to ponder the paradoxes of our lives lived in the present, yet haunted by the past and hopeful of the future.”
Martin Jay, Sidney Hellman Ehrman Professor of History, University of California, Berkeley
The Time of Our Lives is David Hoy at his best. The book is eclectic yet incisive, ambitious yet well-realized, complex yet readable. Hoy not only offers a compelling defense of genealogy as a mode of critique, his critical history of temporality also beautifully exemplifies the fruitfulness of genealogical critique.”
Amy Allen, Associate Professor of Philosophy and Women's and Gender Studies, Dartmouth College