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Human society exists in two temporal measurements. Astronomical time is uniform, homogenous, quantitative and continuous. Social time cannot be described in the same way for there are days for special functions, periods of time with specific features due to the activities, meanings and associations with them, and critical dates breaking the continuity of time. Social time has a qualitative character, a nonuniform flow - it can slow down, speed up and even stop, and it cannot be arbitrarily divided into parts. The concept of social time suggests that time is a human creation, social life produces different temporal structures of social phenomena together with the tools and units to measure time. Despite the duration and thematic richness, the debates on social time unfairly ignore C. Levi-Strauss’s theory of synchronic time. The article considers its prerequisites, criticism and main ideas, in particular, the famous typology of “hot” and “cold” societies distinguished by the criterion of time as manifested differently in different types of social systems and having different meanings. Societies with the same perception of historical time as our society today, i.e. considering time as a huge folder where historical events are systematized not to be forgotten, are called hot (and emphasize one’s historicity). Cold societies’ basic cognitive systems try to be static and indifferent to changes, i.e. strive to ignore historicity and externalize it as alien to them. The author emphasizes that when speaking of cold societies as not taking time and historicity into account Levi-Strauss does not want to rewrite the laws of logic or physics and just attempts to see the world through the eyes of another culture.

About the authors

J Šubrt

Charles University in Prague

Author for correspondence.
U Kříže, 8, 15800 Praha 5, Czech Republic



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