It will be immediately objected that, since the passage of time consists of different times being successively present, from the premise that 1 the presentness of a single time doesn't suffice to make it true that time passes, one cannot safely conclude that 2 tensed statements can only express changeless propositions. It may be granted, for example, that the singular proposition that today is present does not suffice to express the fact that time passes; but surely, it will be argued, today's presentness together with the distinct proposition that yesterday has been present too should be more than enough to express the fact of passage.
What more can one reasonably ask for? A-theorists, in fact, often express their commitment to the dynamic nature of time by supplementing their realist accounts of A-determinations with the comparative truth that what is real or true, or actual, or irreducibly present, etc. On the version of presentism under consideration, to say that presentness moves along the ersatz B-series is to say something like this:. Notice, however, that the information that a given event say yesterday's presentness is past does not contain the information that something is or was chang ing although a proposition to this effect can be arguably inferred from it.
One can realize that things are so by noting that the proposition that yesterday is past is logically equivalent to the conjunction of: Now, if, as I have argued, proposition 1 can be made true by a changeless fact, then surely its conjunction with the obtaining of the B-theoretic hence changeless relation expressed by proposition 2 can be made true by a changeless fact too. Another way to expose the essential changelessness of A-theoretic facts is by noting that past tense propositions express truths which obtain in the present.
The pastness of yesterday's presentness, for example, is simultaneous with today's presentness: Of course this is not to say that yesterday is simultaneous with today, which would be absurd: Now, how can the obtaining of two simultaneous changeless albeit A-theoretic facts make it true that time passes? Put more metaphorically, both today's current presentness and yesterday's current pastness can be viewed as simultaneous A-theoretic "snapshots", since they presuppose that a particular position within the A-series has been reached, and provide us with an instantaneous, albeit A-theoretic, "picture" of reality as seen from that position.
How could any instantaneous snapshot of reality, or any static i. B-theoretic sequence of similar snapshots, for that matter, make it true that time passes? We are tricked into thinking that irreducible tense properties are immune from the charge of changelessness because we tend to read more into the Realist contention that there are past states of affairs than it actually conveys.
We assume that if something is already past it must have become past first. While this assumption may be correct, however, the proposition that an event is past does still not convey the same thought as the proposition that that event was becoming past, when or before it became past. The disregard of A-theorists for the fact of transiency is particularly clear in Crisp's response to Oaklander:. Imagine someone trying to argue against actualism in the same vein. Actualists, they say, hold that one and only one world W1 has the property being actual but that for some distinct world W2 logically accessible from W1, POSS[W2 has being actual].
But this won't do, says our objector, because if W1 has being actual and POSS[W2 has being actual], then, contrary to actualism, both W1 and W2 have being actual. This isn't an impressive objection to actualism. It is interestingly different, I argue! It is, at least, if one wishes to incorporate the idea that which states of affairs happen to be present is a matter that keeps changing. Possible worlds, unlike times which must become past , are not required to become real, and the actual world is not required to become merely possible.
That's why that argument is unimpressive. Cresswell proposed a modal version of McTaggart's argument, very much in line with that which Crisp has ridiculed. It was devised to show that primitive modality is unreal, just like McTaggart had tried to show that time is unreal.
Here is how it goes:. Many M-positions are incompatible with each other. An event which is merely possible for example cannot also be actual. Being merely possible and being actual are mutually incompatible properties of things and events. But because they are contingencies everything has to have them all. Everything occupies every M-position from merely possible to actual. But nothing can really have incompatible properties, so nothing in reality has modal properties.
M-positions are a myth. This argument is appropriate to expose the essential role of the transitory aspect of time in McTaggart's reasoning. As Heather Dyke has rightly observed:. In seeking to construct a modal analogue of McTaggart's paradox, Cresswell faltered when it came to invoking a modal analogue of the continual change of tense that events undergo. He appealed to the 'contingency' of modal properties, but it clearly does not validate the analogous modal inference. Thus, this modal analogue of McTaggart's paradox fails to force one into the position either of rejecting modality as incoherent as McTaggart rejects tense as incoherent or of adopting modal realism as Mellor adopts tenseless time.
It fails, I believe, because there is no clear modal analogue of the change of tense that events and times appear to undergo. One of the consequences of the above mentioned disregard has been a focus on the semantic aspects of the debate in most of last Century's theorizing.
Can statements involving tense predicates be translated into statements which don't? For a long time, the difficulties in providing adequate B-theoretic paraphrases for A-theoretic claims has been perceived by all parties as a threat to the B-theory. This semantic take in the philosophy of time has tended to fade after the metaphysical turn. He sets a number of constraints which Presentism must satisfy, if it is to advance a worldview that is substantially distinguishable from Eternalism. According to McTaggart , we have seen, the non-temporal ground of time is a series of events existing eternally with an intrinsic order, but no intrinsic sense: Only the motion of a shifting now could make this series genuinely temporal, since only a shifting now would provide grounds for the relations between these events being genuinely B-theoretic.
You were born after the French revolution, not because of some intrinsic feature of either the revolution or your birth, or of the times at which these events occurred, or of some relation induced by the order which the series instantiates.
It was the marching present, which at some point enlightened the revolution pun not intended , when your birth was still future, which grounds the fact that your birth occurred later than the revolution. As Oaklander has observed several times, this presupposes that B-relations are internal relations. McTaggart's failure to appreciate this point is crucial in the derivation of his idealistic conclusion.http://smeltd.co.uk/6825.php
Recent Trends in the Philosophy of Time: an Introduction to Time and Reality I
The same failure on the part of most B-theorists, Oaklander thinks, is also responsible for one of the most serious weaknesses of the standard Eternalist worldview: I would agree that B-theoretic relations are changeless [ We are given flow, passage, whoosh or whatever in our experience, so why not say that the R-relation the sequence is itself the ground of the dynamism? Admittedly, R-facts do not change since like all facts, they are not in time, but that is compatible with their being temporal facts in virtue of containing temporal dynamic, transitions from earlier to later relations.
In his Commonsense, Ontology and Time this volume , Oaklander expands on the R-theory of time, and uses it to criticize Lynne Baker's version of tense realism. In The Metaphysics of Everyday Life , Lynne Baker, who in the past advocated the unreality of tense, argues that what is manifest in everyday life, language and experience should be given full ontological status as "irreducibly real. The world that we interact with is ordered temporally by both the B-series and the A-series. Baker thus proposes a hybrid view, which she calls the AB-theory, according to which the world comprises both irreducible B- and A-theoretic elements.
Oaklander argues that Baker's insistence that there be an ontological counterpart to passage which transcends the B-structure derives from a failure to appreciate the true nature of R-theoretic relations. R-relations are temporal because they are inherently and irreducibly dynamic. This first part of the special issue also features another broadly Russellian response to McTaggart's argument: Erwin Tegtmeier's Time and Order. After advancing an interesting analysis of the concept of order, Tegtmeier reaches a conclusion that agrees with Oaklander's:.
McTaggart's argument against the ontological analysis of temporal passage by relational facts is that relational facts do not change while the earmark of time is change. The argument rests on two category mistakes. Firstly, relational facts are used by Russell to analyze change. Therefore, it does not make sense to allow for changing facts [ Secondly, time is the basis of and thus must not change itself.
Time itself is the only respect in which no change is possible. The never-ending interest in McTaggart's argument has recently resurged, as a number of authors proposed versions of it which appear more aware of the problems that I have been outlining. What they have in common is the thought that passage requires more than the presentness of a single moment of time. Kit Fine proposed a version of McTaggart's argument which consists in showing that Tense Realism is incompatible with three other doctrines about the nature of reality and time.
This is how Fine proposes to derive the incompatibility between these doctrines and tense Realism:. It follows from Realism that reality is constituted by some tensed fact. There will therefore be some time t at which this fact obtains. Now Neutrality states that reality is not oriented towards one time as opposed to another. So reality will presumably be constituted by similar sorts of tensed facts that obtain at other times given that there are other times! We wish to show that it then follows that reality will be constituted by incompatible facts [ By Absolutism reality is absolutely constituted by these facts; and this is then contrary to Coherence.
Tense realists naturally respond to this challenge by denying Neutrality. Presentists, for example, claim that the totality of facts which constitute reality are always ones which obtain only at the present time: Growing blockers claim that the present is that solitary time which stands at the advancing edge of all the facts which obtain or have obtained. Advocates of the moving spotlight view think that, although all the facts which have obtained, which obtain and which will obtain are real, it is always the case that only one time is lit by the light of presentness.
What all these views have in common is the contention that the passage of time consists in the continuous shifting of that always solitary time which happens to be present. Having denied Neutrality, tense realists may think that they can then safely escape from Fine's McTaggart and commit to the intuitive doctrines of Absolutism and Coherence. Fine, however, like all proponents of the New McTaggart, argues that the view that reality is oriented towards a privileged present time borrowing Price's terminology, let us call this doctrine Exclusivity is incompatible with a consistent account of temporal passage.
Abandoning Absolutism gives rise to a view which Fine calls External Relativism: Denying Coherence, instead, gives rise to a doctrine according to which reality is absolutely composed by mutually incompatible facts Fragmentalism. Either option commits the Realist to endorse Neutrality: As Fine puts it, under these non-standard versions of Realism, "presentness is not frozen on a particular moment of time and the light it sheds is spread equitably throughout all time".
In his contribution to this issue, Steven Savitt argues that Fine's Fragmentalism does not evade the problem of changelessness. In a sense, Savitt turns Fine's own reasoning against Fragmentalism itself. Here is how Fine expresses the difficulty faced by standard realists:. The standard realist faces a general difficulty. For suppose we ask: The answer is that he need add nothing beyond the fact that a given time t is present, since everything else of tense-theoretic interest will follow from this fact and the tenseless facts. But then how could this solitary 'dynamic' fact, in addition to the static facts that the anti-realist is willing to accept, be sufficient to account for the passage of time?
Savitt argues that Fine's juxtaposition of many such solitary "dynamic" facts does nothing to alleviate the difficulty:. On a similar vein, other authors have argued that passage requires more than the presentness of a single moment of time, that transitions "seem to involve a relation between equals, a passing of the baton between one state of affairs an another" 36 ; but, unlike Fine, they drew from them the conclusion that we should endorse an anti-realist conception of passage Oaklander, this issue ; or, even more radically, that we should opt for a "Copernican shift" and deny the reality passage altogether Price Drawing from Lewis' analysis of change Lewis , Donald Baxter, in his Aspects and the Alteration of Temporal Simples this issue , derives a rendition of McTaggart's argument that is in tune with these observations:.
Only persisting things can alter. Moments are instantaneous so do not persist. If instantaneous moments were future, then present, then past then something that does not persist would alter. So moments are not future, then present, then past. The thought behind this argument is that times could change only if they could persist, but since they don't, they cannot change in any respect. Baxter appeals to the theory of aspects to rebuke this rendition of the argument.
It just requires that the tense aspects of the temporal simple be coordinated with the present-tense aspects of successive moments". Baxter's views bear substantial resemblances with Ludlow's perspectivalism. It would be interesting to explore further how Baxter's aspects relate to Ludlow's perspectives, and if his theory of aspects too could be deployed in a defence of tense realism in a relativistic setting, but this falls beyond the scope of this introduction.
Why do we think that the present picks out a unique, distinguished time, at the expense of all others? And why do we think that this time keeps changing? Even Einstein was initially reluctant to give in to the Minkowskian interpretation of his theory of relativity, since it threatened to make hash of this deeply entrenched intuition.
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Carnap reports that even later in his life Einstein was deeply dissatisfied with the fact that physics wouldn't do justice to our experience of the now. In his contribution to this issue, Oaklander offers a critique of Baker's Moorian defence of the evidential base of the A-theory. After articulating the different stances that we make take vis a vis the metaphysical import of phenomenological data, Oaklander concludes that Baker's insistence that we concede ontological citizenship to A-theoretic determinations is misplaced.
Baker, he claims, shares with McTaggart and many others the mistaken assumption that the series of events which grounds the B-series is, in itself, non temporal, or static. Kriestie Miller and Jane Weiling Loo, in their Presentism, Passage, Phenomenology and Physicalism this volume offer a different critique to the idea that the A-theory is mandated by our experience of time. While remaining neutral as to the direct metaphysical import of our temporal phenomenology, they argue that our phenomenology favours presentism only if physicalism is false.
Since most philosophers are not prepared to jettison physicalism, their argument constitutes a serious challenge to all phenomenological routes to the A-theory. One of the chief assets of the A-theory of time is that it promises to do justice to the intuition that the past is substantially different from the future, in that the past is fixed and done with, while the future is somewhat open. This is supposed to be a necessary precondition for retaining a robust sense of freedom in human action.
If the future is just as fixed and done with as the past is, it seems, then no one could be held responsible for his or her actions. If Jack the Ripper was fated to commit his horrible crimes since before he was even born, then it seems like any moral judgement about these actions is doomed to be irrational, since he was never really free to do otherwise.
Analogously, it has often been argued that the B-theory of time is more hospitable to the Humean view of natural laws, according to which the laws supervene on the totality of non-modal facts. This, in turn, has been seen as a shortcoming of the B-theory, since it appears to be at odds with the idea that the future is open. In his Fatalism as a Metaphysical Thesis this issue Ulrich Meyer argues that this common preconception against the B-theory of time is misconstrued.
After a careful analysis of the notion of predetermination of events, Meyer argues that the idea that some or all of our actions are fated is neutral with respect to the underlying ontology of time. He thereby concludes that the doctrine of fatalism should not be of any concern to the metaphysician. The future needs not be open in the metaphysical sense for agents to be free. Francesco Orilia this issue disagrees. In his On the Existential side of the Eternalism-Presentism Dispute he defends the view that Presentism is uniquely capable of making room for a morally and emotionally relevant openness of the future.
Marius Backmann this issue agrees with Orilia. He submits that it is a desideratum of any view of laws, that they should accommodate for the fact that the future is open in a sense that cuts some ice. In his I tensed the laws and the laws won - non-eternalist Humeanism he advances a view of laws that is Humean in outline, but which is compatible with the A-theory of time. He argues that this view is exempt from standard objections.
A related debate over the respective virtues of Eternalism and Presentism is that over the value of death. Since antiquity, it was noted that we fear death, which is our future non existence, but we don't appear to have a similar attitude towards the symmetric phenomenon of our prenatal non existence. Now, within an A-theoretic framework, this asymmetry may be justified by the observation that, unlike our past non existence, our future non existence lies ahead of us. The day of our death is dreadfully approaching us. None of this appears to make sense in an Eternalist universe.
As Orilia has observed in his contribution to this volume, some may even argue that for this reason, endorsing an Eternalist ontology can help us to "tame our fear of death and to ground our desire to see as preserved what we value most; and, on the other hand, may contribute to discipline any Kierkegaardian anxiety that might seize us in deliberation". In his Fear of Death and the Symmetry Argument this issue , Gal Yehezkel argues that these presumed implications of the metaphysics of time for the rational appraisal of our asymmetric attitudes towards death and birth are misplaced.
He argues that these attitudes should be rather seen as grounded on contingent facts about the processes of birth and death themselves:. While birth is viewed as a nomologically necessary condition for life, and therefore is seen as a blessing, death is viewed as a nomologically unnecessary, and therefore possibly avoidable, limit to life. This asymmetry not only explains the fear of death, and the joy of birth, but also justifies these basic human attitudes.
Natalja Deng's contribution to this issue contains a critique of Yehezkel's stance. She objects that there is no reason to think that birth is more nomologically necessary than death. Her considerations intriguingly invite us to ask, not why we fear death, but rather "why we shouldn't fear prenatal nonexistence too. The implications of the philosophy of time for morality, human existence, freedom or the fear of death and viceversa have been debated for thousands of years.
An aspect of the debate that has been relatively neglected regards the implications of the philosophy of time for the field of Aesthetics and viceversa. The closing two essays of this first part of the special issue promise to make up for it. Storrs McCall proposed an argument devised to show that backward time travel is impossible, even in circumstance that do not involve changing the past.
The argument proceeds from contemplating an imaginary scenario in which a renowned artist copies his paintings from reproductions of his own future paintings. McCall notes that in such a scenario there is no room for the role of the artist's creativity. But since "the aesthetic value of a work of art [ After considering various options, Emily Caddick Bourne and Craig Bourne, in their contribution to this issue, offer a solution to McCall's puzzle which allows us to maintain that the value of works of art is related to the creative process which produced them, while making room for the possibility of time travel.
Their solution involves questioning the assumption that, in the envisaged scenario, there would be no room for creativity. While this solution is interesting in its own right, it also offers original insights to the field of Aesthetics, in that it casts new light onto the relation between copying and creativity.
In the introduction to a collection of his papers, McCall offered a prize for a solution to his puzzle. McCall disagrees with the authors. His response will appear in the second part of this special issue.
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As we have discussed at the beginning of this introduction, the cinematographic metaphor played an important role in the development of our understanding of time at the beginning of last Century. An aspect that has been less explored regards the implications of the philosophy of time for our understanding of cinematographic fiction. In his contribution to this issue, Robin Le Poidevin considers the question of whether the way in which we think time actually is should influence the way in which we experience time in fiction.
If, for example, we are open future theorists, he asks, should we take the fictional future to be open? Le Poidevin considers various ways in which our conceptions of real time and fictional time may match or fail to do so. Interestingly, his considerations lead him to draw a conclusion about the modal status of the A-theory of time:.
That is, we can imagine a time series in ways not defined by a past, present and future. We can, as it were, view fictional time from a 'God's eye' perspective. That suggests that it is not, after all, an essential feature of time that it passes, or has a present which marks the boundary between a determinate past and an indeterminate future. Perhaps, even if time is structured in this way, this is, like its geometry, a contingent feature. I have argued that there has been a tendency in the philosophy of time to separate the debate over the reality of temporal passage from the debate over the reality of tense.
This has obscured potentially relevant aspects of the metaphysical nature of time.
Philosophy of Literature
One of the aims of this volume was to bring these two issues together, where they belong. I think many contributions to it go in the right direction. Moreover, a number of essays in this first part of the issue fruitfully bring metaphysics and other domains of philosophical enquiry together. I take this to show that, notwithstanding some opinions to the contrary, contemporary Metaphysics is still big with the future.
Would you like to change to the Brazil site? Fictional Form and Symphonic Structure: Read an Excerpt Excerpt 3: Added to Your Shopping Cart. Description Philosophy of Literature presents six newly-commissioned essays from international scholars that address some of the key issues relating to the philosophy of literature, a thriving and increasingly influential branch of aesthetics Features a half dozen newly commissioned articles from leading scholars in the field of philosophy of literature Focuses on a branch of aesthetics that has not received the attention it deserves Includes a reading on the historical relationship between philosophy and literature with recent developments and projections for the future Contributors include Peter Lamarque University of York , Peter Kivy Rutgers University, USA and Stein Haugom Olsen University of Bergen, Norway.
He is the author of three books on the philosophy of Wittgenstein: