According to McTaggart (1927,. 910 positions in time, as time appears to us prima facie, are distinguished in two ways. Each position is Earlier than some and Later than some of the other positions. In the second place, each position is either Past, Present, or Future. The distinctions of the former class are permanent, add while those of the latter are not. If (M) is ever earlier than (n it is always earlier, but an event, which is now present, was future, and will be past. The first structure of positions in time, mcTaggart called the b-series. I will assume that McTaggart intended the b-series to coincide with the newtonian spacetime structure described above.
I can easily ascertain, for instance, yesterdays closing number for the dow Jones Industrial average, but by no efforts, however great, can I now ascertain tomorrows close. And it seems as if my future actions (or certain sorts of quantum measurements) can actualize some future possibilities as opposed to others, whereas past actions (or the results of past quantum measurements) seem no longer to admit of past alternatives. Even if one allows for the possibility of retrocausation, that is, for the possibility of an effect preceding its cause in time, it is generally held that a present cause can not change or alter the past. It would merely make the past what it was. (see the entry on backwards causation for further consideration of this topic.) Eternalism too, prima facie, would seem to have trouble accounting for the asymmetries built into possibilism, while also apparently bearing the burden of an implausible denial of passage. But the first topic to which we shall turn is an argument, prominent in twentieth century philosophy of time, that passage or becoming is a self-contradictory idea. If the argument is correct, then neither presentism nor possibilism can be correct metaphysical views of time and being. 2.2 McTaggarts Argument At the beginning of the 20th century,. McTaggart (1908) presented an argument which purported to prove that time is unreal.
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These arrows represent, then, the dynamic aspect of time called temporal becoming or passage. It is widely thought that the deepest problems in the metaphysics of time concern the understanding of passage or temporal becoming and its relation to existence. In contrast to the radical Heraclitean view of presentism, the parmenidean eternalist picture on the far right lacks these arrows and indicates that there is no more special about the temporal present (the now ) than the spatial present (the here ). Future and past events at a place, on this view, are no more or less real than distant events at a time. The now like the here is a function of ones perspective, ones position in the spacetime, and these positions are indicated by the line in the spacetime representing the history of spacetime locations of a particular object or person. Such a line is often called a world line.
The middle view, possibilism, is indeed an intermediate view. It is a passage view, but it is less ontologically sparse than presentism. While on this view the future is still merely possible rather than actual (hence its name the past has become and is fully actual. If one thinks of the future as a branching structure of alternative possibilities (as the result, for instance, of free human choices or indeterministic quantum measurements then one can think of the past and present as the trunk of that tree, growing as possibilities become. This view is also known as the growing block view. Possibilism seems to capture much of the way we think about time and being. While the sparse symmetry of presentism is attractive, there are many deep asymmetries concerning past and future that it fails to reflect.
(In the special theory of relativity the temporal interval between two distinct spacetime points fails to be absolute in this sense.) If the temporal interval between two events is 0, then we say that the two events are simultaneous. This relation of (absolute) simultaneity is an equivalence relation (That is, it is reflexive, symmetric, and transitive.) that slices (partitions or foliates) the spacetime or manifold into mutually exclusive and exhaustive planes of simultaneity. These planes of simultaneity can then be completely ordered by the relation is earlier than or its converse is later than. 2.1 Presentism, possibilism, Eternalism The geometrical structure of Newtonian spacetime reflects the way we ordinarily think about time and is the proper backdrop for introducing the three major rival metaphysical views of time, as illustrated below: Figure. Three metaphysics of Time The first view, represented on the left, is the ontologically austere view called presentism, the view that only the present exists.
The past has been but is no longer, while the future will come to be but is not yet. Note that it is the convention of these diagrams that one spatial dimension is suppressed. The present is actually a three dimensional global slice of the spacetime. Moreover, the illustration necessarily represents the spatial extent of the present as finite and may suggest that time also has a beginning and/or end. These views are, however, merely artifacts of the representation and not integral to presentism, possibilism, or eternalism. The diagram illustrating presentism also has four arrows pointing towards the top of the page (conventionally taken to represent the future direction) attached to the plane representing the present. These arrows are meant to indicate something that is integral to presentism, the idea that the present (and hence the existent) constantly shifts or changes.
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The reader interested in these approaches may wish to oliver consult the entry the experience and perception of time. Newtonian Spacetime modern physical theories are often formulated in a language that permits one to express a variety of different views with respect to time and its relation to space. One can, for example, formulate the basic ideas of classical (that is, newtonian) physics, the special theory of relativity, and the general theory of relativity in this language. For a brief introduction to manifolds and the spacetime view, see the section on modern spacetime theories in the entry on the hole argument in this Encyclopedia. For more detail with minimal technical demands the reader should see the first four chapters of Geroch (1978) or the more demanding chapter 2 of Friedman (1983). For our purposes, the defining feature of a manifold that is a newtonian spacetime is that the temporal interval between any two points or events in the spacetime, (p) and (q is a well-defined quantity. This quantity is well-defined in that it does not depend upon point of view, reference frame, coordinate system or observer. This quantity, then, is absolute in the sense of being frame- or observer-independent.
There are many ways, however, to approach these questions. Early in the twentieth century, anglo-American philosophy turned to consideration of language as a way to clarify philosophical disputes. Philosophers of time debated the relative primacy of tensed language (concerning the notions of present, past, and future) or tenseless language (concerning the relations of simultaneity and temporal precedence). Our considerations of physics will generally, though not completely, skirt linguistic disputes. The reader interested in following these debates can find a useful introduction in the entry on invented time, a classic presentation in Gale (1968 and a review and discussion in tooley (1999). Other philosophers have been influenced by analogies between time and modality. The reader interested in this way of thinking about time should consult the article on temporal logic. The present article will focus on time in physics and the relations between time and space. Other philosophical approaches focus on the primacy of experience in our understanding of time.
described in physics; and, on the other hand, the peculiarities of mans experiences with respect to time, including his different attitude towards past. But Einstein thought that these scientific descriptions cannot possibly satisfy our human needs; that there is something essential about the now which is just outside the realm of science. We both agreed that this was not a question of a defect for which science could be blamed, as Bergson thought. I did not wish to press the point, because i wanted primarily to understand his personal attitude to the problem rather than to clarify the theoretical situation. But I definitely had the impression that Einsteins thinking on this point involved a lack of distinction between experience and knowledge. Since science in principle can say all that can be said, there is no unanswerable question left. But though there is no theoretical question left, there is still the common human emotional experience, which is sometimes disturbing for special psychological reasons. This difference as expressed here between Einstein and Carnap (that is, between the heraclitean and Parmenidean attitude towards time and change) is the subject of this article, which will use modern physics—especially modern spacetime theory—as a set of lenses through which it is hoped the.
And on this road there are many signs that What Is has no beginning and never will be destroyed: it is whole, still, and without end. It neither was nor will be, it simply is—now, altogether, one, continuous, permanence is basic. No things come to be or, slipping into the past, cease. Past, present, and future are distinctions not marked in the static. Time and becoming are at best secondary, at worst illusory, as our understanding of the world confirms. Turn now dissertation to modern times and to a paragraph in Rudolf Carnaps intellectual autobiography (Carnap 1963,. 3738 Once einstein said that the problem of the now worried him seriously. He explained that the experience of the now means something special for man, something essentially different from the past and the future, but that this important difference does not and cannot occur within physics.
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Introduction, around 500. Heraclitus wrote the following: everything flows and nothing abides; everything gives way and nothing stays fixed. You cannot step twice into the same river, for other waters and yet others, go flowing. Time is a child, moving counters in a game; the royal power is a childs. 1, transience is basic, and the present is primary. Those things which exist now do not abide. They slip into the past and non-existence, devoured by time, as all experience attests. A generation or so later we have a classic statement of the opposing view by parmenides: There remains, then, but one word by which to express the true road:.