Time

Edited by Sam Baron (Australian Catholic University)
Assistant editors: David Ingram, B. C. Everett, Alexander Sandgren
About this topic
Summary

The philosophy of time can be divided into roughly four core areas: the metaphysics of time, the physics of time, temporal language, and the psychology of time. The metaphysics of time includes investigations about temporal ontology, the persistence of objects across time, time travel and the passage of time. The ontology of time investigates the ontological status and nature of the past, present, and future. The persistence literature involves determining how it is that objects persist through time – i.e. whether they endure in the sense that the same object is wholly present at every moment at which it exists, or perdure in the sense that they persist through time by having distinct temporal parts at difference times. The topic of time travel involves investigating whether and what kinds of time travel scenarios are logically, physically, or metaphysically possible. Investigations into the passage of time involve determining what the passage of time is, whether or not temporal passage exists, and what kind of ontology of time is necessary for time to pass. The next core aspect, the physics of time, involves issues related to temporal ontology, passage, and other aspects of time, such as direction, temporal asymmetry, and temporal eliminitavism. The ontology of time and physics involves the supposed incompatibility of certain ontologies with relativistic physics. That is, it is sometimes thought that an eternalist ontology (one on which all times exist and are on equal footing) is compatible with relativistic physics and incompatible with sparser ontologies (views according to which either only the present, or the present and past exist). The issues of direction and temporal asymmetry, then, involve pairing views about the direction of time with the laws of physics. Finally, temporal eliminitavism often involves using theories of physics to bolster the claim that time does not exist. Core debates in the literature on the philosophy of language and time include indexicals, tensed expressions and their compatibility with certain ontologies, and whether or not the language we use affects the way we experience time. An important topic in this literature is whether or not our use of tensed expressions such as ‘now’ and ‘is’ are compatible with a B-theoretic ontology. Therefore, a lot of work in this area for the B-theorist involves squaring these kinds of expressions with the B-theory. Additionally, the use of so called tensed language is sometimes posited as an explanation for why we think that time passes in the way described by A-theorists. Temporal psychology in the philosophy of time involves investigating our temporal experience – i.e., it involves assessing our experience in light of our assumptions about the metaphysics of time and vice versa. Notable topics in the category of temporal experience are temporal ontology, the passage of time, and temporal consciousness. Temporal ontology and the passage of time, together with temporal experience, involves assessing whether our experience lends itself to any particular theory over others. Additionally, an important topic in the temporal experience literature is temporal consciousness over time and the nature of our experience of continuity over time, especially in regard to the feeling of an extended, or specious, present. The disagreement here is about the nature of the specious present – i.e., whether there are individual specious presents that are extended across times, or whether the experience of specious presents involves a representation of things as extended across times. The rationality of temporal preferences across times is also an important topic.

Key works

McTaggart 1908 argues that time does not exist. This text is often seen as the starting point for most contemporary work on the metaphysics of time. The three main views stemming from McTaggart 1908 are the A-theory (see Cameron 2015Zimmerman 2005, and Bourne 2006), the B-theory (see Oaklander 2012, and Deng 2013), and the C-theory (see Price 1996, and Farr 2012). Mellor 1981Mellor 1998, and Callender 2017 are also important modern texts on temporal ontology. A good introduction to the time travel literature is Effingham 2020. For issues relating to the persistence literature, good places to start are Hawley 2001Miller 2009, and Sider 2001. For issues related to the tensed/tenseless debate see Dyke 2003, and Dyke 2011, and for issues surrounding tensed language and experience see Miller et al 2020. For book length discussions of temporal experience see Prosser 2016 and Le Poidevin 2007. Additionally, Paul 2010 writes about illusionism about temporal passage. Parfit 1984 is a good place to start for issues related to cross-temporal bias.

Introductions Good introductory texts on the philosophy of time include Baron & Miller 2018Le Poidevin & MacBeath 1993Power 2021Van Fraassen 1970, and Bardon 2013.
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  1. The Practical Arrow.Huw Price - forthcoming - Australasian Philosophical Review.
    Ismael traces our sense that the past is fixed and the future open to what she calls ‘the practical arrow’ – ‘the sense that we can affect the future but not the past.’ In this piece I draw a sharper distinction than Ismael herself does between agents and mere observers, even self-referential observers; and I use it to argue that Ismael’s explanation of the practical arrow is incomplete. To explain our inability to affect the past we need to appeal to (...)
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  2. An old GBT’s new solution.Nihel Jhou - forthcoming - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy.
    An advantage of a typical growing block theory (GBT) or moving spotlight theory (MST) is that it can easily account for tenseless or tensed truths involving past entities. The paper indicates what is required for such an advantage is that a particular like a rock doesn’t change its status of being a rock when turning past from being present. But a typical GBT or MST, which implies that a particular’s turning past from being present doesn’t make a physical difference, faces (...)
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  3. Do We Perceive Reality?John Klasios - 2022 - arXiv.
    The cognitive scientist Donald Hoffman argues that we don't perceive reality: spacetime, objects, colors, sounds, tastes, and so forth, are all merely an interface that we evolved to track evolutionary fitness rather than to perceive truths about external reality. In this paper, I expound on his argument, then I extend it, primarily, by looking at key ideas in physics that are quite germane to it. Among the topics in physics that I discuss are black holes, the holographic principle, string theory, (...)
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  4. Some features of physical systems without time and dynamics (in English).Andrey Smirnov - manuscript
    Physical systems without time and dynamics have been considered. The principle of how to construct spacetime in a physical system without time and dynamics has been proposed. It has been found what can be objects in such a spacetime, and what can be an interaction between such objects. Within the framework of the considered class of systems, answers to the following problems of philosophy and physics have been found: the nature of consciousness and the connection of body and consciousness (mind-body (...)
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  5. An Argument for Temporal A-theories Based on the Calculus of Qualia 12 23 2022.Paul Merriam - manuscript
    We give an argument for temporal A-theories based on the calculus of qualia.
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  6. Some Features of Structures Without Time and Dynamics (In Russian).Andrey Smirnov - manuscript
    Structures without time and dynamics are considered. The principle is proposed how to build space-time in a structure without time and dynamics. It is found what can be objects in such a space-time, and what can be an interaction between such objects.Within the framework of the considered class of structures, answers were found to the following problems of philosophy and physics: the nature of consciousness and the connection between the body and consciousness (mind-body problem), nature of time, anthropic principle and (...)
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  7. Existential Inertia and Classical Theistic Proofs.Joseph Schmid & Dan Linford - 2023 - Cham, Switzerland: Springer.
    This book critically assesses arguments for the existence of the God of classical theism, develops an innovative account of objects’ persistence, and defends new arguments against classical theism. The authors engage the following classical theistic proofs: Aquinas’s First Way, Aquinas’s De Ente argument, and Feser’s Aristotelian, Neo-Platonic, Augustinian, Thomistic, and Rationalist proofs. The authors also provide the first systematic treatment of the ‘existential inertia thesis’. By connecting the thesis to relativity theory and recent developments in the philosophy of physics, and (...)
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  8. La cosmologie iranienne comme matrice dialectique du monde occidental.Laurent Regis - 2021 - In Métaphysique du temps chez Aristote II. Métabiologie du mouvement entéléchique. Paris: Villegagnons-Plaisance Editions. pp. 127-157.
    Puisque nous n'avons pu trouver un fondement logique à la dialectique, nous avons alors compris que la dialectique était historique. Il ne restait plus alors qu'à trouver la culture d'origine que nous avons localisée en Perse. -/- Since we could not find a logical foundation for the dialectic, we then understood that the dialectic was historical. All that remained was to find the culture of origin, which we located in Persia.
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  9. Mach's Denial of Absolute Time.Matias Slavov - forthcoming - History of Philosophy Quarterly.
    Mach repudiated Newton’s argument for absolute time. He denied there is such a thing as time itself that exists independently of any external change. In doing so, Mach failed to appreciate Newton’s scientific practice. Absolute time is intrinsically related to Newton’s laws of motion and the method of fluxions. Commentators have noted similarities between Mach’s rejection of Newtonian time and his rejection of the independent existence of atoms. In this article, it shall be argued that the juxtaposition of absolute time (...)
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  10. What Time is Not.Thomas Seissl - forthcoming - International Journal of the Platonic Tradition:1-28.
    In one of the most famous but equally obscure passages in the Timaeus, Plato describes the generation of time and the heavens. The “moving image of eternity” (37d5) is commonly read as Plato’s most general characterisation of time. Rémi Brague famously challenged the traditional interpretation on linguistic grounds by claiming that Plato actually did not conceive of time as an image (εἰκών) but rather as a number (ἀριθμός). In this paper, I shall claim that this controversy is by no means (...)
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  11. Irreversible time physics.I. N. Taganov - 2013 - Saint Petersburg: [Publisher Not Identified].
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  12. Le temps (qui passe?).Étienne Klein - 2013 - Montrouge: Bayard.
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  13. Az idő kairologikus jellege a heideggeri hermeneutikai fenomenológiában.Erzsébet Kerekes - 2013 - Kolozsvár: Bolyai Társaság.
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  14. Durata e storia: aspetti di una nuova percezione del tempo agli inizi del Novecento.Giuseppe Guida - 2013 - Roma: Aracne editrice S.r.l..
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  15. Le désir-temps: essai sur le temps suspendu.Thierry Giraud - 2013 - Paris: L'Harmattan.
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  16. Obraznai︠a︡ sostavli︠a︡i︠u︡shchai︠a︡ kont︠s︡epta time: diakhronicheskiĭ aspekt = The Metaphorical Component of the Concept TIME: Diachronic Approach.M. A. Fedorov - 2013 - Ulan-Udė: Izd-vo BGU.
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  17. La mélodie du tic-tac: et autres bonnes raisons de perdre son temps.Pierre Cassou-Noguès - 2013 - Paris: Flammarion.
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  18. Ist die Zeit aus den Fugen?: Aufstieg und Fall des Zeitregimes der Moderne.Aleida Assmann - 2013 - München: Carl Hanser Verlag.
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  19. Tempora multa: il governo del tempo.Luca Basso (ed.) - 2013 - Milano: Mimesis.
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  20. Pensare il tempo: tra scienza e filosofia.Umberto Curi & Luca Taddio (eds.) - 2013 - Milano: Mimesis.
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  21. Mutações: o futuro não é mais o que era.Adauto Novaes & Antonio Cicero (eds.) - 2013 - São Paulo, SP: Edições Sesc SP.
    This work proposes an investigation on the perception of time in contemporary times from the philosophical inspirations of classical thinkers. The essays present a brief foray into the nature of time, analyze the relationships men have established with the future throughout history, and those that we can establish today with the future when revolutionary ideals and the very idea of hope are down when and technoscience, biotechnology and the digital revolution are intended to give an answer to everything and to (...)
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  22. Vremi︠a︡ kak universalʹnai︠a︡ mirovozzrencheskai︠a︡ kategorii︠a︡ tradit︠s︡ionnoĭ kulʹtury: (na materiale obsko-ugorskikh i samodiĭskikh narodov).V. I. Spodina - 2014 - Khanty-Mansiĭsk: I︠U︡grafika.
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  23. Métachronologie: pour suite de Vladimir Jankélévitch.Pierre Michel Klein - 2014 - Paris: Les Éditions du Cerf.
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  24. Intenzionalità ed esperienza del tempo.Luigi Cimmino - 2014 - Passignano s.T.: Aguaplano.
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  25. Tijd? Altijd!: Studium generale 2013-2014.Sofie Vandamme (ed.) - 2014 - Gent: Academia Press.
    Dit jaarboek van het Studium Generale van de Hogeschool Gent bevat essays van de sprekers die tijdens het academiejaar 2013-2014 een lezing hebben gehouden over het jaarthema "Tijd? Altijd!". In deze bundel wordt stilgestaan bij de vraag hoe allerlei vormen van en opvattingen over tijd aan de orde zijn in de maatschappij, in de kunsten en in het wetenschappelijk onderzoek.0Deze lezingenreeks werd samengesteld en georganiseerd door Sofie Vandamme i.s.m. Jeroen Cluckers. Het boek bevat bijdragen van Sofie Vandamme, Benno Barnard, Mark (...)
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  26. La filosofia nello spazio del pensiero.Flavia Santoianni (ed.) - 2014 - Roma: Carocci editore.
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  27. A wedge of time : futures in the present and presents without futures in Maputo, Mozambique.Morten Nielsen - 2014 - In Laura Bear (ed.), Doubt, conflict, mediation: the anthropology of modern time. Wiley.
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  28. The reign of terror of the big cat : bureaucracy and the mediation of social times in the Indian Himalayas.Nayanika Mathur - 2014 - In Laura Bear (ed.), Doubt, conflict, mediation: the anthropology of modern time. Wiley.
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  29. The time it takes : temporalities of planning.Simone Abram - 2014 - In Laura Bear (ed.), Doubt, conflict, mediation: the anthropology of modern time. Wiley.
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  30. Rethinking reproductive politics in time, and time in UK reproductive politics, 1978-2008.Sarah Franklin - 2014 - In Laura Bear (ed.), Doubt, conflict, mediation: the anthropology of modern time. Wiley.
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  31. Historical narrative, mundane political time, and revolutionary moments : coexisting temporalities in the lived experience of social movements.Sian Lazar - 2014 - In Laura Bear (ed.), Doubt, conflict, mediation: the anthropology of modern time. Wiley.
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  32. For labour : Ajeet's accident and the ethics of technological fixes in time.Laura Bear - 2014 - In Doubt, conflict, mediation: the anthropology of modern time. Wiley.
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  33. Post-industrial times and the unexpected : endurance and sustainability in Germany's fastest shrinking city.Felix Ringel - 2014 - In Laura Bear (ed.), Doubt, conflict, mediation: the anthropology of modern time. Wiley.
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  34. Immanent anthropology : a comparative study of "process" in contemporary France.Matt Hodges - 2014 - In Laura Bear (ed.), Doubt, conflict, mediation: the anthropology of modern time. Wiley.
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  35. Doubt, conflict, mediation : the anthropology of modern time.Laura Bear - 2014 - In Doubt, conflict, mediation: the anthropology of modern time. Wiley.
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  36. Doubt, conflict, mediation: the anthropology of modern time.Laura Bear (ed.) - 2014 - Malden, MA: Wiley.
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  37. L'énigme du temps: vers une philosophie du sablier.Laurence Vanin - 2015 - Paris: Éditions Detrad aVs.
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  38. El tiempo enroscado.Igor Quevedo Aragay - 2015 - Sevilla, España: Punto Rojo Libros.
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  39. Le temps des philosophes.Jean Piwnica - 2015 - Paris: L'Harmattan.
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  40. De tijd, het schrift, het verschil: filosofisch testament.Samuel IJsseling - 2015 - Kalmthout: Uitgeverij Polis.
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  41. Ritme: op zoek naar een terugkerende tijd.Marli Huijer - 2015 - Amsterdam: Boom.
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  42. Time: a philosophical introduction.James Harrington - 2015 - New York: Bloomsbury Academic.
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  43. Fare pace con il tempo: nemico e amico.Francesco Gioia - 2015 - Città del Vaticano: Libreria editrice vaticana.
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  44. Durch die Nacht: eine Naturgeschichte der Dunkelheit.Ernst Peter Fischer - 2015 - München: Siedler.
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  45. Mensch und Zeit.Gerald Hartung (ed.) - 2015 - Wiesbaden: Springer VS.
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  46. Macchine e futuro: una sfida per l'uomo.Gennaro Cicchese (ed.) - 2015 - Roma: Città nuova.
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  47. De tempore: l'enigma dell'ora.Anselmo Aportone, Gianna Gigliotti & Tiziana Suarez-Nani (eds.) - 2015 - Napoli: Bibliopolis.
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  48. Czas w muzyce i kulturze.Ludwik Bielawski - 2015 - Warszawa: Instytut Sztuki Polskiej Akademii Nauk.
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  49. Filosofii︠a︡ vremeni.V. B. Ustʹi︠a︡nt︠s︡ev - 2016 - Saratov: Izdatelʹstvo Saratovskogo universiteta.
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  50. Immagini del tempo: da metropoli a cosmopoli.Franco Rella - 2016 - Milano: Bompiani.
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