Time

Edited by Sam Baron (Australian Catholic University)
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 2012), 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. Eight Arguments for First-Person Realism.David Builes - forthcoming - Philosophy Compass.
    According to First-Person Realism, one's own first-person perspective on the world is metaphysically privileged in some way. After clarifying First-Person Realism by reference to parallel debates in the metaphysics of modality and time, I survey eight different arguments in favor of First-Person Realism.
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  2. Dated Truths Without Dated Powers.Giacomo Giannini & Donatella Donati - forthcoming - Erkenntnis.
    Dispositionalism is the theory of modality according to which all (metaphysical and natural) modal truths are made true by some actual irreducibly dispositional property. The relationship between Dispositionalism and time is yet to be satisfactorily explored. In this paper we contribute to this task by examining how Dispositionalism deals with ‘dated truths’: propositions involving a specific time, e.g. “It might rain at 12.30”. We examine two possible accounts: the first, 'Dated Manifestations Strategy', is the idea that powers are very fine-grained, (...)
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  3. McTaggart and Oakeley on the Reality of Time.Matyas Moravec - forthcoming - In Nina Emery (ed.), The Routledge Companion to Philosophy of Time. New York: Routledge.
    J. M. E. McTaggart’s (1866-1925) argument for the unreality of time, first published in 1908, set the decisive framework for discussions about time in 20th-century analytic philosophy. This chapter provides an outline of the argument and situates it within the wider context of McTaggart’s philosophical system. It then provides an overview of a critique of McTaggart’s philosophical views on time by Hilda Oakeley (1867-1950). Oakeley was McTaggart’s contemporary and her critiques—while firmly based within their shared commitment to idealism—prefigure many later (...)
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  4. The Many-Faceted Enigma of Time: A Physicist's Perspective.Bernard Carr - 2023 - In The Mystery of Time (13th Symposium of Bial Foundation: Behind and Beyond the Brain). Porto: Bial Foundation. pp. 97-118.
    The problem of time involves an overlap between physics, philosophy, psychology and neuroscience. My talk will discuss the role of time in physics but also emphasize that physics may need to expand to address issues usually regarded as being in the other domains. I will first review the mainstream physics view of time, as it arises in Newtonian theory, relativity theory and quantum theory. I will then discuss the various arrows of time, the most fundamental of which is the passage (...)
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  5. Aristotle’s “Now” and the Definition of Time: Method and Exegesis in Simplicius’ Interpretation of Physics IV.10.Thomas Seissl - forthcoming - History of Philosophy & Logical Analysis.
    Physics IV.10 (217b30–218a30) is pivotal in Aristotle’s discussion of time, preceding his own account from IV.11 onward. Aristotle presents three puzzles about the existence of time with reference to the “Now”. Modern interpretations often view this section as an aporetic prelude with Aristotle’s failure to provide explicit solutions. This paper examines Simplicius’ alternative interpretation, which draws upon the theory of proof and the syllogistic model from the Posterior Analytics. Simplicius contends that the arguments’ failure lies in their inability to fit (...)
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  6. Laws of Physics.Eddy Keming Chen - manuscript
    Despite its apparent complexity, our world seems to be governed by simple laws of physics. This volume provides a philosophical introduction to such laws. I explain how they are connected to some of the central issues in philosophy, such as ontology, possibility, explanation, induction, counterfactuals, time, determinism, and fundamentality. I suggest that laws are fundamental facts that govern the world by constraining its physical possibilities. I examine three hallmarks of laws--simplicity, exactness, and objectivity--and discuss whether and how they may be (...)
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  7. The tyranny of time, Einstein or Bergson?Charles Nordmann - 1925 - London,: T.F. Unwin. Edited by E. E. Fournier D'Albe.
    The hour-galss.--Anomalies of the seasons and days.--The reform of the calendar.--The stars and the daughters of the sun.--The masters of time at work.--Einstein or Bergson?--Strange consequences of the relativity of time.
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  8. Times, new and old.Evander Bradley McGilvary - 1928 - Berkeley, Calif.: University of California press.
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  9. Durée et simultanéité.Henri Bergson - 1968 - Paris,: Presses universitaires de France.
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  10. Tiempo y eternidad.Arturo García Astrada - 1971 - Madrid: Gredos.
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  11. Tempo, communicação, liberdade.Antenor Batista - 1971 - Rio de Janeiro,: Distribuição exclusiva: Editôra Civilização Brasileira.
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  12. Het mysterie tijd.P. J. Zwart - 1971 - Assen,: Van Gorcum.
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  13. Significato e struttura del tempo. Testo bilingue di Franco Spisani.Franco Spisani - 1972 - Bologna: Azzoguidi.
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  14. Le Temps.Jean Pucelle - 1967 - Paris,: Presses universitaires de France.
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  15. Temps et mémoire.Jean Monge - 1972 - [Roanne]: Horvath.
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  16. La legge universale della differenziazione e del funzionalismo nel tempo e nell'eternità.Roberto Guzzo - 1972 - [Roma],: Noi pubblicisti. Edited by Francesco Pestellini.
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  17. Zeit und Zeiterfahrung.Peter Bieri - 1972 - [Frankfurt a. M.]: Suhrkamp.
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  18. Le cycle de l'humanité adamique.Jean Phaure - 1973 - Paris,: Dervy-Livres.
    Cet ouvrage de référence est une vaste synthèse qui présente la doctrine traditionnelle des cycles développée et appliquée à notre temps. La cyclologie, ou théorie du temps cyclique, est une conception que l'on retrouve dans la plupart des sociétés archaïques. Selon cette vision, l'écoulement du temps n'est pas linéaire, l'histoire passant pour obéir éternellement à des cycles immuables amenant un retour périodique de l'humanité face aux mêmes situations, cycles dont la durée varie selon les traditions. La plus répandue et la (...)
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  19. Timpul în știință și filosofie.Gheorghe Bîrsan - 1973 - București,: Editura științifică.
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  20. Jikan no ronri.Takeo Sugihara - 1974
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  21. Jikan to wa nani ka.Kōji Fushimi & Mutsuo Yanase (eds.) - 1974
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  22. Zeit und Zahl: Studien z. Zeittheorie bei Platon, Aristoteles, Leibniz u. Kant.Gernot Böhme - 1974 - Frankfurt am Main: K. Klostermann.
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  23. Philosophy of Space‐Time Physics.Craig Callender & Carl Hoefer - 2002 - In Peter Machamer & Michael Silberstein (eds.), The Blackwell Guide to the Philosophy of Science. Oxford, UK: Blackwell. pp. 173–198.
    This chapter contains sections titled: Relationism, Substantivalism and Space‐time Conventionalism about Space‐time Black Holes and Singularities Horizons and Uniformity Conclusion.
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  24. Kodai Nihonjin no jikan ishiki.Gen Tanaka - 1975
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  25. El tiempo en perspectiva: introducción a una filosofía del tiempo.Georges Delacre - 1975 - [Río Piedras]: Editorial Universitaria, Universidad de Puerto Rico.
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  26. Jikan.Shizuo Takiura - 1976
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  27. Jikan to ningen.Hajimu Nakano - 1976
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  28. Jikanron.Gōichi Miyake - 1976
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  29. Czas społeczny.Mieczysław Krajewski - 1976 - Warszawa: Wiedza Powszechna.
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  30. Zeitlichkeit und Entfremdung in Hermeneutik und Theologie.Enrico Castelli & Franz Theunis (eds.) - 1976 - Hamburg-Bergstedt: H. Reich.
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  31. The 2D Past.Graeme A. Forbes - 2023 - In Kasia M. Jaszczolt (ed.), Understanding Human Time. Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 60-84.
    The ‘When Am I?’ problem, introduced by Bourne 2002, 2006, and Braddon-Mitchell 2004, creates a problem for thinking that the past is just like the present, and responses by Forrest 2004 and Forbes 2016, in which activities and processes are distinctive of the present, suggest that the past is settled. This chapter argues that the ‘When am I?’ problem arises because it takes tense metaphysically seriously but not aspect. The solution of invoking processes and activities takes aspect as seriously as (...)
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  32. El misterio del tiempo.Joaquín Vallejo Arbeláez - 1977 - [Bogotá: Plaza & Janes].
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  33. Chetyre kont︠s︡ept︠s︡ii vremeni v filosofii i fizike.I︠U︡. B. Molchanov - 1977 - Moskva: Nauka.
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  34. Hoi ammoi tou chronou.Giōrgos N. Balanos - 1977
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  35. 1. Walking Backwards into the Future: The Conception of Time in the Ancient Near East.Stefan Maul - 2008 - In Tyrus Miller (ed.), Given world and time: temporalities in context. CEU Press. pp. 13-14.
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  36. Introduction.Tyrus Miller - 2008 - In Given world and time: temporalities in context. CEU Press. pp. 1-12.
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  37. Filosofskie aspekty problemy vremeni: sbornik nauchnykh trudov.Boris Andreevich Erunov (ed.) - 1978 - Leningrad: Leningradskiĭ gos. pedagog. in-t im. A. I. Gert︠s︡ena.
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  38. Jikan to ningen.Satoshi Watanabe - 1979 - Edited by Watanabe, Dorotea & [From Old Catalog].
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  39. Tiempo y temporalidad.José Molero Cruz - 1979 - [Córdoba: Monte de Piedad y Caja de Ahorros de Córdoba].
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  40. Sigan non.Kyu-yŏng Kim - 1979 - Sŏul: Sŏgang Taehakkyo Chʻulpʻanbu.
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  41. Przeszłość, teraźniejszość, przyszłość: studium filozoficzne.Zdzisław Augustynek - 1979 - Warszawa: Państ. Wydaw. Naukowe.
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  42. Zeit und Kultur: Geschichte d. Zeitbewusstseins in Europa.Rudolf Wendorff - 1980 - Wiesbaden: Westdeutscher Verlag.
    Wenn man die besonders in den letzten fiinf Jahrhunderten sehr dynami­ sche, sich noch immer beschleunigende Entwicklung Europas bzw. der westlichen Welt und die kulturkritische Diskussion der Gegenwart verste­ hen will, ist es notwendig, auch die Rolle zu erkennen, die dabei das Ver­ haltnis zum Phanomen Zeit spielt. In vielen Einzelbeobachtungen ist dies gespiirt und nachgewiesen worden, aber bisher fehlt eine zusammenfas­ sende Darstellung, wie sie hier versucht wird. Der Kulturbereich, den man mit dem konstituierenden Vorspiel im Orient in geschichtlicher (...)
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  43. Sot︠s︡ialʹnoe vremi︠a︡.V. P. I︠A︡kovlev - 1980 - Rostov-na-Donu: Izd-vo Rostovskogo universiteta. Edited by V. E. Davidovich.
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  44. Temps et destin.Marcel Conche - 1980 - [Villers-sur-Mer]: Editions de Mégare.
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  45. al-Zamān fī al-fikr al-dīnī wa-al-falsafī al-qadīm.Ḥusām Muḥyī al-Dīn Ālūsī - 1980 - Bayrūt: al-Muʼassasah al-ʻArabīyah lil-Dirāsāt wa-al-Nashr.
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  46. Mi az idő?Béla A. Balázs (ed.) - 1980 - Budapest: Gondolat.
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  47. Filosofskie aspekty problemy vremeni: Mezhvuzovskiĭ sbornik nauchnykh trudov.Boris Andreevich Erunov (ed.) - 1980 - Leningrad: LGPI.
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  48. Od dimenzija vremena do celovitih sagledavanja i istina na delu.Dušan Nedeljković - 1981 - Pozarevac: "Prosveta".
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  49. Jikan no hikaku shakaigaku.Yūsuke Maki - 1981 - Tokyo: Iwanami Shoten.
    原始共同体、古代日本、ヘレニズムとヘブライズム、近代社会―文化と社会の形態によって異なる時間の感覚と観念を比較検討し、近代的自我に特有の時間意識がどのように形成されたかを、自然と人間、共同体と都市、市 場と貨幣等々の関係のなかで解明する。近代世界の自己解放の運動の一環を担う比較社会学の深い洞察に満ちた労作。.
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  50. Tidsbegrebet: et metafysisk essay.Poul Lübcke - 1981 - København: Gad.
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