The Philosophical Society's third international event will be held in Trier
on Saturday 17th of November.
Trier is the oldest city in Germany and the birthplace of Karl Marx (his
house is now a museum). A great city to visit and indulge in philosophy with
fellow philosophy enthusiasts!
The event provides an opportunity for members to present and debate papers
on the topic of Time. If you would like to offer a talk, please send an
abstract of 250 words to Alan Xuereb ([email protected]) as soon as
possible, but no later than 10th June.
Please email Alan ([email protected]) or Fauzia
([email protected]) to express an interest in attending, since places
will be limited to 25. We hope to offer the event at a cost of no more than
£40, covering room hire and coffee breaks. There will also be an
optional restaurant dinner on Saturday.
We will provide recommendations for travel arrangements and hotels. Our
local organiser, Alan Xuereb, and his wife Silke, are looking forward to
welcoming you and have offered to take those interested on a free guided tour
of the main sites.
What is the nature of time? Is it real? Is it just perception? Can we
reverse time? Can we fast forward time? Is time fundamental or is it emerging
from something more fundamental? How can something so familiar be so
A philosopher who asks, "What is time?" does not want a definition
of the word. What is wanted is a description of the most important features of
time, and knowledge of whether it exists and how it might be reliably detected
if it does exist.
Philosophers of time would like to resolve as many issues as they can from
the list of philosophical issues mentioned in the opening paragraph. Some
issues are intimately related to others so that it is reasonable to expect a
resolution of one to have deep implications for another. There is an important
subset of related philosophical issues about time divides philosophers of Time
into two broad camps, the A-camp and the B-camp.
Members of the A-camp often say that McTaggart's A-theory is the
fundamental way to view time. Events are always changing as they move farther
away from the present, the now is objectively real and so is time's flow.
Ontologically they accept either presentism or growing-past
theory. Advocates of a growing-past agree with the presentists that the
present is special ontologically, but they argue that, in addition to the
present, the past is also real and is growing bigger all the time.
Members of the B-camp usually say instead that McTaggart's B-theory is the
fundamental way to view time. Events never undergo real change; the now
is not objectively real and neither is time's flow. Ontologically they accept
eternalism (there are no objective ontological differences among the
past, present and future, just as there is no objective ontological difference
between here and there) and the block-universe theory (reality is a
single block of spacetime). The shrinking-tree view, like the
growing-block view, posits a moving absolute present and a concrete past.
You may be as philosophically bold as you like in tackling these issues.
Talks relating to fatalism, reductionism, Platonism, time travel, different
time dimensions, or any other time related issues are also welcome.
Aristotle, De Interpretatione, in Aristotle, The Complete Works of
Aristotle, Princeton University Press, 1984.
Physics, in Aristotle, The Complete Works of Aristotle, Princeton
University Press, 1984.
Bigelow, John, 1996, "Presentism and Properties," in James
Tomberlin (ed.), Philosophical Perspectives (Volume 10: Metaphysics),
Oxford: Blackwell, pp. 35-52.
Carroll, John W. and Ned Markosian, An Introduction to Metaphysics.
Cambridge University Press, 2010.
This introductory, undergraduate metaphysics textbook contains an
excellent chapter introducing the metaphysical issues involving time,
beginning with the McTaggart controversy.
Hausheer, Herman. "St. Augustine's Conception of Time." The
Philosophical Review, vol. 46, no. 5, 1937, pp. 503-512.
Hawking, Stephen. A Brief History of Time, Updated and Expanded
Tenth Anniversary Edition, Bantam Books, 1996.
A leading theoretical physicist provides introductory chapters on
space and time, black holes, the origin and fate of the universe, the arrow of
time, and time travel. Hawking suggests that perhaps our universe originally
had four space dimensions and no time dimension, and time came into existence
when one of the space dimensions evolved into a time dimension. He calls this
space dimension "imaginary time."
Husserl, Edmund. On the Phenomenology of the Consciousnss of Internal
Time. Translated by J. B. Brough. Originally published 1893-1917.
Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers, 1991.
The father of phenomenology discusses internal time consciousness.
McTaggart, J. M. E. The Nature of Existence, Cambridge University Press,
Chapter 33 restates more clearly the arguments that McTaggart
presented in 1908 for his A series and B series and how they should be
understood to show that time is unreal. Difficult reading. The argument that a
single event is in the past, is present, and will be future yet it is
inconsistent for an event to have more than one of these properties is called
"McTaggart's Paradox." The chapter is renamed "The Unreality of Time," and is
reprinted on pp. 23-59 of (Le Poidevin and MacBeath 1993).
Oxford Studies in Metaphysics, volume 7 Edited by Karen Bennett and Dean W.
Putnam, Hilary. "Time and Physical Geometry," The Journal of
Philosophy, 64 (1967), pp. 240-246.
Comments on whether Aristotle is a presentist and why Aristotle was
wrong if Relativity is right.
Russell, Bertrand. "On the Experience of Time," Monist, 25 (1915),
The classical tenseless theory.
Russell, Bertrand. A History of Western Philosophy. New York: Simon and
Various entries on time, vide index, ideal for an overview.
The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Time; edited by Craig Callender, OUP,
Thorne, Kip S., 1994, Black Holes and Time Warps, New York: W.W.
Von Leyden, W. "Time, Number, and Eternity in Plato and
Aristotle." The Philosophical Quarterly (1950-), vol. 14, no. 54, 1964,