Review of “Experiencing Time”

Experiencing time coverMy review of Simon Prosser’s “Experiencing Time” is now published online-first in Metascience. A full-text, view-only version of the review is available through Springer’s SharedIt Initiative here. The book is available through amazon and OUP. To sum up, I think it is an opinionated and interesting book that is sure to stimulate discussion on the topic. There is a lot I disagree with, especially if you favour the A-theory of time, but I recommend it.


3 responses to “Review of “Experiencing Time”

  1. Professor,

    A question from a rank amateur in philosophy.

    I understand that the “growing block” theory of time treats the present moment as the moving side of a block, moving to the right (let us say), while everything to the left of the block remains both static and real. I understand that there is a standard objection to this theory based on relativity theory. That is, if we accept post-Einsteinian physics, and we try as well to accept the growing block theory, we’ll end up committed to the proposition that certain facts are both real and unreal, both already-a-fact and yet-to-be-determined depending on where one stands, or how fast one is moving, or something. (Excuse my chunky phrasing of the issue.)

    My question then is, do you know of any adherents of the growing block theory who have addressed this objection, and who have reconciled to their satisfaction that theory with relativity?

    Thanks for your attention.


  2. Hi Christopher. I think your question is perfectly well formed. And, yes, I think that if we interpret the theory of relativity as implying that there is no absolute now in the ontological sense (as opposed to implying the epistemological conclusion that there is no privileged frame that could tell us what the state of the world is like at any given time) then the Growing Block view has exactly the problem you describe. But, then again, similar problems face every theory of time I know of. The theory of relativity, after all, doesn’t say directly that there is no absolute now, but rather that there is no absolute simultaneity (from which it is then inferred that there is no absolute now). So, The B-theory of time, which says that the only temporal relations are ‘simultaneous with’, ‘later than’, and ‘earlier than’, have the same problem with things both being and not being simultaneous with, earlier than, and later than (with the exception then that the order of causally connected events is the same in all frames of reference). The only philosophers that defend the Block view as far as I know are Correia and Rosenkrantz, but I am not sure they deal with this particular problem. Oliver Pooley has argued that it faces the problems you describe, but I have only seen work in progress that isn’t published. Here you can find an abstract to that paper: All the best, Valdi


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