- Baker argues that ether presentism of eternalism alone fails to cohere with either physics or human experience.
- The A-theory, though in accord with our experience of time, appears incomplete or incompatible with modern physics. The B-theory, though apparently required for physics, cannot make sense of either the inexorable *flow" of time or the fact that you have less than a year to live or that the earth is now billions of years old.
- Baker proposes an intriguing theory of time — the "BA-theory" — which takes the B-series as basic. She writes, 'In the absence of self-conscious beings, events occur (tenselessly) at various times, and some events are (tenselessly) later than others. But there is no ongoing now" (32).
- Her account makes the A-series facts relative to the experiences of self-conscious beings: without such beings, "there are no A-series" (32). But rather than taking this feature as implying that the A-series is unreal or "merely mind-dependent," she argues that the existence of self-conscious beings is a genuine feature of reality that has implications for other general features of reality.
- She closes her essay with an extended discussion of the implications of the BA-theory for the relation between time and existence.
- Nonphilosophers, if they think of philosophy at all, wonder why people work in metaphysics. After all, metaphysics, as Auden once said of poetry, makes nothing happen. Yet some very intelligent people are driven to spend their lives exploring metaphysical theses. Part of what motivates metaphysicians is the appeal of grizzly puzzles (like the paradox of the heap or the puzzle of the ship of Theseus)2. But the main reason to work in metaphysics, for me at least, is to understand the shared world that we all encounter and interact with. And the shared world that we all encounter includes us self-conscious beings and our experience. The world that we inhabit is unavoidably a temporal world: the signing of the Declaration of Independence is later than the Lisbon earthquake; the Cold War is in the past; your death is in the future. There is no getting away from time.
- The ontology of time is currently dominated by two theories: Presentism, according to which “only currently existing objects are real,” and Eternalism, according to which “past and future objects and times are just as real as currently existing ones.” In my opinion, neither Presentism nor Eternalism yields a satisfactory ontology of time. Presentism seems both implausible on its face and in conflict with the Special Theory of Relativity, and Eternalism gives us no handle on time as universally experienced in terms of an ongoing now. (There is a third theory, the Growing Block Universe, according to which the past is real but the future is not; but it also conflicts with the Special Theory of Relativity.) So, I shall by-pass these theories for now and return to them later.
- This paper has two parts.
- Part I aims to develop a way to understand time that is adequate both to physics and to human experience. It begins with McTaggart’s framework of the A-series and the B-series — the framework that underlies both presentism and eternalism. I shall set out a theory (that I call ‘the BA theory’) that shows how the A- and B-series are related without reducing either to the other. Then, I shall draw out some metaphysical implications of the view.
- Part II is a discussion of time and existence; more particularly, it is a discussion of the relation between the temporal world and the non-temporal domain of the unrestricted existential quantifier. I shall argue that the world — though not the domain of the unrestricted existential quantifier — is ontologically different at different times.
Footnote 1: Taken from p. 11 of "Slater (Matthew H.) - Framing the Problems of Time and Identity", footnotes removed (for now).
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