On the Existential side of the Eternalism-Presentism Dispute
Orilia (Francesco)
Source: Manuscrito: Revista Internacional de Filosofia, Campinas (Brazil): Vol. 39, no. 4, pp. 225-254, Oct - Dec 2016
Paper - Abstract

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Author’s Abstract

  1. The current analytical debate on time is full of attempts to adjudicate from a purely theoretical standpoint among competing temporal ontologies.
  2. Little attention has instead been devoted to the existential attitudes -- emotional or ethical -- that may lurk behind, or ensue from, the endorsement of one of them.
  3. Some interesting opinions have however been voiced regarding the two most prominent views in the arena, namely eternalism and presentism; it has been said that the former is nourished by a fear of death, or more generally by a desire of preservation for whatever we find precious and valuable, and that the latter is fuelled by a propensity to reap whatever fruits the present brings, as enshrined in the carpe diem motto.
  4. This paper explores such a territory by focusing on the reality of past sentience, whether joyful or painful, and on the open future.
  5. The first part contrasts the reality of past sentience that comes with eternalism with the denial of this reality that follows from presentism, and argues that from an emotional, or perhaps even moral, standpoint the latter is preferable to the former.
  6. The second part clarifies why the eternalist must renounce the open future, whereas presentism is consistent with it, and considers how its rejection or acceptance, as the case may be, could be emotionally, or even morally, significant for our conception of ourselves as free agents.
  7. The conclusion offers a tentative proposal regarding which temporal ontology is superior from an existential perspective and some ruminations on the impact that all this may have on the theoretical side of the issue.


For the full text, see Orilia - On the Existential side of the Eternalism-Presentism Dispute.

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