Presentism and Consciousness
McKinnon (Neil)
Source: Australasian Journal of Philosophy, 2003, 81:3, 305-323
Paper - Abstract

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Author’s Introduction

  1. Presentism draws you in. When you first become acquainted with the presentist view of time it’s hard not to concur that this is how time must be.
  2. What is it that makes the presentist theory of time so compelling? Its appeal is often said to reside in the way that it illuminates the temporal aspect of human experience. Psychologically, there is something special about the present. All of our thoughts, feelings and actions occur there. Past joys and hurts become less palpable and visit us more and more infrequently as they recede into distant memory, while past visions and sounds ebb into dullness and pallor. The future is more elusive and even less tangible than the distant past. We often try to sniff it out, striving to locate it, yet not for what it is, only for what it will be. But present awareness is fresh, immediate, lustrous, and sometimes, exciting in a way that past awareness never is.
  3. Given the psychological uniqueness of the present it is therefore tempting to imbue this specialness with ontological import — to make this psychological centrepoint a centrepoint of our metaphysics. The presentist does this, but not merely by elevating the metaphysical status of present states of affairs above all other temporal states of affairs. Rather, other temporal states of affairs are ontologically excluded.
  4. The primary aim of this paper is to present a new difficulty for presentism. I will argue that, contrary to appearances, a central feature of our psychology, namely conscious experience, embodies a significant obstacle to presentism. I claim that this obstacle can be overcome only if the presentist is willing to embrace some form of mind/body dualism. And insofar as mind/body dualism is unattractive, so too is presentism.


For the full text, see McKinnon - Presentism and Consciousness.

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