2009 | 16 | 3 | 363-380
Article title

DOES THE PAST EXIST ? (Existuje minulost?)

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The text is divided into two parts. In the first part, the author describes the eternalists' and presentists' positions as the two basic possible statements of the ontology of time (there exists only what is present - presentism - and there also actually exists both what is past and what is future). The eternalist position and the emphasis put on the actual existence of past and future events (expressed usually by the use of present tense or of some tenseless form of the verb) are thoroughly analysed in order to show that in fact, they end up making strings of symbols that are not correct statements. It is therefore necessary to step beyond these clumsy statements and try to understand more exactly the eternalist intuitions on a deeper, metaphysical level. That is the main concern of the second part of the text, in which the metaphysical implications of both positions are compared. At the end of the linguistical analysis in the first part, we got to a point where it may seem that presentism and eternalism are only different attempts to express that is in fact the same understanding of the nature of time, but in the metaphysical analysis that follows, it will turn out that they are not. Presentism and eternalism are shown to be two different ontological approaches of time in relation to space (time as a basically homogenous fourth dimension and time as something essentially different from space). The author then focuses on the consequences these two positions have especially on the concept of the present and of its flow through time. In the end, presentism and eternalism turn out to be completely different positions that - in parallel with the famous McTaggart's argument - claim a very strong reality of time on the one hand (presentism) or, on the other hand, its utter unreality (eternalism).
  • Jacques Joseph, Univerzita Karlova v Praze, Knihovna filosofie a religionistiky FF, nam. J. Palacha 2, 116 38 Praha 1, Czech Republic;
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