I have a question about time.

What philosophical arguments can be presented for the reality of time?

And I would like sources to be posted too. It is confusing me.

  • See plato.stanford.edu/entries/time Chap. 4 and 5. I think this explains it well enough, if not, feel free to ask.
    – CaZaNOx
    Jan 5 '18 at 4:08
  • Thankyou that was very informative. I do habe another related question. What do you think is the strongest philosophical argument for A theory? The reason I ask is because this is central to an argument I use alot. Jan 5 '18 at 4:37
  • I think this highly depends on your notion of time, which you should state. I think invoking a C-Series(Not directional time) to purpose a change of relations between Events can solve the issue. Since you don't get an infinit regress by stating that an event was f.e. past at a certain place in time and is futur in another place in time. Basically you disagree that you have to rely on other A properties to explain. See chap. 4 parg. 6 of plato.stanford.edu/entries/time
    – CaZaNOx
    Jan 5 '18 at 6:43
  • An A theory of time that is inconsistent with mainstream physics is going to be difficult to defend. An A theory that is consistent is going to require a lot of nuance to set up, and its descriptions will involve discussing the relevant physics. You're also going to, for such A theories, have to give up on absolute time (namely, you have to be comfortable giving up on absolute ordering of space-like events). That can get pretty lengthy, just to come up with a defensible A theory. ...
    – H Walters
    Jan 7 '18 at 7:08
  • ...given that a defensible argument (which is a reasonable criteria for "strong") requires nuance to just set up, which may make it unlike "run of the mill" A theories; and that you're asking for this as it's central to an argument you use a lot, it's not entirely clear if a blind presentation of such would help. What is this argument you use and how would you fit an A theory of time into it?
    – H Walters
    Jan 7 '18 at 7:10

Time was real for Newton, it flowed equably and universally. There is a now, a present time, throughout the whole of the cosmos.

Time is also real psychologically, we feel the passage of time.

It was the advent of Einsteins theory of Special Relativity that denoted time to an illusion. This was due to the loss of the principle of simultaneity. This meant that there was not a now, and that all of spacetime was real, and so the passage of time is unreal.

Lee Smolin, a physicist, who once thought time was unreal, has recanted, and has written a whole book where he argues for the reality of time, Time Reborn. I'm in the middle of reading it, so I can't summarise his arguments here.

  • I don't think it's accurate to say that 'the advent of Einstein's theory of Special Relativity that denoted time to an illusion.' SR showed time to be relative to the observer's reference frame (this also applied to space as well). But that's not the same as saying that it's an illusion, which sounds a lot like saying it's not real.
    – njspeer
    Apr 12 '18 at 2:11
  • @njspeer: it's a rhetorical use of language; which ought to be clear since the term 'illusion' isn't used in physics; the point I'm making is that simultaneity was understood to be such a key part of time that it's loss made time look like an illusion. In fact, the older idea of time did become an illusion. Apr 28 '18 at 19:04

On the Philosophy of Time

To begin, we outline that the notion of time is very complex.

A realist states that time has existence independent of our minds. An anti-realist states that time is an illusion; the notion of time is impressed upon us by our consciousness.

Immanuel Kant argued that time exists a priori notion that lets us comprehend space. This can be found in his book Critique of Pure Reason.

You can try Being and Time by Martin Heidegger.

McTaggart's 1908 The Unreality of Time covers the anti-realism arguments, thus covering the counter-arguments.

Leibniz stated that monads exist independently of the mind of the observer.

"Time is actually an integral part of the universe. As mentioned earlier, the very linear concept of time is tied into the concept of the Second Law of Thermodynamics, which is seen by many physicists as one of the most important laws in all of physics! Without time as a real property of the universe, the Second Law becomes meaningless.

What is true is that Einstein proved, through his theory of relativity, that time by itself was not an absolute quantity. Rather, time and space are united in a very precise way to form spacetime, and this spacetime is an absolute measure that can be used - again, in a very precise, mathematical way - to determine how different physical processes in different locations interact with each other.

This does not mean that everything is happening simultaneously, however. In fact, Einstein firmly believed - based on the evidence of his equations (such as E = mc2) - that no information can travel faster than the speed of light. Every point in spacetime is limited in the way it can communicate with other regions of spacetime. The idea that everything happens simultaneously is exactly counter to the results that Einstein developed." - https://www.thoughtco.com/does-time-really-exist-2699430

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