Some people really believe that the past somehow physically exists even if it's past. Like the universe has some kind of container where all its past states are stored. On the other hand, there are people who believe the future also physically exists. Again, like there is a container from which events are chosen when the future becomes the present.

But both seem implausible: why should there even be a container? Then there seemingly is a solution - presentism. Yet, if the universe is continuous and events happen continuously and even non-simultaneosly, the present also can hardly be defined. According to my view, there are only causes and effects. Causes themselves, of course, can be the effects of other events and the effects can be causes of other events as well. And according to this theory when people talk about something as the past (relative to the event), they are talking about the causes. When they talk about the future, they talk about the effects.

Also, according to this theory, retrocausality makes no sense, because cause is always past, and the future can't affect the past as an effect can't affect it's cause by definition.

Therefore, this theory stands in contrast with eternalism, growing block theory and presentism. Is this a form of relationism? If not, is it already a recognized view in philosophy? Or is it something new to philosophy?

  • The 'container' could be a hypersurface google.co.uk/amp/s/www.universetoday.com/48619/… We still have to account for 'the moment', the span of influence over causal chains by mental processes
    – CriglCragl
    Jul 1, 2018 at 22:12
  • @CriglCragl, I know there are theories which assume such containers. I don't believe in them on Occam's razor rule. Computer does not store information of its past and future states, why should universe?
    – rus9384
    Jul 1, 2018 at 22:29
  • It isn't stored. It is a probability topology
    – CriglCragl
    Jul 2, 2018 at 9:56
  • @CriglCragl, indeed, given current state, it's possible to predict future state, and current state can give information on past states. Yet, the information on both the past and the future exists only in the present, while both the past and the future themselves do not exist anywhere. What I am saying there is no box out of which possible futures (like black and white balls) are taken.
    – rus9384
    Jul 2, 2018 at 10:13
  • There are limits on what can happen in the future, based on current distributions of energy, charge, & other conserved quantities. The range of outcomes given these initial boundary conditions, constitute the Many Worlds of quantum mechanics. In that view, they all happen, but only the one we occupy is ever subjectively real. It's like we are a bubble of energy carried on a ripple that is the spreading moment across the topology of possible worlds. Do you accept that some onfo about future states exists in your brain, and you use this to make choices?
    – CriglCragl
    Jul 2, 2018 at 13:27

1 Answer 1


What you're describing has been explored by William Lane Craig in his defense of the A theory of time, which is also what you get with "real becoming," "tensed time" and "tensed facts;" as opposed to "B theory of time," what Stephen Hawking calls "imaginary time" (in the mathematical / trigonometric sense using i as the imaginary number), or the supposed real physical existence of the past and the future.

Craig is probably most interested in what these views mean for the omniscience of God, but in the course of exploring this I think he probably covers the basic philosophical points.

Here's a summary of his article "Omniscience, Tensed Facts, and Divine Eternity":

A difficulty for a view of divine eternity as timelessness is that if time is tensed, then God, in virtue of His omniscience, must know tensed facts. But tensed facts, such as It is now t, can only be known by a temporally located being.

Defenders of divine atemporality may attempt to escape the force of this argument by contending either that a timeless being can know tensed facts or else that ignorance of tensed facts is compatible with divine omniscience. Kvanvig, Wierenga, and Leftow adopt both of these strategies in their various defenses of divine timelessness. Their respective solutions are analyzed in detail and shown to be untenable.

Thus, if the theist holds to a tensed view of time, he should construe divine eternity in terms of omnitemporality.

Another possible analog to "time is causation" would be Craig's defense of the real becoming of the universe, in which "logical time" can exist without creation.

  • I am not sure my point of view can be seen as A-theory. It says there are past and future events, I say there are none, only given state, that is constantly changing. B-theory also is wrong to me, as a calendar can be different amd tenseless statements also are relative. I would say there is only given state and entropy.
    – rus9384
    Jul 4, 2018 at 10:30
  • I still think A-theory is similar to what you are describing... according to A-theory, there are not past events, and there certainly are not future events. There once were past events, and there are memories and imprints of past events! But an event in the past is no more: it isn't. Jul 4, 2018 at 23:18
  • Well, then I am trying to understand the difference between A-theory and R-theory.
    – rus9384
    Jul 5, 2018 at 1:21
  • There's a nice introduction here (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A-series_and_B-series)... I think you will be pleased to see how well-developed these ideas are. Jul 5, 2018 at 6:23
  • I saw reduction from A to B. But B uses calendar and if we'll change calendar, B-theory fails. I see this conception as interesting one. But it does not look for alternatives. My position is another kind of series: A happened yesterday = A perceived as happened earlier, not happeneing right now. My position is that time exists only in perception. Look for 5 minute universe hypothesis.
    – rus9384
    Jul 5, 2018 at 8:04

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