If the Past, Present, and Future all exist in exactly the same way, then every single moment would be a ‘Now’ moment for me. it would also mean that me being dead in the future is equally real in the exact same way as me being alive right Now is real. And since the Past is as real as the Present and future, me being alive in the Past is equally real as me being alive right Now.

If that is the case, then does that mean after I eventually grow old and die, in which my brain will decay and I will no longer be conscious, in other words I cease to exist.

Wouldn’t that mean that I will be alive again but with no memory of what happened since me in the Past is alive in exactly the same way as I am right ‘Now’? if so then under the Block Universe life does repeat and it proves Nietzsche’s “Eternal Return” theory to be true?

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  • But in block theory the future is not equal to the past and the present. It doesn't materially exist. But Einstein's theory, it's said, presupposes eternalism where all 3 are materially existent.
    – rus9384
    Aug 26, 2018 at 11:04
  • You can't step outside of time and then talk about what comes before or after something else. Events in the block are still unique. No event occurs 'again', and nothing is 'still going on' or 'happening again' from the perspective outside the universe.
    – user9166
    Dec 26, 2018 at 19:35

5 Answers 5


I was born in 1954; let's suppose I die in 2041. From a presentist point of view, I'm alive now, I've been alive since 1954, and I'll probably die sometime. From an eternalist point of view, I'm an entity that exists from 1954 to 2041 within certain spatial boundaries. My experience of, say, 5 PM CST on March 1, 2019, is real no matter when you look from.

A recurrence is when the same (or similar) event happens at two different times. This is true in presentism (it happened a year ago and it's happening now) and in eternalism (it happens in 2017 and in 2018). For eternal recurrence, I'd also have to exist at infinitely many 87-year blocks in time, or we'd need a new dimension of time to have a recurrence in. If the eternal Universe was present in 1954i and in 2041i, that would be a recurrence, but I don't think that's what you mean.


There is perhaps some confusion here. Nietzsche's notebooks and archives demonstrate that he came to idea of the Eternal Return while studying the debate about the heat death of the Universe. The historical context is nicely given in Helge Kragh, Entropic Creation: religious contexts of thermodynamics and cosmology, (London 2008); a good study of his notes is Paolo D'Iorio, The Eternel Return, genesis and interpretetion, Lexicon Philosophicorum, 2014. The key argument was that if the Universe has not yet reached thermal equilibrium, then it exists since a finite time, i.e. it has been created. The counter argument is that the Universe evolves in a cycles but as it was thought to be finite, sooner or later cycles would repeat themselves.

There is a wikiquote Etrenal return which is about "the existence of an actual immortality, that of motion: what has once moved is enclosed and eternalized in the total union of all being like an insect in amber."that is perhaps like a Block Universe but I believe it is misleadingly pasted under this title.


Block theory of Universe is not a physical concept, it is a philosophical one. Therefore, Attributing it to Einstein is severely misguided.

That said, stating every instance Past, Present, and future exists independently in a block, without temporality does not necessarily, not even contingently, imply repetition of temporality, let alone its recursion.

The most common view of temporal passage in Eternalism:

Some argue temporal change is the universe going through a projector like a film, and hence we get subjective notion of temporal change. Therefore, knowing this one can not, then deduce the film, or perhaps the passage of time, will, by its own nature, repeat after point.

Similarly on the growing-block theory every event past, and present are both ontologically equivalent; however, future events are not. Therefore, even considering such a view we can not deduce that after a point in time, the block will by its own nature grow into the same state as it had at an "instance" prior to that point.

Read more about:


Passage of time in B-theory

Growing block


If the block theory was proved, sure. But while the block, or A theory of time deals well with space & time, it struggles with quantum mechanics. To survive there, the block must be of many worlds, of all quantum outcomes. So that undermines eternal recurrence, because all outcomes and possibilities are real, in the larger space. In addition, many people criticise A theories, and it is rare to hear them advocated.

It should be noted that Nietzsche never argued for the literal truth of eternal return, he explicitly stated it as a thought experiment, aimed at psychological changes.

  • I am confused, I was getting told that the block universe does not mean that we would have an eternal return (cyclical existence), I was told that you will still be dead for eternity after death as if time is moving forwards in a straight line forever.
    – user202315
    Jul 27, 2018 at 10:31
  • Block universe means no 'now' is priveleged over another, so subjectively all moments are frozen in the block being 'nows'
    – CriglCragl
    Jul 27, 2018 at 14:34
  • So there is no such thing as eternal recurrence? and even if the block theory of time is real, would eternal recurrence be real in the way that it the same conscious me experiencing life again just as the eternal recurrence describes? or would I not be consciously re-experiencing life again and therefore there would be no eternal recurrence?
    – user202315
    Jul 28, 2018 at 8:26
  • Each moment would be subjectively eternal. Each momentary you would be constantly experiencing each. You would never reconnect with them though, taking your current experiences. You could argue that in one moment, your last, you will be 'frozen' with a view of the whole thing, though.
    – CriglCragl
    Jul 29, 2018 at 0:32
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    I voted this answer down because it contains two inaccuracies. First, the A-theory of time is usually understood to correspond to presentism or the growing block, rather than the block theory as suggested. Second, it is true that Nietzsche gave up on the metaphysical truth of eternal recurrence, but it is not true that he "never" argued for it. In fact he tried to do so and found that it didn't work. Sep 25, 2018 at 18:47

"The Passing Thought is itself the thinker," as William James said, and it is all "passing thoughts," but passing thoughts of a pre-established whole.

If you follow all the matter in the known universe back to its infinitely small starting point you come to the plausible threshold of Idealism, where, as James mystically suggested: "Consciousness is already there, waiting to be uncovered." The Greeks understood that something cannot come from nothing, and a circle has always been the highest and deepest affirmation (both spiritual and philosophical) of a pre-established ordered Universe (literally "one turning").

Parmenides' [Einsteinian Block Universe] "Sphere" "from a centerpoint equally matched everywhere" has the Heraclitean "Hidden Harmony" of Pythagorean "Eternal Recurrence". My book, The Illusion of Will, Self, and Time: William James's Reluctant Giide to Enlightenment (SUNY Press), culminates in Eternal Recurrence. What it means for you or any "I" to be alive or dead in an eternally recurring Block Universe is the theme of my Journal of Consiousness Exploration and Research article, "What Dies? Eternalism and the Afterlife in William James".


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