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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
    Commented 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
    Commented Dec 26, 2018 at 19:35
  • I don't see a circularity in the "geometry" of a block universe, a sine qua non for any kinda return, including an eternal one.
    – Hudjefa
    Commented Jan 22, 2023 at 12:42

7 Answers 7

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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.

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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:

Eternalism

Passage of time in B-theory

Growing block

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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.

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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.

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  • 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
    Commented 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
    Commented 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
    Commented 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
    Commented 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. Commented Sep 25, 2018 at 18:47
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No, you are attributing qualities to spacetime that are not required. Consider the analogy with space. You might suppose all of space exists, but you would not necessarily suppose that you exist throughout space. On the contrary, you will probably consider that you exist at a localised point in space. To be consistent you should hold the same view about spacetime- if you suppose all of spacetime exists, you should nontheless suppose that you exist at a localised point within spacetime, not spread out like a long sausage throughout time. In special and general relativity, a particle (and you are a collection of particles), follows a trajectory through 4d spacetime, so at any given moment it is at a point described by 4 coordinates- it is not spread through time. Now is analogous to 'here'. You move through spacetime just as you move through space, from one here to another.

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Assuming:

  • Time is infinite

  • Human needs logic to perceive passage of time

  • Time is the only element to rule the occurence state (has to be checked), otherwise it has to be able to bear infinity and bring indefinitely any feature (conf. reference C)

Let's say occurence is a random phenomenon happening randomly anywhere in any universe. Logical statement needs order and, without order, logic cant exist due to the nature of logic to build its statement regarding alteration between occurence current state and occurance previous state (A). Without existence of logic, logic cant be used or, says diffently, without abilily to assess alteration of a occurence's state, human cant perceived passage of time. So the only way to make logic exist, is that time put in order physics world in a manner to always put the first occurence state before the second occurence state for any timeframe belonging to infinity of time (B).

Assuming:

  • Time is finite

  • Block universe is finite

  • Only God can bear infinity and bring indefinitely any feature in every part of the Block universe (has to be check), holding this two features, the holder should be able to order any feature (conf. reference C)

  • The occurence state needs the same requirement to be ruled inside the whole universe and inside the Block universe (has to be check)

Let's say occurence is a random phenomenon happening randomly anywhere in the Block universe. Assuming time is finite like Block universe theory, the very first occurence will come from nothing and logic would be ineffective to explain the alteration from empty state of this occurence to the first state of this occurence and then any attempt to explain every followings states of this occurence is breaking apart because of requirement of logical statement between each state of this occurence (conf. reference A) (C). But somehow we need to explain how our existence should be ruled if logic isnt functionnal and enabled (conf. reference B). This entitie have to be able to put an order in place of time, reminding that time is finite and ineffective to enable logic statement between each state of an occurence, and the lifetime of this entitie has to be infinite in a way to nevers fail to etablish the first occurence and has to be able to enable the first logical statement associated (conf. references B and C) (D).

At the end, Block universe theory and Ethernal return theory are independant. Whatever happens inside the Block universe, any occurence different from the actual occurence (conf. reference A) cant prevent individual to live their life, the Block universe driven and ordered by the holder infinity feature (conf. reference D), the states of any occurence always stack up (conf. reference A) inside the Block universe until the end of the Block universe, and this same occurence can repeat itself infinitly (conf. reference C), because the stack can be infinitly done (conf. references A and C), where as indivual finitude perveices only novelty where time is a space feature inside the Block universe.

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  • How about human makes logic and thereby realises time exists (mind memory) and proceeds to measure physical time. He imagines abstract physical time as the block universe. The universe is perhaps beyond determination, include the singularities. With this indeterminacy, and the noumenal a fiction the order of knowing (ordo cognoscendi) applies. Commented Jan 20, 2023 at 20:10
  • (Post-OP's edit) Re. God. As I suggested, I would reverse your ontological orientation to being at the beginning, with what you know for sure: Humans make logic and measure things ... in the clearing (glade) of presencing. The being of that presencing is predicated on a truth that one might connect with God (a version). E.g. "How paltry is our knowledge of the gods, and yet how essential is their essential occurrence, and their withering, in the openness of the concealments of the "there," i.e., in the truth!..." Heidegger GA65 224 The essence of truth Commented Jan 21, 2023 at 20:14
  • Sir please check my analysis. Don't make any big mistakes this time. I'm sorry if something is irrelevant.
    – sourisooo
    Commented Jan 23, 2023 at 10:57
  • The human faculty of time is not like clock-time, second-by-second. It is more like block-time: you think the whole day (the whole film) not just a second, one frame. Perception, experience & logic happen with the human. Formulation of logic is bound with human time. Humans go to measure clock-time and create theoretical block universe or space-time constructs. Theories of the universe and infinity are the things we know least about. Experience and logic are close to us and we can know them better. In the beginning, Logos, logic, experience, search for truth. Commented Jan 24, 2023 at 10:11
  • A frame as whole part or block can always be immaterially divided. So, measure is required to make this distribution possible, and then, any piece of block could be nominated and designed as wished. The mesure is still a representation but time inherent to the block is very similar to human time: they got the same nature but differents values. The difference in the approach roots in the scale of time view: one from the lifetime of block universe and one from human point. This difference of value leads to result difference from calculation using this feature.
    – sourisooo
    Commented Jan 24, 2023 at 12:18
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"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 Guide to Enlightenment (SUNY Press), culminates in Eternal Recurrence, Nietzsche’s Eternal Reecurrence, which was neither for him, as is frequently misrepresented, either a mere thought experiment or derived from physics. It was as real for this Greek professor as it was for the Pythagoreans. As his biographer Halevy put it:
“the strong emotion of the discovery” left him “bathed in tears” for a long time. His beloved companion, Lou Andreas-Salomé,confirms the same: “To me the hours are unforgettable in which he first confided it to me, as a secret, as something he unspeakably dreaded to see verified . . . : only with a soft voice and with all signs of the deepest horror did he speak of it. And in fact he suffered so deeply from life that the certainty of the eternal recurrence of life had to entail something ghastly for him”.

What it means for 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".

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/312937757_What_Dies_Eternalism_and_the_Afterlife_in_William_James

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