Actually, A series is represented by sentences like:

She was home yesterday.

B series represented by sentences like:

She was home on the 24th of August, 2018.

A-theory represents time as A series. B-theory represents time as B-series. However, the distinction is unclear and even more it's unclear how is it even related to the properties of the universe.

What happens, though, if we change from time to something else? Let's use the sentence:

I saw you before.

Obviously, unless you actually saw every living human in the world, you cannot apply this sentence to every living human.

Now consider the sentence:

I saw [put name here] resident at [put address here] before.

In contrast, this sentence can be applied to any human. It may be uninformative but still will be correct if you are not lying. It also can in most cases look awkward if you say it to that person him-/herself, but correct yet.

So, these two things seem to be related. Can we say then that A and B series are not about time itself and not even about perception of it, but merely about the use of language? Did anyone (recognizable by academy) actually hold this position yet and scrutinized the issue?

Or, turning everything back, can A series and B series be extrapolated outside of time? To space, for example. Compare "100m to the left" with actual coordinates. The first would be similar to A series and second would be similar to B series. However, it's unclear what physical properties can be linked with these series.

1 Answer 1


I'm not sure I understood everything in your question, but the debate about the A- and B-theories of time is generally not taken to be just about how we use language. Even B-theorists will acknowledge the obvious facts that we use tensed sentences such as "I saw you before" and that these sentences are meaningful in the context of who uttered them to whom and when. But a B-theorist is inclined to argue that that's all there's to it and that there is no fundamental sense in which the present is different from past or future times; once we know who uttered the above sentence to whom, we can transform it into an equivalent sentence such as "Alice saw Bob before 2018/8/25." The A-theorist, on the other hand, will argue that there is something that that transformation leaves out.

  • 1
    So, is the extrapolation from time to anything else meaningless? For example, "100m to the left" versus actual coordinates sounds similar, but about space.
    – rus9384
    Commented Aug 25, 2018 at 19:31

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .