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I take an eternalist to be someone who believes there are no past/future things, it all exists "at once". I understand the position as it applies to concrete objects, but I am not so clear on what the position says about past/future events and properties of past-ness/futurity as such.

For instance, some eternalists appears to say that there is no absolute past event like "I slept at 10 yesterday." But there is a presently past event like "It is the case that I slept at 10 yesterday" (in fact, they even appeal to events like these to account for causations, which they take to be synchronic). But what makes it the case that "I slept at 10 yesterday" is false, whereas "it is the case that I slept at 10 yesterday" is true?

A similar worry applies to properties of pastness and futurity as well. On the one hand, an eternalist wants to say these properties are uninstantiated by concrete objects. On the other hand, they do not want to deny those properties as fictional themselves (thus, they are not like say "square circularity" or "magical"). But are they then admitting uninstantiated universals into their ontologies?

  • I am not sure this position is correct. I thought a presentist is the one who believes past stays in the past, future in the future and right now there is only now. The only meaning of past and future tenses is through present: my brain has an info that I slept at 10 yesterday. – rus9384 Oct 7 '18 at 15:30
  • If you are interested in these type questions, or doing research, you may want to add B. Croce to your reading list. Specifically, his philosophy of history. The Wikipedia does not do him justice, but for what it's worth. en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Benedetto_Croce – Gordon Oct 8 '18 at 21:46
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    I changed "presentist" to "eternalist" everywhere, because the question does not make sense otherwise. On the usual reading eternalists think that pastness and futuness are indeed "fictions", or rather subjective illusions, of "living through" the time. Objectively speaking, it is all there at once. Of course, they still need to account for time passage by other means, which is why many think that the eternalism/presentism debate is purely verbal with no substance, see Lombard's Time for a Change. – Conifold Oct 9 '18 at 0:03
  • @Conifold Well, if one believes there is some kind of universal archives where everything that happens is stored and some kind of universe maintainer that can open them at any moment, it is more than a purely verbal dispute. But I'm sure there are not many advocates of this or similar views. – rus9384 Oct 9 '18 at 0:35
  • @Conifold sorry but I did mean presentist rather than eternalist. I think what you mean by eternalist is what I take to be the B-theorist (one who believes there is no passage of time). Of course most if not all B-theorists are eternalists. But the presentism/eternalism debate is an ontological dispute of what there is, whereas the A-theroy/B-theory debate is a metaphysical one regarding the nature of time. That is why an A-theorist can also be an eternalist (e.g. the moving spotlight view). And I am puzzled by whether a presentist who does not believe in the existence of past/future objects – discretizer Oct 9 '18 at 0:40

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