Essay on The Ontological Question Of Reality Of The Past, Present And Future

Essay on The Ontological Question Of Reality Of The Past, Present And Future

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Philosophers are divided on the ontological question of the reality of the past, present and future. While nearly all contemporary philosophers agree that the present time exists, there has been substantial disagreement over the existence of the past and future. In this essay I will argue that it is not that case that only the present time exists. I will argue that conclusion by discussing the ideas put forward by Presentists. This will then be contrasted with the ideas given by Eternalists, with a brief look at the Growing Block Theory.
Presentism is the view that only present objects exist . According to this view; events and entities that are wholly past or wholly future, do not exist.
The ‘present’ in this sense is being used to mean ‘temporally present’ as opposed to ‘spatially present’. Therefore, if a Presentist were to make a list of all things present, I would be on that list as would the Leaning Tower of Pisa, however dinosaurs and the year 3000 would not. This is because the latter lack the property of being present and so according to this view, they are unreal.
An issue that some have found with this is that non-present objects are often talked about, however it is hard to distinguish what people are referring to when they talk about ‘dinosaurs’ and ‘the year 3000’ if no such objects exist, there is also a contentious issue with tensed sentences. Something that is less controversial is the fact that, presently, there are truths about entities from the past. Presentists and Eternalists disagree as to whether dinosaurs, a past entity, exist. However, they are in agreement that ‘dinosaurs existed’ is true. Eternalists have no issue in accounting for such claims to be true as dinosaurs are the truthmaker (the tru...

... middle of paper ...

... the past up ‘til the present moment.
The present moment, according to this view, divides the past from nothingness.
However, issues arise with this view. If only the past and the present exist and not the future, it’s possible that those in the past believe they are at ‘the edge of the block’, meaning we would not exist to them as we are in the relative future. This is comparative with us now as we believe we are currently at ‘the edge of the block’, however we could be someone else’s past.
To summarise while Presentism provides a good argument to suggest that only the present time exists, I found it to be weaker than the arguments offered by the Growing Block Theory and Eternalism as I found that these views are much more compelling and lead me to conclude that; the past, present and the future all exist. Therefore, I am in agreement with the Eternalist argument.

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