The B-theory of time is the name given to one of two positions regarding philosophy of time. B-theorists argue that the flow of time is an illusion, that the past, present and future are equally real, and that time is tenseless. This would mean that temporal becoming is not an objective feature of reality.
The labels, A-theory and B-theory, first coined by Richard Gale in 1966, are derived from the analysis of time and change developed by Cambridge philosopher J. M. E. McTaggart in "The Unreality of Time" (1908), in which events are ordered via a tensed A-series or a tenseless B-series. It is popularly assumed that the A theory represents time like an A-series, while the B theory represents time like a B-series. The terms A and B theory are sometimes used as synonyms to the terms presentism and eternalism, but arguably presentism does not represent time being like an A-series since it denies that there is a future and past in which events can be located.
Events (or "times"), McTaggart observed, may be characterized in two distinct, but related, ways. On the one hand they can be characterized as past, present or future, normally indicated in natural languages such as English by the verbal inflection of tenses or auxiliary adverbial modifiers. Alternatively events may be described as earlier than, simultaneous with, or later than others. Philosophers are divided as to whether the tensed or tenseless mode of expressing temporal fact is fundamental. Some philosophers have criticised hybrid theories, where one holds a tenseless view of time, but asserts that the present has special properties, as falling foul of McTaggart's paradox. For a thorough discussion of McTaggart's paradox, see R. D. Ingthorsson (2016).
The debate between A-theorists and B-theorists is a continuation of a metaphysical dispute reaching back to the ancient Greek philosophers Heraclitus and Parmenides. Parmenides thought that reality is timeless and unchanging. Heraclitus, in contrast, believed that the world is a process of ceaseless change or flux. Reality for Heraclitus is dynamic and ephemeral. Indeed, the world is so fleeting, according to Heraclitus, that it is impossible to step twice into the same river. The metaphysical issues that continue to divide A-theorists and B-theorists concern the reality of the past, the reality of the future, and the ontological status of the present.
The difference between A-theorists and B-theorists is often described as a dispute about temporal passage or 'becoming' and 'progressing'. B-theorists argue that this notion is purely psychological. Many A-theorists argue that in rejecting temporal 'becoming', B-theorists reject time's most vital and distinctive characteristic. It is common (though not universal) to identify A-theorists' views with belief in temporal passage. Another way to characterise the distinction revolves around what is known as the principle of temporal parity, the thesis that contrary to what appears to be the case, all times really exist in parity. The A-theory (and especially presentism) denies that all times exist in parity, while the B-theory insists all times exist in parity.
B-theorists such as D. H. Mellor and J. J. C. Smart wish to eliminate all talk of past, present and future in favour of a tenseless ordering of events, believing the past, present, and future to be equally real, opposing the idea that they are irreducible foundations of temporality. B-theorists also argue that the past, present, and future feature very differently in deliberation and reflection. For example, we remember the past and anticipate the future, but not vice versa. B-theorists maintain that the fact that we know much less about the future simply reflects an epistemological difference between the future and the past: the future is no less real than the past; we just know less about it.
The B-theory of time has received support from the physics community. This is likely due to its compatibility with physics and the fact that many theories such as special relativity, the ADD model, and brane cosmology, point to a theory of time similar to B-theory.
Many of special relativity's now-proven counter-intuitive predictions, such as length contraction and time dilation, are a result of this. Relativity of simultaneity is often taken to imply eternalism (and hence a B-theory of time), where the present for different observers is a time slice of the four dimensional universe. This is demonstrated in the Rietdijk–Putnam argument and additionally in an advanced form of this argument called the Andromeda paradox, created by mathematical physicist Roger Penrose.
It is therefore common (though not universal), for B-theorists to be four-dimensionalists, that is, to believe that objects are extended in time as well as in space and therefore have temporal as well as spatial parts. This is sometimes called a time-slice ontology.
In 'Presentism and the Space-Time Manifold', Dean Zimmerman notes that A-theory is 'almost certainly a minority view among philosophers', while B-theory has 'achieved broad acceptance'; despite this there are still a number of philosophers who maintain opposition for B-theory.
Earlier B-theorists argued that one could paraphrase tensed sentences (such as "the sun is now shining") into tenseless sentences (such as "on September 28, the sun shines") without loss of meaning. Later B-theorists argued that tenseless sentences could give the truth conditions of tensed sentences or their tokens. Quentin Smith states that "now" cannot be reduced to descriptions of dates and times, because all date and time descriptions, and therefore truth conditionals, are relative to certain events. Tensed sentences, on the other hand, do not have such truth conditionals. The B-theorist could argue that "now" is reducible to a token-reflexive phrase such as "simultaneous with this utterance," yet Smith states that even such an argument fails to eliminate tense. One can think the statement "I am not uttering anything now," and such a statement would be true. The statement "I am not uttering anything simultaneous with this utterance" is self-contradictory, and cannot be true even when one thinks the statement. Finally, while tensed statements can express token-independent truth values, no token-reflexive statement can do so (by definition of the term "token-reflexive"). Quentin Smith claims that current proponents of the B-theory argue that the inability to translate tensed sentences into tenseless sentences does not prove the A-theory of time.
Noted logician and philosopher Arthur Prior (originator of tense logic) has also drawn a distinction between what he calls A-facts and B-facts. The latter are facts about tenseless relations, such as the fact that the year 2025 is 25 years later than the year 2000. The former are tensed facts, such as the Jurassic age being in the past, or the end of the universe being in the future. Prior asks the reader to imagine having a headache, and after the headache subsides, saying "thank goodness that's over." Prior argues that the B-theory cannot make sense of this sentence. It seems bizarre to be thankful that a headache is earlier than one's utterance, anymore than being thankful that the headache is later than one's utterance. Indeed, most people who say "thank goodness that's over" are not even thinking of their own utterance. Therefore, when people say "thank goodness that's over," they are thankful for an A-fact, and not a B-fact. Yet, A-facts are only possible on the A-theory of time. (See also: Further facts.)
Opponents also charge the B-theory with being unable to explain persistence of objects. The two leading explanations for this phenomenon are endurantism and perdurantism. The former states that an object is wholly present at every moment of its existence. The latter states that objects are extended in time and therefore have temporal parts. Hales and Johnson explain endurantism as follows: "something is an enduring object only if it is wholly present at each time in which it exists. An object is wholly present at a time if all of its parts co-exist at that time." Under endurantism, all objects must exist as wholes at each point in time. However, an object such as a rotting fruit will have the property of being not rotten one day and being rotten on another. On eternalism, and hence the B-theory, it seems that one is committed to two conflicting states for the same object. The spacetime (Minkowskian) interpretation of relativity adds an additional problem for endurantism under the B-theory. On the spacetime interpretation, an object may appear as a whole at its rest frame. On an inertial frame, however, that same object will have proper parts at different positions, and therefore will have different parts at different times. Hence, it will not exist as a whole at any point in time, contradicting the thesis of endurantism.
Opponents will then charge perdurantism with having numerous difficulties of its own. First, it is controversial whether perdurantism can be formulated coherently. An object is defined as a collection of spatio-temporal parts, which are defined as pieces of a perduring object. If objects have temporal parts, this leads to difficulties. For example, the rotating discs argument asks the reader to imagine a world containing nothing more than a homogeneous spinning disk. Under endurantism, the same disc endures despite that it is rotating. The perdurantist supposedly has a difficult time explaining what it means for such a disk to have a determinate state of rotation. Temporal parts also seem to act unlike physical parts. A piece of chalk can be broken into two physical halves, but it seems nonsensical to talk about breaking it into two temporal halves. Chisholm argued that someone who hears the bird call "Bob White" knows "that his experience of hearing 'Bob' and his experience of hearing 'White' were not also had by two other things, each distinct from himself and from each other. The endurantist can explain the experience as "There exists an x such that x hears 'Bob' and then x hears 'White'" but the perdurantist cannot give such an account. Peter van Inwagen asks the reader to consider Descartes as a four-dimensional object that extends from 1596–1650. If Descartes had lived a much shorter life, he would have had a radically different set of temporal parts. This diminished Descartes, he argues, could not have been the same person on perdurantism, since their temporal extents and parts are so different.
In philosophy, A series and B series are two different descriptions of the temporal ordering relation among events. The two series differ principally in their use of tense to describe the temporal relation between events. The terms were introduced by the Scottish idealist philosopher John McTaggart in 1908 as part of his argument for the unreality of time, but since then they have become widely used terms of reference in modern discussions of the philosophy of time.Astrarium
An astrarium, also called a planetarium, is the mechanical representation of the cyclic nature of astronomical objects in one timepiece. It is an astronomical clock.BPL (time service)
BPL is the call sign of the official long-wave time signal service of the People's Republic of China, operated by the Chinese Academy of Sciences, broadcasting on 100 kHz from CAS's National Time Service Center in Pucheng County, Shaanxi at 34°56′54″N 109°32′34″E, roughly 70 km northeast of Lintong, along with NTSC's short-wave time signal BPM on 2.5, 5.0, 10.0, and 15.0 MHz.
BPL broadcasts LORAN-C compatible format signal from 5:30 to 13:30 UTC, using an 800 kW transmitter covering a radius up to 3000 km.Chronometry
Chronometry (from Greek χρόνος chronos, "time" and μέτρον metron, "measure") is the science of the measurement of time, or timekeeping. Chronometry applies to electronic devices, while horology refers to mechanical devices.
It should not to be confused with chronology, the science of locating events in time, which often relies upon it.Common year
A common year is a calendar year with 365 days, as distinguished from a leap year, which has 366. More generally, a common year is one without intercalation. The Gregorian calendar, (like the earlier Julian calendar), employs both common years and leap years to keep the calendar aligned with the tropical year, which does not contain an exact number of days.
The common year of 365 days has 52 weeks and one day, hence a common year always begins and ends on the same day of the week (for example, January 1 and December 31 fell on a Sunday in 2017) and the year following a common year will start on the subsequent day of the week. In common years, February has four weeks, so March will begin on the same day of the week. November will also begin on this day.
In the Gregorian calendar, 303 of every 400 years are common years. By comparison, in the Julian calendar, 300 out of every 400 years are common years, and in the Revised Julian calendar (used by Greece) 682 out of every 900 years are common years.Endurantism
Endurantism or endurance theory is a philosophical theory of persistence and identity. According to the endurantist view, material objects are persisting three-dimensional individuals wholly present at every moment of their existence, which goes with an A-theory of time. This conception of an individual as always present is opposed to perdurantism or four dimensionalism, which maintains that an object is a series of temporal parts or stages, requiring a B-theory of time. The use of "endure" and "perdure" to distinguish two ways in which an object can be thought to persist can be traced to David Lewis.Eternalism (philosophy of time)
Eternalism is a philosophical approach to the ontological nature of time, which takes the view that all existence in time is equally real, as opposed to presentism or the growing block universe theory of time, in which at least the future is not the same as any other time. Some forms of eternalism give time a similar ontology to that of space, as a dimension, with different times being as real as different places, and future events are "already there" in the same sense other places are already there, and that there is no objective flow of time. It is sometimes referred to as the "block time" or "block universe" theory due to its description of space-time as an unchanging four-dimensional "block", as opposed to the view of the world as a three-dimensional space modulated by the passage of time.Eternity
Eternity in common parlance is an infinitely long period of time. In classical philosophy, however, eternity is defined as what exists outside time while sempiternity is the concept that corresponds to the colloquial definition of eternity.
Eternity is an important concept in many religions, where the god or gods are said to endure eternally. Some, such as Aristotle, would say the same about the natural cosmos in regard to both past and future eternal duration, and like the eternal Platonic forms, immutability was considered essential.Event (philosophy)
In philosophy, events are objects in time or instantiations of properties in objects.HD2IOA
HD2IOA is the callsign of a time signal radio station operated by the Navy of Ecuador. The station is located at Guayaquil, Ecuador and transmits in the HF band on 3.81 and 7.6 MHz.The transmission is in AM mode with only the lower sideband (part of the time H3E and the rest H2B/H2D) and consists of 780 Hz tone pulses repeated every ten seconds and voice announcements in Spanish.
While sometimes this station is described as defunct, reception reports of this station on 3.81 MHz appear regularly at the Utility DX Forum.Intercalation (timekeeping)
Intercalation or embolism in timekeeping is the insertion of a leap day, week, or month into some calendar years to make the calendar follow the seasons or moon phases. Lunisolar calendars may require intercalations of both days and months.Minute
The minute is a unit of time or angle. As a unit of time, the minute is most of times equal to 1⁄60 (the first sexagesimal fraction) of an hour, or 60 seconds. In the UTC time standard, a minute on rare occasions has 61 seconds, a consequence of leap seconds (there is a provision to insert a negative leap second, which would result in a 59-second minute, but this has never happened in more than 40 years under this system). As a unit of angle, the minute of arc is equal to 1⁄60 of a degree, or 60 seconds (of arc). Although not an SI unit for either time or angle, the minute is accepted for use with SI units for both. The SI symbols for minute or minutes are min for time measurement, and the prime symbol after a number, e.g. 5′, for angle measurement. The prime is also sometimes used informally to denote minutes of time.Parmenides
Parmenides of Elea (; Greek: Παρμενίδης ὁ Ἐλεάτης; fl. late sixth or early fifth century BC) was a pre-Socratic Greek philosopher from Elea in Magna Graecia (Greater Greece, which included Southern Italy). Parmenides has been considered the founder of metaphysics or ontology and has influenced the whole history of Western philosophy. He was the founder of the Eleatic school of philosophy, which also included Zeno of Elea and Melissus of Samos. Zeno's paradoxes of motion were to defend Parmenides' view.
The single known work by Parmenides is a poem, On Nature, only fragments of which survive, containing the first sustained argument in the history of philosophy. In it, Parmenides prescribes two views of reality. In "the way of truth" (a part of the poem), he explains how all reality is one, change is impossible, and existence is timeless, uniform, and necessary. In "the way of opinion", Parmenides explains the world of appearances, in which one's sensory faculties lead to conceptions which are false and deceitful, yet he does offer a cosmology.
Parmenides philosophy has been explained with the slogan "whatever is is, and what is not cannot be". He is also credited with the phrase out of nothing nothing comes. He argues that "A is not" can never be thought or said truthfully, and thus despite appearances everything exists as one, giant, unchanging thing. This is generally considered one of the first digressions into the philosophical concept of being, and has been contrasted with Heraclitus's statement that "No man ever steps into the same river twice" as one of the first digressions into the philosophical concept of becoming. Scholars have generally believed that either Parmenides was responding to Heraclitus, or Heraclitus to Parmenides.
Alexius Meinong held a view similar to Parmenides, that even the "golden mountain" is real because it can be talked about. The rivalry between Heraclitus and Parmenides has been re-introduced in discussions over the A theory and B theory of time.Perdurantism
Perdurantism or perdurance theory is a philosophical theory of persistence and identity. The perdurantist view is that an individual has distinct temporal parts throughout its existence. Perdurantism is usually presented as the antipode to endurantism, the view that an individual is wholly present at every moment of its existence.The use of "endure" and "perdure" to distinguish two ways in which an object can be thought to persist can be traced to David Kellogg Lewis (1986). However, contemporary debate has demonstrated the difficulties in defining perdurantism (and also endurantism). For instance, the work of Ted Sider (2001) has suggested that even enduring objects can have temporal parts, and it is more accurate to define perdurantism as being the claim that objects have a temporal part at every instant that they exist. Currently there is no universally acknowledged definition of perdurantism. Others argue that this problem is avoided by creating time as a continuous function, rather than a discrete one.
Perdurantism is also referred to as "four-dimensionalism" (by Ted Sider, in particular) but perdurantism also applies if one believes there are temporal but non-spatial abstract entities (like immaterial souls or universals of the sort accepted by David Malet Armstrong).Philosophical presentism
Philosophical presentism is the view that neither the future nor the past exist. In some versions of presentism, this view is extended to timeless objects or ideas (such as numbers). According to presentism, events and entities that are wholly past or wholly future do not exist at all. Presentism contrasts with eternalism and the growing block theory of time which hold that past events, like the Battle of Waterloo, and past entities, like Alexander the Great's warhorse Bucephalus, really do exist, although not in the present. Eternalism extends to future events as well.Static interpretation of time
The static interpretation of time is a view of time which arose in the early years of the 20th century from Einstein's special relativity and Hermann Minkowski's extension of special relativity in which time and space were famously united in physicists' thinking as spacetime.
Essentially the universe is regarded as akin to a reel of film – which is a wholly static physical object – but which when played through a movie projector conjures a world of movement, color, light and change. In the static view our whole universe – our past, present, and future are fixed parts of that reel of film, and the projector is our consciousness. But the 'happenings' of our consciousness have no objective significance – the objective universe does not happen, it simply exists in its entirety, albeit perceived from within as a world of changes.
The alternative, and commonly assumed view, is that the world unfolds in existence, that our present has some wider physical significance, because the universe evolves in step with it.
The static view is the simpler in that all that is held to exist is the physical ordering of the universe. All that there is at every time simply exists. The unfolding view requires an additional quality to the universe – that besides the physical ordering there is some quality of coming into and out of existence.
One can argue that the onus is therefore upon those who propose it, that the world unfolds, and that this additional quality they hold to (absent from special relativity) is indeed a physical feature of the world. There is however as yet no proof, experiment, or measurement, to show that our conscious experience of an unfolding present has any objective physical significance, or that the universe is anything other than static.
The static view is however commonly rejected for psychological, not scientific reasons, because it leads to a fatalistic or "fixed" conclusion about human existence – our 'past', 'present', and 'future' being what they are – there is no contingency in the world and no possibility of 'altering' or creating the future through some act of will – the future exists. It is simply that our consciousness has not yet reached it.Tempus fugit
Tempus fugit is a Latin phrase, usually translated into English as "time flies". The expression comes from line 284 of book 3 of Virgil's Georgics, where it appears as fugit inreparabile tempus: "it escapes, irretrievable time". The phrase is used in both its Latin and English forms as a proverb that "time's a-wasting". Tempus fugit, however, is typically employed as an admonition against sloth and procrastination (cf. carpe diem) rather than a motto in favor of licentiousness (cf. "gather ye rosebuds while ye may"); the English form is often merely descriptive: "time flies like the wind", "time flies when you're having fun".
The phrase's full appearance in the Georgics is:
The phrase is a common motto, particularly on sundials and clocks.Tomorrow (time)
Tomorrow is a temporal construct of the relative future; literally of the day after the current day (today), or figuratively of future periods or times. Tomorrow is usually considered just beyond the present and counter to yesterday. It is important in time perception because it is the first direction the arrow of time takes humans on Earth.Yesterday (time)
Yesterday is a temporal construct of the relative past; literally of the day before the current day (today), or figuratively of earlier periods or times, often but not always within living memory.
|Philosophy of time|
and use of time