Skip to main content
    • Aa
    • Aa

Time and Existence

  • Genevieve Lloyd (a1)
  • DOI:
  • Published online: 01 January 2009

Much debate in contemporary metaphysics of time has centred on whether or not tense is essential to the understanding of a temporal reality. The rival positions in this debate are associated with two very different pictures of the relationship between time and existence. Those who argue for the dispensability of tense see the phenomenon of tense as an epistemological accretion which infects our perception of the world but is in no way essential to a complete description of reality. With respect to existence, things past and future are supposed to be on an equal footing with things present. Thus the Quinean ‘time slice’ ontology, which sees the world as a four-dimensional entity in space-time, repudiates any ontological significance to the differences between past, present and future. For the Quinean, what differences we see between past, present and future existents pertain to our limited mode of access to reality. In a perception which grasped the world as it really is tense differences would have no place. In this respect the Quinean position resembles Spinoza's claim in the Ethics that in so far as the mind conceives a thing under the dictates of reason it is affected equally, whether the idea be of a thing future, past or present.

Linked references
Hide All

This list contains references from the content that can be linked to their source. For a full set of references and notes please see the PDF or HTML where available.

M. Dummett , ‘A Defence of McTaggart's Proof of the Unreality of Time’, Philosophical Review 69 (1960)

Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

  • ISSN: 0031-8191
  • EISSN: 1469-817X
  • URL: /core/journals/philosophy
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *