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3rd International Philsoc Event

in Trier (Germany), Saturday 17th November 2018

Call for speakers on


The Philosophical Society's third international event will be held in Trier on Saturday 17th of November.

Trier is the oldest city in Germany and the birthplace of Karl Marx (his house is now a museum). A great city to visit and indulge in philosophy with fellow philosophy enthusiasts!

The event provides an opportunity for members to present and debate papers on the topic of Time. If you would like to offer a talk, please send an abstract of 250 words to Alan Xuereb ([email protected]) as soon as possible, but no later than 10th June.

Please email Alan ([email protected]) or Fauzia ([email protected]) to express an interest in attending, since places will be limited to 25. We hope to offer the event at a cost of no more than £40, covering room hire and coffee breaks. There will also be an optional restaurant dinner on Saturday.

We will provide recommendations for travel arrangements and hotels. Our local organiser, Alan Xuereb, and his wife Silke, are looking forward to welcoming you and have offered to take those interested on a free guided tour of the main sites.


What is the nature of time? Is it real? Is it just perception? Can we reverse time? Can we fast forward time? Is time fundamental or is it emerging from something more fundamental? How can something so familiar be so elusive?

A philosopher who asks, "What is time?" does not want a definition of the word. What is wanted is a description of the most important features of time, and knowledge of whether it exists and how it might be reliably detected if it does exist.

Philosophers of time would like to resolve as many issues as they can from the list of philosophical issues mentioned in the opening paragraph. Some issues are intimately related to others so that it is reasonable to expect a resolution of one to have deep implications for another. There is an important subset of related philosophical issues about time divides philosophers of Time into two broad camps, the A-camp and the B-camp.

Members of the A-camp often say that McTaggart's A-theory is the fundamental way to view time. Events are always changing as they move farther away from the present, the now is objectively real and so is time's flow. Ontologically they accept either presentism or growing-past theory. Advocates of a growing-past agree with the presentists that the present is special ontologically, but they argue that, in addition to the present, the past is also real and is growing bigger all the time.

Members of the B-camp usually say instead that McTaggart's B-theory is the fundamental way to view time. Events never undergo real change; the now is not objectively real and neither is time's flow. Ontologically they accept eternalism (there are no objective ontological differences among the past, present and future, just as there is no objective ontological difference between here and there) and the block-universe theory (reality is a single block of spacetime). The shrinking-tree view, like the growing-block view, posits a moving absolute present and a concrete past.

You may be as philosophically bold as you like in tackling these issues. Talks relating to fatalism, reductionism, Platonism, time travel, different time dimensions, or any other time related issues are also welcome.

Recommended Readings:

Aristotle, De Interpretatione, in Aristotle, The Complete Works of Aristotle, Princeton University Press, 1984.

Physics, in Aristotle, The Complete Works of Aristotle, Princeton University Press, 1984.

Bigelow, John, 1996, "Presentism and Properties," in James Tomberlin (ed.), Philosophical Perspectives (Volume 10: Metaphysics), Oxford: Blackwell, pp. 35-52.

Carroll, John W. and Ned Markosian, An Introduction to Metaphysics. Cambridge University Press, 2010.

  • This introductory, undergraduate metaphysics textbook contains an excellent chapter introducing the metaphysical issues involving time, beginning with the McTaggart controversy.

Hausheer, Herman. "St. Augustine's Conception of Time." The Philosophical Review, vol. 46, no. 5, 1937, pp. 503-512.

Hawking, Stephen. A Brief History of Time, Updated and Expanded Tenth Anniversary Edition, Bantam Books, 1996.

  • A leading theoretical physicist provides introductory chapters on space and time, black holes, the origin and fate of the universe, the arrow of time, and time travel. Hawking suggests that perhaps our universe originally had four space dimensions and no time dimension, and time came into existence when one of the space dimensions evolved into a time dimension. He calls this space dimension "imaginary time."

Husserl, Edmund. On the Phenomenology of the Consciousnss of Internal Time. Translated by J. B. Brough. Originally published 1893-1917. Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers, 1991.

The father of phenomenology discusses internal time consciousness. McTaggart, J. M. E. The Nature of Existence, Cambridge University Press, 1927.

  • Chapter 33 restates more clearly the arguments that McTaggart presented in 1908 for his A series and B series and how they should be understood to show that time is unreal. Difficult reading. The argument that a single event is in the past, is present, and will be future yet it is inconsistent for an event to have more than one of these properties is called "McTaggart's Paradox." The chapter is renamed "The Unreality of Time," and is reprinted on pp. 23-59 of (Le Poidevin and MacBeath 1993).

Oxford Studies in Metaphysics, volume 7 Edited by Karen Bennett and Dean W. Zimmerman, 2012

Putnam, Hilary. "Time and Physical Geometry," The Journal of Philosophy, 64 (1967), pp. 240-246.

  • Comments on whether Aristotle is a presentist and why Aristotle was wrong if Relativity is right.

Russell, Bertrand. "On the Experience of Time," Monist, 25 (1915), pp. 212-233.

  • The classical tenseless theory.

Russell, Bertrand. A History of Western Philosophy. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1967.

  • Various entries on time, vide index, ideal for an overview.

The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Time; edited by Craig Callender, OUP, 2011

Thorne, Kip S., 1994, Black Holes and Time Warps, New York: W.W. Norton.

Von Leyden, W. "Time, Number, and Eternity in Plato and Aristotle." The Philosophical Quarterly (1950-), vol. 14, no. 54, 1964, pp. 35-52.

Internet Resources:

Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: Time     https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/time

Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy: Time     www.iep.utm.edu/time