Talk:Philosophical presentism

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Presentism today[edit]

The only philosopher I know who endorses this view is Mark Hinchliff. He has an article or two available through Jstor.

I am not sure where you get this information. If you think that, then you have not been doing much reading of any of the philosophies of time across the world: in India (Dharmakirti, etc.), France (Deleuze, etc.), America (WIlliam Craig, Quentin Smith's degree presentism, etc.), and so on. Atomist 03:46, 11 May 2006 (UTC)atomist

There are several modern philosophers that defends presentism. Arthur Prior, Alvin Plantinga, Dean Zimmerman, William Lane Craig, Craig Bourne, Thomas Crisp and Roderick Chísholm. Quentin Smiths degree presentism should not be confused with presentism. Smiths theory think of existence as coming in degrees. It is usefull to consider the use of "exist" as univocal between eternalists, presentist and growing blockers. Hinchliff is also a presentist.

I have a complaint about the article and that is that it confusses arguments against presentism and stating the view.

/RickardV 2006-11-04

No offense, but this article is rambling and, after the first two paragraphs, has little to do with presentism. What I suggest: paragraph 1 - define presentism. paragraph 2 - debate between presentists and eternalists. paragraph 3 - history of presentism. paragraph 4 - a survey of those who defend presentism, what motivates them, and how they argue for it. 04:30, 9 December 2006 (UTC)bradley

I like the proposal. I think the article would look something like the article on mereological essentialism. I don't right now have the time to write the pice on presentism. But if someone is willing?

--RickardV 18:38, 9 December 2006 (UTC)


Buddhists cannot be said to be presentists per se as they do not hold that any perceived object is actually real, past present or future. At least some schools of buddhism teach that perceptions are delusions of awareness unrelated to ultimate reality which is devoid of any rational descriptions or apprehensions. Experiences are facts, beliefs about them are mental fictionsJiohdi (talk) 14:27, 24 April 2008 (UTC)

Please read the link to the Oxford Handbook of Metaphysics before making comments/placing tags[edit]

There have been tags put on this page asking for expert input etc. Presentism in the philosophy of time is not described perfectly by the article but it is not so bad as to need tags to say it is inexpert. Before placing tags to undermine the article please read around the subject. Such tags should definitely be accompanied by a proper discussion on this talk page explaining why they have been placed, otherwise they are just malevolent. Geometer 20:06, 26 September 2006 (UTC)


I made a minor change, from the claim that presentism is probably incompatible with relativity to the claim that it is probably incompatible with relativity in conjunction with certain relatively uncontroversial philosophical claims. I don't think anyone would seriously suggest that there is an incompatability purely between the two theses: one at least needs claims such as 'what exists is not relative to a reference frame' etc.

there is no incompatibility with relativity as the observer, existing in the present, observes not the events themselves from any still existant past but the photons or other sensory data that is also in the present. The adjustments for travel time allowing the observer to calculate the events origin point in spacetime does not change the fact that his observation is happening only in the present and that in that same present the event he is witnessing is no longer occurring but has occurred and has moved on...which he can guestimate by experience.Jiohdi (talk) 18:14, 22 April 2008 (UTC)

Why is presentism thought to be incompatible with Lorentzian relativity? William Lane Craig and Thomas Crisp have both done work to show the consistency of the two. The article should be edited to say that presentism is probably incompatible with Einsteinian relativity, but compatible with Lorentzian and neo-Lorentzian relativity.

The article links "the modern theory of relativity" to the page on Einstein's theories commonly known by that name (and which are Lorentz Invariant) and also links to the "relativity of simultaneity" so clearly it is not referring to Lorentz's aether-based theory which used Galilean Relativity and in which simultaneity is absolute. Presentism is perceived to be in conflict with Einstein's theories because the "present", as it would be depicted within spacetime, would be a "plane" moving through the "volume" (actually a 3D surface moving through a 4D manifold). The normal to that plane would then identify a unique "preferred axis" corresponding to Newton's Absolute Time which of course is incompatible with relativity. Objects whose worldlines are not parallel to that normal then exhibit phenomenological behaviour which again is not compatible with the modern formulation of physical laws but strongly implies the need for an aether-based alternative or something closely equivalent, and that approach has yet to be successfully reconciled as an alternative theory of gravitation. While the section on the conflict with Relativity could perhaps benefit from some clarification, it is not wrong. George Dishman (talk) 20:39, 8 September 2010 (UTC)

I think we should add to the part about relativity some rebuttals for the presentist viewpoint, just to be fair. Some presentists may opt for a lorentzian interpretation of relatviity (Craig), or look to quantum gravity for a preferred frame (Monton) or even assume in a possibly ad hoc manner that a hidden present exists beyond our empirical observation of it (Cameron?). The merits of these individual views I won't judge here, but at least we should add a paragraph of what a presentist would respond to these objections.

In addition, I think we should make a separate section for relativity, and other possible sections. The article is too crowded as it is, and should be organized like the eternalism page. (talk) 21:07, 24 April 2012 (UTC)

Is this right?[edit]

If presentism means what I think it means, it makes sense to assume it is wrong, because if you're wrong, it can't cause any problems without a future to cause them in. There is no point in arguing for presentism, because an argument takes time to express, or even to contemplate. Without a future, you will never finish. Does it mean what I think it means? Also, wouldn't it be contradictory with both theories of relativity, along with most, if not all, other physical theories, just because they involve time? — Daniel 03:43, 7 July 2007 (UTC)

If I understand you correct, you believe that presentism is self-referentially incoherent - as I am aware of the litterture on presentism no one has suggested that. Some believe presentism has trouble explaining some causal relation (not causes that are simultanious, if such exists). Craig Bourne discusses some of these points. Maybe you are confusing the existence of only the presence and the existece of no time at all or the view that if there is only one instance of time, there can´t be any change, and events are changes? But one definition of change is that a change of truthvalues and that is someting that presentism defends. The proposition "Socrates was poisoned", change truthvalue by the passage of time. --RickardV 08:50, 8 July 2007 (UTC)

those of us who live in the eternal now have no problem speaking of the past-- personal or collective memories, and the future, which is potentials, probabilities and likely events based on experience. As to taking TIME to express. Our view of time is that it is mind made concept invented to catalogue experiences. Time is a measure of changes in non-linear events by means of comparison to linear or cyclical events... these events happen only in the present moment, but thanks to memory and anticipations we can project them no differently than those who believe the past and future exist, the main difference is that those who believe the past and future exist have not one bit of evidence to support such a notion. Everyone to my understanding experiences the world as I do, here and now along with memories and anticipations which are also existing here and now for those who perceive them. I have yet to meet anyone who had the slightest shred of evidence that the past continues to exist outside of presently existing data about itJiohdi (talk) 18:40, 22 April 2008 (UTC)
Hulse and Taylor won the Nobel Prize for their observations that support the Relativistic model of the binary pulsar system in which the orbits are changing due to the the removal of energy by gravitational waves, ripples in spacetime. The argument then is that, if ripples in time itself can carry energy through space, time cannot be merely a mental abstraction from motion. That supports the "4D manifold" interpretation of relativity and hence perdurantism though not necessarily eternalism which I think you conflate in your comment. While you and I may disagree on that evidence, your statement is far from the NPOV intended by Wikipedia.
George Dishman (talk) 20:56, 8 September 2010 (UTC)

recent edits[edit]

clarity of concept is primary. the older version is very misleading.

firstly it is a faith, in that there is no way to demonstrate that only the present exists, as the only evidence we have is our own mental perceptions which contain past present and future all at the same time.
2ndly, presentism is a statement relating to the true nature of reality which no one can know, and so this needs to be clarified in that objects can be mental or physical or other.
while I have faith in the concept of presentism, I find there is no way to prove I am right.Jiohdi (talk) 18:54, 25 April 2008 (UTC)

Presentism is no more "faith" than most philosphical positions. What is or is not knowable is itself subject to debate, your opinion on the subject is just POV.

1Z (talk) 19:38, 26 April 2008 (UTC)

It is not standard to refer to philosophical positions as "faith". E-prime has nothing to do with wikipedia's standards. The orignal article was clear. 1Z (talk) 19:41, 26 April 2008 (UTC)

Error in definitions[edit]

There is a serious error on the definition of presentism offered in this article on presentism. The article states "Presentism is the belief that the 'A Series' is fundamental and that B Series facts can be explained or reduced to A series facts". That isn't what presentism is, although presentism does require that. Presentism is the view that only the present exists. Many people believe that the 'A Series' is fundamental, but are not presentists. For example, C.D. Broad. (talk) —Preceding undated comment was added at 00:09, 4 September 2008 (UTC)

There is another error. Presentism is a belief about what things exist. No presentist would say that 'only the present exists.' Certainly I exist, but I am not "the present." Rather, presentism says that only present things exist. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 18:18, 11 December 2008 (UTC)

I agree with the above posters, but I would add that presentism does not entail the truth of the A-Theory. Presentism and the B-Theory can both be true if the world is instantaneous or frozen in time. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 06:21, 29 May 2009 (UTC)

Broken Link:[edit]

This link is broken: Four Dimensionalism. M.C.Rea. The Oxford Handbook for Metaphysics. Describes Presentism and how four dimensionalism contradicts it. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 19:12, 7 October 2012 (UTC)

copyedit November 2016[edit]

I did a bit of copyedit on the article and removed the maintenance template. Here are my notes:

  1. I thought there was some ambiguity in the sentence, Other early presentist philosophers include the Indian Buddhist tradition. Does this mean, (a) other early presentist philosophers include those of the Indian Buddhist tradition, or (b) other early presentist philosophers include the Indian Buddhist tradition in presentist philosophy? Or does it mean something else entirely?
  2. There is a quote, Ultimately, real is only the present moment. Would it be alright to insert [ity] immediately after "real"?
  3. In modern theory of relativity feels a bit awkward to me, with modifiers before and after theory. Would it be possible to change that to: In modern relativity theory? Or would that have other issues?

Please post any comments here, thanks! – Reidgreg (talk) 23:35, 22 November 2016 (UTC)