Philosophy Research on Time and Space – Update 1 on Time

My research interest on time now falls primarily on the distinction of A-series and B-series. McTaggart is the philosopher who starts the distinction between A-series and B-series and one primary concern of this distinction is whether “presentness” is objective or subjective. A-series describes the time series in which presentness is objective and independent from perception. On the other hand, B series describes that in which presentness is only a subjective concept and dependent on perception. That is to say, if there is no perceiver, there would be no “now” or “present,” with only events left which is ordered in a certain way (a way which is similar to the way we perceive time, only that we perceive “presentness” as well).

The research on this subject often involves the relationship between time and other related issues, like time travel, the existence of past and future, tensed language, etc. For example, people believing A-series is true often believes that past and future do not actually exist and only present exists. What was past is gone, and what is future has not come into exist yet (some of the people believe that unlike the future, the past exists). On the contrary, almost all the B-theorists believe that past, present and future all exist. Another example is the consequence concerning time travel. For A-theorists, the situation could be that time travel is impossible, for if past and future do not exist, where (when) can you go anyway? There is no such difficulty for B-theorists.

So that is what most of my research consists of, to figure out which picture, A-series or B-series, conforms to the reality, and, since no knockdown argument has been brought up, what consequences either series entails. The research has been done primarily through reading and writing, with some discussion with a professor. The conclusion is approaching.


  1. haoyukuan says:

    Hi Abe, this is really fascinating.
    I am curious about how those two different understanding would lead to the understanding of ourselves. It seems to me that if I believe in A-series then myself never exist. What make me is the past, and what I can decide is the future. When past and future never truly exist, there is no self.
    Suppose I believe in B-series, then I should believe multiple me exist at the same time. But there is also the problem of me not being able to perdict the future or remebering everything of the past.