A & B -Theories of Time

There are two distinct modes in which all events can be ordered in time.

A-Theory of Time (tensed theory)

Events (or times) are ordered by way of the non-relational singular predicates “is past”, “is present” and “is future”, normally indicated in natural languages such as English grammar. The essential characteristic of this descriptive modality is that one must think of the series of temporal positions as being in continual transformation, in the sense that an event is first part of the future, then part of the present, and then past.  It is A-Theory: time repeating itself.

Presentism is an extreme form of the A-theory. Analogous to actualism in modal metaphysics, it is the doctrine that all reality is confined to the present – that past and future things simply do not exist, and that all quantified statements that seem to carry commitment to past or future things are either false or susceptible of paraphrase into statements that avoid the implication.

B-Theory of Time (tenseless theory)

Events may be described as earlier than, simultaneous with, or later than others. It is B-Theory: where past, present and future all co-exist simultaneously. B-theorists believe that the past, the present, and the future are equally real.

Theory-B was contemplated as a way for time to fit the Theory of Relativity and the theory of Quantum Mechanics, which both have problems with the apparently linear nature of time.


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