In light of the theory of Special Relativity is a Passage of Time and the argument of the Presentist untenable?

Dissertation, University College London (2016)
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In light of the Special Theory of Relativity and the Minkowski creation of ‘spacetime’, the universe is taken to be a four-dimensional entity which postulates bodies as existing within a temporally extended reality. The Special Theory of Relativity’s implications liken the nature of the universe to a ‘block’ within which all events coexist equally in spacetime. Such a view strikes against the very essence of presentism, which holds that all that exists is the instantaneous state of objects in the present moment. With respect to the present moment, events have a clear division into the past or future, however such regions do not exist in reality and the universe is a three-dimensional entity. The consequences of a four-dimensional universe are disturbing to say the least for our everyday human experience, with once objective facts about reality becoming dependent upon an observer’s relative motion and the debate over the extent of true free will in a Block Universe. This paper will look at arguments which seek to rescue the presentist view in light of Special Relativity so such four-dimensionalist implications do not have to be accepted. Two approaches will be considered. The first accepts that presentism is incompatible with Special Relativity, and seeks to show that the theory is ultimately false. The second holds that it is the Block Universe interpretation of Special Relativity that is wrong, and a version of presentism can be reconciled with Special Relativity. The paper will expound and critically examine both of these approaches to review whether the case for the three-dimensionalist and a fundamental passage of time can be made.

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Mekhi Dhesi
University College London


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