Time and Realism
How does time pass? Does time itself move, or is time’s passage merely an illusion? Analytic philosophers belong, for the most part, to one of two camps on this question: the tensed camp, which defends the reality of time’s passage, conceiving the present as “ontologically privileged” over the past and future; and the tenseless camp, which denies time’s passage and holds that all events, whatever their temporal location, are ontologically equal. In Time and Realism, Yuval Dolev goes beyond the tensed-tenseless debate to argue that neither position is conclusive but that the debate over them should be seen as only the first stage in the philosophical investigation of time. The next stage, he claims, belongs to phenomenology, and, he argues further, the phenomenological analysis of time grows naturally out of the analytic enterprise.
Dolev shows that the two rival theories share a metaphysical presupposition: that tense concerns the ontological status of things. He argues that this ontological assumption is natural but untenable, and that leaving it behind creates a new viewpoint from which to study central topics in the metaphysics of time. Dolev shows that such a study depends on the kind of meticulous attention to our firsthand experiences that drives phenomenological investigations. Thus, he argues, phenomenology is the venue for advancing the investigation of time.
Time and Realism not only analyzes the tensed-tenseless debate, resolving some of its central difficulties along the way, it transcends it. It serves as a bridge between the analytic and the continental traditions in the philosophy of mind, both of which are shown to be vital to the philosophical examination of time.
Yuval Dolev is Professor of Philosophy at Bar Ilan University, Israel.