Philosophy of Time

Does anyone know the time? The pack discusses the relevance of time. The past is over, the present is now, and the future can be ever changed.

“Do you know what time it is?” ⏳ No, really. Do you? Does anyone, really? Humans tend to have certain intuitions (or gut senses) regarding the nature of time, including the idea that the past is done and over with and the idea the future is open to change. A lot of people tend to picture time like an arrow 🏹 moving in a straight line towards the future. Philosophy of time asks if these ways of thinking based on our lived experiences can tell us anything about what time really is and whether it’s possible to get to an objective, scientific way of understanding time. 🕓

This might seem a little out there. Are we talking about time as a fourth dimension? Time travel? ⏰🚀Maybe! But the philosophy of time considers more mundane things, too. Like why does time seem to drag slowly in certain situations, like when we’re in the middle of class, 📚 and move faster at others, like when we’re playing video games? How can we know if animals experience time like we do? Does my cat understand when I tell her I’ll be home in an hour? Philosophers of time think about these questions and more. We hope you have time to give it some thought, too.  

Key Texts


  • Ep 56: It’s About Time – A Podcast in the Fourth Dimension: with guest Dr. Jonathan Tallant



Pop Culture Examples

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Questions to Think About

  • Is time real?

  • Can time ever flow “faster” or “slower”?

  • Is time travel possible?

  • Does time have a beginning?

  • Do animals experience time?

Key Thinkers

  • Aristotle

  • J.M.E. McTaggart

  • Michael Dummett

  • Sydney Shoemaker

  • Manzoor Ahmad

  • Julian Barbour

  • Richard Sorabji

  • Hugh Mellor

  • Kristie Miller

  • Meghan Sullivan

“Aristotle” by Nick in exsilio is licensed with CC BY-NC-SA 2.0. To view a copy of this license, visit

“Michael Dummett” by Klaus Reisinger, Robert.S.Kissel is licensed with CC BY-SA 4.0. To view a copy of this license, visit

“File:Julian-barbour-2012.jpg” by Adam Walanus is licensed with CC BY-SA 4.0. To view a copy of this license, visit

Key Terms

  • A-Series of Time
    holds that all series of events run from future to present to past
  • B-Series of Time
    holds that all events are simply earlier than or later than one another
  • Presentism
    understands time as a moving point that passes through events, which are only real in the that moment
  • Eternalism
    Opposes presentism and holds that non-present things from the past the future exists now, even when they are not present.
  • Time’s Arrow
    a concept that understands time as moving forward in one direction, creating an asymmetrical flow of time as the “past” accumulates and the “present” is created moment by moment

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