Volume 62, Issue 4, 2014
“Simultaneousness” and “Nowness”
Physics and Metaphysics of Time
The status of “nowness” is one of the most important problems of the philosophy of time. The question of “the now” remains relevant in the discussion between presentism and eternalism, or in the problem of reconciliation between the classic idea of objective sense of the flow of time and the concept of time in the modern science. Philosophy of science also reveals the never-recognized-before problem of defining “simultaneousness.”
The discussions on the objectivity or reality of the flow of time neither are the domain of the 20th-century philosophy, nor are the result of the discoveries in the modern physics. It was right on the grounds of relativistic physics, however, where the intuitive perception of time (including the supposedly obvious ideas of “simultaneousness” or the “coexistence”) and the philosophical implications of the scientific theory spectacularly collided. The dissonance between temporal
intuitions and ontological implications of relativistic time was studied by Gödel, Rietdijk, and Putnam. The attempts to reconcile the classic tensal categories with the STR definitions, made by Sklar and the others, indicate the need of explication of the different presumptions of the two frameworks of conceptual schemas as well as the need of the separation between metaphysics and epistemology. A radical attempt of elimination of the conflict between the intuition of the flow of
time and the relativistic concept of time was presented by Prior, who assigned a fundamental meaning to the tensal categories (A-theory) and who considered the relativistic concepts to be conventional and secondary. Such an idea, however, would explicitly negate the ontological presumptions of the STR, formulated by Einstein himself.
The article presents this difficulties on the basis of the fundamental presumptions and features of the classic and relativistic concept of time.