Beyond A-Theory and the Block Universe: A non-circular derivation of “before”, change, and local asymmetric time
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This article proposes a “third way” in the philosophy of time beyond A-theory and the block universe, in which time is understood as a purely local phenomenon. It does so by starting with simple metaphysical assumptions about substances and their properties. Based on these assumptions, the notions of “before”, of change, and of time as a local quantification of change can be derived non-circularly, i.e. without invoking temporal concepts. I then proceed to prove the irreversibility of local time by showing that the propositional content of the local past cannot be changed, since this would imply a contradiction, whereas that of the future can. Time’s familiar asymmetric character, in particular the difference between the fixed past and the open or “branching” future, is therefore a non-illusory but purely local phenomenon. Such a model requires no past-present-future distinction valid for the entire cosmos, and is therefore consistent with special and general relativity. The article furthermore explores the implications of this model for the notion of an evolving universe.