The growing block view of time holds that the past and present are real whilst the future is unreal; as future events become present and real, they are added on to the growing block of reality. Surprisingly, given the recent interest in this view, there is very little literature on its origins. This paper explores those origins, and advances two theses. First, I show that although C. D. Broad’s Scientific Thought provides the first defence of the growing block theory, the (...) theory receives its first articulation in Samuel Alexander’s Space, Time, and Deity. Further, Alexander’s account of deity inclines towards the growing block view. Second, I argue that Broad shifted towards the growing block theory as a result of his newfound conviction that time has a direction. By way of tying these theses together, I argue that Broad’s views on the direction of time – and possibly even his growing block theory – are sourced in Alexander. (shrink)
For early modern metaphysician Anne Conway, the world comprises creatures. In some sense, Conway is a monist about creatures: all creatures are one. Yet, as Jessica Gordon-Roth has astutely pointed out, that monism can be understood in very different ways. One might read Conway as an ‘existence pluralist’: creatures are all composed of the same type of substance, but many substances exist. Alternatively, one might read Conway as an ‘existence monist’: there is only one created substance. Gordon-Roth has done the (...) scholarship a great favor by illuminating these issues in Conway. However, this article takes issue with Gordon-Roth's further view that Conway ‘oscillates’ between the extremes of existence pluralism and monism. In its place, I argue we should read Conway as a priority monist: the whole of creation is ontologically prior to its parts. (shrink)
What is time? This is one of the most fundamental questions we can ask. Emily Thomas explores how a new theory of time emerged in the seventeenth century. The 'absolute' theory of time held that it is independent of material bodies or human minds, so even if nothing else existed there would be time.
Many scholars have drawn attention to the way that elements of Anne Conway’s system anticipate ideas found in Leibniz. This paper explores the relationship between Conway and Leibniz’s work with regard to time, space, and process. It argues – against existing scholarship – that Conway is not a proto-Leibnizian relationist about time or space, and in fact her views lie much closer to those of Henry More; yet Conway and Leibniz agree on the primacy of process. This exploration advances our (...) understanding of Conway’s system, and the intellectual relationships between Conway, More, and Leibniz. (shrink)
Super-substantivalism is the thesis that space is identical to matter; it is currently under discussion ? see Sklar (1977, 221?4), Earman (1989, 115?6) and Schaffer (2009) ? in contemporary philosophy of physics and metaphysics. Given this current interest, it is worth investigating the thesis in the history of philosophy. This paper examines the super-substantivalism of Samuel Alexander, an early twentieth century metaphysician primarily associated with (the movement now known as) British Emergentism. Alexander argues that spacetime is ontologically fundamental and it (...) gives rise to an ontological hierarchy of emergence, involving novel properties such as matter, life and mind. Alexander's super-substantivalism is interesting not just because of its historical importance but also because Alexander unusually attempts to explain why spacetime is identical to matter. This paper carefully unpacks that explanation and shows how Alexander is best read as conceiving of spacetime as a Spinozistic substance, worked upon by evolution. (shrink)
For centuries, philosophers of time have produced texts containing words and pictures. Although some historians study visual representations of time, I have not found any history of philosophy on pictures of time within texts. This paper argues that studying such pictures can be rewarding. I will make this case by studying pictures of time in the works of Leibniz, Arthur Eddington and C. D. Broad, and argue they play subtle roles. Further, I will argue that historians of philosophy more widely (...) could benefit from paying more attention to pictures. (shrink)
During the early twentieth century, British novelist and philosopher May Sinclair published two book-length defenses of idealism. Although Sinclair is well known to literary scholars, she is little known to the history of philosophy. This paper provides the first substantial scholarship on Sinclair's philosophical views, focusing on her mature idealism. Although Sinclair is working within the larger British idealist tradition, her argument for Absolute idealism is unique, founded on Samuel Alexander's new realist beliefs about the reality of time. Her metaphysics (...) takes idealism and pantheism in new directions and provides fresh insight into 1920s debates between British idealisms and realisms. (shrink)
The work of women philosophers in the early modern period has traditionally been overlooked, yet their writing on topics such as reality, time, mind and matter holds valuable lessons for our understanding of metaphysics and its history. This volume of new essays explores the work of nine key female figures: Bathsua Makin, Anna Maria van Schurman, Elisabeth of Bohemia, Margaret Cavendish, Anne Conway, Damaris Cudworth Masham, Mary Astell, Catharine Trotter Cockburn, and Émilie Du Châtelet. Investigating issues from eternity to free (...) will and from body to natural laws, the essays uncover long-neglected perspectives and demonstrate their importance for philosophical debates, both then and now. Combining careful philosophical analysis with discussion of the intellectual and historical context of each thinker, they will set the agenda for future enquiry and will appeal to scholars and students of the history of metaphysics, science, religion and feminism. (shrink)
In the early twentieth century, Hilda Diana Oakeley set out a new kind of British idealism. Oakeley is an idealist in the sense that she holds mind to actively contribute to the features of experience, but she also accepts that there is a world independent of mind. One of her central contributions to the idealist tradition is her thesis that minds construct our experiences using memory. This paper explores the theses underlying her idealism, and shows how they are intricately connected (...) to the wider debates of her period. I go on to explain how the parts of Oakeley's idealism are connected to further areas of her thought – specifically, her views on history and her growing block theory of time – to provide a sense of Oakeley's philosophy as a system. As there is no existing literature on Oakeley, this paper aims to open a path for further scholarship. (shrink)
Drawing on the 1870s-1880s work of Shadworth Hodgson and Robert Kelly, William James famously characterised the specious present as ‘the short duration of which we are immediately and incessantly sensible’. Literature on the pre-history of late nineteenth century specious present theories clusters around the work of John Locke and Thomas Reid, and I argue it is incomplete. The pre-history is missing an inter-connected group of English philosophers writing on the present between 1749 and 1785: David Hartley, Joseph Priestley, Abraham Tucker, (...) and William Watson. With William Herschel, Watson even conducted experiments to determine the limits of human temporal perception. These thinkers do not appear in the specious present literature, or broader historical surveys of temporal consciousness. Yet this paper shows that they all produced important work on our experience of the present, variously defending theses that can be found in subsequent specious present theories. It argues their texts reward study, and may have influenced later theorists; contextualises the nineteenth century theories of James and others; and pushes back the start date of the 'standard history' of micro time by over half a century. (shrink)
The first ever history of the places where history and philosophy meet, from the Age of Discovery in the sixteenth century to contemplation of how space travel will affect our understanding of who we are in the twenty-first. This book will reshape your understanding of travel.
The early modern Catharine Cockburn wrote on a wide range of philosophical issues and recent years have seen an increasing interest in her work. This paper explores her thesis that immaterial substance need not think. Drawing on existing scholarship, I explore the origin of this thesis in Cockburn and show how she applies it in a novel way to space. This thesis provides a particularly useful entry point into Cockburn's philosophy, as it emphasises the importance of her metaphysics and connects (...) with many of her further philosophical views. This paper shows that it is rewarding to consider Cockburn's philosophical views as a holistic system. (shrink)
In the early twentieth century, a rare strain of British idealism emerged which took Leibniz's Monadology as its starting point. This paper discusses a variant of that strain, offered by Hilda Oakeley. I set Oakeley's monadology in its philosophical context and discuss a key point of conflict between Oakeley and her fellow monadologists: the unreality of time. Oakeley argues that time is fundamentally real, a thesis arguably denied by Leibniz and subsequent monadologists, and by all other British idealists. This paper (...) discusses Oakeley's argument for the reality of time, and Oakeley's attack on the most famous account of the unreality of time offered in her day: that of J. M. E. McTaggart. I show that Oakeley's critique of McTaggart can be extended to challenge all monadologists, including that of the great monad, Leibniz himself. (shrink)
This chapter places Alexander in his intellectual context, focusing on his early 1880s work, and exploring how that flows into his mature work. It considers Alexander’s views on two major late nineteenth century debates about the mind. First, what is the relationship of mind to nature? During this period, idealists were battling with realists over whether mind should be identified with nature. I argue Alexander was always a realist, and speculate on his association with Oxford realism. Second, how did our (...) minds evolve biologically? Some theorists argued for naturalism, whilst others argued for supernaturalism. I argue Alexander was always a naturalist. Despite Alexander’s realism and naturalism, he leans towards both idealism and supernaturalism, sharply distinguishing his realism from that of early analytic philosophers. The final part of the chapter explains that while Alexander’s system won few converts, it was widely admired and remains a grand edifice in the history of speculative metaphysics. (shrink)
ABSTRACT In American-British philosophy around the turn of the twentieth century, every philosopher and their dog had something to say on time. Thinkers worried about our experience of time, and the metaphysics of time. This introduction to the special issue, Time in American-British Philosophy 1880s-1930s, investigates that obsession, explaining how its philosophers spilled pints of ink on time, and produced the first-ever surveys of time. I historically contextualise their work and explore some of its driving causes, including experimental psychology of (...) time perception, and theological worries over evolution. This article concludes by surveying the rich, wide-ranging papers within this collection, covering time in Shadworth Hodgson, William James, Mary Calkins, Victoria Welby, Bertrand Russell, G. E. Moore, A. A. Robb, Alfred North Whitehead, Norman Kemp Smith, J. M. E. McTaggart, Karin Costelloe-Stephen, Hilda Oakeley, May Sinclair, and George P. Adams. (shrink)
In 1765, Joseph Priestley created what may be the world's first modern timeline, A Chart of Biography. This paper offers the first study of the philosophy underlying Priestley's timeline. It argues that Priestley was pushed towards representing times as lines by his views on abstract ideas and time, and there is no reason to believe that Newtonian absolutism grounds his uniform depiction of time. Further, the Chart confirms, and even advances, Priestley's views on human progress. Finally, this study shows that (...) Priestley's conception of time as a line comprises a landmark contribution to the history of space-time parallelism. (shrink)
This paper explores a trans-Atlantic clash about time: in 1899, American philosopher Mary Calkins argued we should not spatialize time; in 1899, British philosopher Victoria Welby argued we should. I take their disagreement as a starting point to contextualize, study, and compare the accounts of time presented in their respective articles. Both Calkins and Welby cared deeply about time, writing on the topic across their careers, but their views have not been studied by historians of philosophy. This is unfortunate, for (...) I argue their novel theories reward attention. Calkins’ 1899 account draws on Kant to arrive at the earliest American-British causal theory of time, pioneers the metaphysical applications of temporal experimental psychology, and replies to F. H. Bradley’s proclamation that it is ‘impossible’ to explain the appearance of time. Meanwhile, I read Welby’s 1907 account as offering a radical metaphysic, on which time is literally a kind of space, resonating with 1880s literature around the ‘fourth dimension’ and H. G. Wells’ 1895 novel The Time Machine. I have uncovered an early draft of Welby’s paper dating to 1902 and, using this alongside other unstudied writings by Welby, trace the development of her views from the 1880s onwards. (shrink)
This paper explores the nature, development and influence of the first English account of absolute time, put forward in the mid-seventeenth century by the ‘Cambridge Platonist’ Henry More. Against claims in the literature that More does not have an account of time, this paper sets out More's evolving account and shows that it reveals the lasting influence of Plotinus. Further, this paper argues that More developed his views on time in response to his adoption of Descartes' vortex cosmology and cosmogony, (...) providing new evidence of More's wider project to absorb Cartesian natural philosophy into his Platonic metaphysics. Finally, this paper argues that More should be added to the list of sources that later English thinkers – including Newton and Samuel Clarke – drew on in constructing their absolute accounts of time. (shrink)
This paper compares the views of Kant and F.H. Bradley on the nature of judgment or experience. We argue that, while there are many differences between their idealist systems, Kant and Bradley agree on a basic issue: there is a sense in which a whole judgment or experience is prior to its parts. Through the extended metaphor of cake baking, we show that for Kant there is an important sense in which a judgment --in spite of resulting from the synthesis (...) of a manifold --is prior to its parts; and, for Bradley, immediate experience is prior to the very notion of parts. Kant and Bradley disagree over the nature of the idealist cake, but they agree that the cake is prior to its slices. (shrink)
What is time? Just like everything else in the world, our understanding of time has changed continually over time. This article tracks this question through the history of Western philosophy and looks at major answers from the likes of Aristotle, Kant, and McTaggart.
thomas lennon has argued for an innovative “Eleatic” reading of Descartes. At its heart is the thesis that Descartes is a phenomenalist about motions; with this in place, Lennon goes on to argue that Descartes is also a phenomenalist about individual material bodies. Conjuring up the ghosts of Eleatics such as Parmenides, Lennon describes a Cartesian material world in which moving, individual bodies are appearances, not realities. This paper takes issue with Lennon’s thesis that Cartesian motion is phenomenal.Section 2 of (...) the paper details Lennon’s Eleatic reading, setting out his arguments and placing them in scholarly context. Lennon is aware that his reading is radical, and he considers various passages in.. (shrink)
This chapter contains sections titled: Questions of Identity1 Personal Identity Across Time Somatic and Psychological Accounts Tattoos and the Somatic Account Narrative Identity Tattoos of Anchors … and Anything Else as Anchors When You Get a Tattoo, You Tattoo You.
Travel writer Colin Thubron once wrote, “over there, as likely as not, everything will be depressingly the same”. Is the world homogenising, everywhere morphing into everywhere else? The worldwide lockdown seems like a good time to armchair travel and reflect on places other than our own. Using the philosophy of maps, I argue we should be optimistic: our world is not everywhere the same.