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Is Their Anything ontologically Special About the Present?

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Is there anything ontologically special about the present?

To ask whether there is anything ontologically special about the Present, within the concept of Time, is to ask whether there is anything about the Present's existence which makes it different from the concepts of Past and Future. This area of debate is complex and there are many different theories from a vast range of philosophers, each fueling the debate further. To simplify the debate on the Present's unique characteristics, there are three main schools of thought surrounding the issue. There are the 'Presentists', those who agree with the 'Growing Past Theory' and finally those who fall into the 'Block Universe Theory' school of thought. To begin, I will attempt to explain these differing schools, then move on to describe which of the three best answers the posed question. I intend to illustrate through the course of this paper how it is those forwarding the 'Growing Past Theory' who provide the soundest arguments in relation to the Present's unique ontological characteristics.

Firstly I will begin with explaining the most prominent features of the 'Presentist' theory. 'Presentism' holds to the concept that only the Present exists, meaning that both Past and Future are unrealities. Theodore Stcherbatsky quote upon Buddhist logic can be seen to succinctly encompass the concept of Presentism; "Everything past is unreal, everything future is unreal, everything imagined, absent, mental... is unreal... Ultimately real is only the present moment of physical efficiency." This shows that 'Presentism' denies the factual existence of anything but the current moment in time. The reason behind this is that nothing can exist in more than one dimension of time, i.e. past, present or future. For something to exist in both past and present, according to 'Presentism', would mean that the present must become an extended period of time. This is seen to be impossible because if the present is extended, then it must be inclusive of many different parts, and these 'parts' must also be simultaneous. An impossibility. The only way something which is perceived to be only existent in the past can still exist in the present, is if that event still has factual ramifications in the present. For example, the existence of the dinosaurs is still factually present, even though they are long extinct, due to the existence of their fossilized remains. As stated above, 'Presentism' also denies the existence of the future. The reason for this is that for the future to be real, it must be pre determined. If pre determination did exist then that would employ the concept of fatalism, meaning that all events are mapped out in time, disregarding the concept of free will. It would be ignorant of me to completely disregard a philosophical concept of the magnitude of Fatalism, but as it is not the focus of this discussion, we will assume that it is a fallacy and the idea of free will is true.

The problems surrounding the 'Presentist' school of thought is that the inexistence of factual certainties from past events is totally repugnant to human logic. Past events cease to exist in the present as soon as the event ends, yet the repercussions of these events are still felt in the existing present, long after said events have ended. I will again use the example of the dinosaurs to illustrate this. According to 'Presentism', they do not exist. Yet it is an undisputable fact in both past and present time that they did, and through their fossils, still continue to exist. So long as we are aware of them, through either discovery of fossils, written memory of said discoveries and so on, they will continue to exist.

The second concept of the Present's ontological uniqueness is that of the 'Growing Past Theory'. Advocates of the 'Growing Past



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