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DOI: 10.4324/9780415249126-Q107-1
Version: v1,  Published online: 1998
Retrieved July 23, 2024, from

Article Summary

Time is the single most pervasive component of our experience and the most fundamental concept in our physical theories. For these reasons time has received intensive attention from philosophy. Reflection on our ordinary-tensed language of time has led many to posit a relation of metaphysical importance between time and existence. Closely connected with such intuitions are claims to the effect that time is unlike space, and in deep and important ways.

The development of physical theories from Newtonian dynamics through relativistic theories, statistical mechanics, and quantum mechanics has had a profound effect on philosophical views about time. Relativity threatens the notion of a universal, global present, and with it the alleged connections of time to existence. The connection between temporal order and causal order in relativity theories, and between the asymmetry of time and entropic asymmetry in statistical mechanics, suggest various ‘reductive’ accounts of temporal phenomena.

Finally, the radical differences between time as it appears in our physical theory and time as it appears in our immediate experience, show important and difficult problems concerning the relation of the time of ‘theory’ to the time of ‘our immediate awareness’.

Citing this article:
Sklar, Lawrence. Time, 1998, doi:10.4324/9780415249126-Q107-1. Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Taylor and Francis,
Copyright © 1998-2024 Routledge.

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