Metaphysics of Time Lurking within Historiography: considering the (equal) existence of past, present and future

Matias Slavov (University of Oulu)
Thu, 11.04.2024, 16h (Finnish time)
Tellus Brisk and Zoom

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Tellus Brisk and Zoom (passcode 028499)



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In my talk, I shall chime in with the problem of realism in historiography from the viewpoint of metaphysics of time. This subdiscipline of philosophy centers around the nature of time. What is time in the most general and abstract sense? I shall focus on the dialecticbetween two influential views: presentism and eternalism. Presentism maintains that only the present time is real, the past is no more and the future not yet. Eternalism is the claim that all times, past, present, and future, are real.

I will argue that eternalism is a cogent position, mostly because it aligns well with much of modern physics, especially the special theory of relativity. What is the relevance to historiography? Eternalism provides us with reasons to think that the past (as well as the future) exists in one way only. Statements concerning past events have a definite truth value. We can be right or wrong about history, objectively. Hence eternalism goes together with a realistically inclined position in historiography.

Last updated: 4.4.2024