Oxford Studies in Metaphysics - Vol. 1

By Dean W. Zimmerman | Go to book overview

4. Presentism and Truthmaking

Simon Keller


1. A PROBLEM FOR PRESENTISM

Saint Augustine’s boyhood teachers told him that there are three types of time: past, present, and future. Are we then to say, Augustine asks in his Confessions, that the past and future exist? At first, he thinks that they do. It seems, he says, that “when the present emerges from the future, time comes out of some secret store, and then recedes into some secret place when the past comes out of the present”. If the past and future are in some secret place, then they must exist in that secret place. Further, Augustine says, we can remember the past and predict the future, and “to see that which has no existence is impossible”.

Augustine soon changes his mind. Supposing, he says, that past and future things exist, they must, wherever they are, be present. For if they were past in some secret place, they would be there no longer, and if they were future in some secret place, they would not be there yet. The notion of a secret place for past and future things, Augustine concludes, is not very helpful. When we remember the past and predict the future, he now says, we are really making observations about the present. When we remember a past event, we are looking on its image in the present, and when we predict a future event, our prediciton is based upon things that are already present and can be seen. The only things that really exist, he concludes, are present things.1

Once Augustine has dispensed with the past and the future, it is difficult to see how a memory or a prediction could ever be right. What happens when a past event has differing images in the present—when people have different memories of the same event? Is it

I owe large debts to David Lewis and John Bigelow, who have greatly influenced my thinking about this material. Thanks also to Karen Bennett, Michael Fara, Josh Greene, John Hawthorne, Bradley Monton, Michael Nelson, Josh Parsons, Ed Zalta and Dean Zimmerman.

1 Augustine (1991, bk XI, sects. 22–4).

-83-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Oxford Studies in Metaphysics - Vol. 1
Table of contents

Table of contents

Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this book
  • Bookmarks
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
/ 321

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.