Time is something we all have experience of, and yet is very difficult to characterise. Often, in an effort to say more about why time is so mysterious and yet so captivating, we split time up into past, present and future, and try to say something about how these are different and relate to each other. The Growing Block view of time often seems to come up in, or come out of such discussions of the nature of time. The idea is that the past exists, implacably, while the future is not there yet. This is appealing, because it fits with the fact that we remember and come to terms with the past, whereas we anticipate and attempt to shape for the future. As time passes, the fixed past we must come to terms with grows as the things we struggle to anticipate become first present, and then past.
The contrast between an existing past and an open future may be intuitive in explaining the distinctions between past, present, and future, but it leaves much work to be done. The details of such a view need spelling out, and where there are different ways of doing this, it is important to see which best does justice to the intuitive picture with which we began. The Growing Block view is not the only attempt to say something about the nature of time, and many of the other attempts are very sophisticated. The Growing-Block view needs to be considered in contrast to its rivals, and its broader role in capturing the nature of time. It also needs to respond to its critics; there is a big leap between finding a view intuitive and establishing its truth.
This blog is to host a discussion of issues relating to the Growing-Block view, in anticipation of an edited collection on the topic.
An online conference will take place from the 24th August to the 30th August. Links will be provided to all the papers, and the threads open to comments. The papers will be password protected, so contact me at G.A.Forbes@kent.ac.uk to register for the conference, and get the password.