The Growth of the Growing Block Theory of Time: Early Twentieth
Century Roots and Reactions – Emily Thomas (Groningen)
The growing block view of time holds that the past and present is real
whilst the future is unreal; as future events become present and real,
they added on to the growing block of reality. Surprisingly, given the
recent interest in this view, there is very little literature on its
origins. This paper locates those origins in three early twentieth
century British works: Samuel Alexander’s (1920) Space, Time, and
Deity, C.D. Broad’s (1923) Scientific Thought, and Hilda Oakeley’s
(1931-2) “The Status of the Past”.
In addition to providing a general history of the view’s
origins, I advance two specific theses. First, I argue that although
C. D. Broad is the first advocate of the growing block theory, fellow
emergentist Samuel Alexander first articulated the view. Second, I
argue that it was Broad’s relationism about time, coupled with his
newfound conviction that time has a direction, that led him towards
the growing block theory. By way of tying these theses together, I
argue that Broad’s views on the direction of time – and possibly even
his growing block theory – are sourced in Alexander.
Full paper here.
Because the papers are works in progress, they have been password protected. To register for the conference, and get the password, please contact Graeme A Forbes at G.A.Forbes@kent.ac.uk