14 March 2024: Shira Yechimovitz (Tel Aviv University and the University of Sydney) – “The Growing Block’s Past Genesis Problem”
Aula “Martinetti”, Via Festa del Perdono 7, h. 12:00
What is past was once present. Therefore, any theory of temporal passage must account for the impossibility of past genesis. I borrow the term from Forbes (2015) but use it as an umbrella term to include any scenario where things become past without having been present first. I focus on past genesis on the Growing Block view, but the arugment might be useful for other A-theorists.
According to the Growing Block view, reality is a four-dimensional block that grows by the accumulation of three-dimensional slices. The past and the present exist, and the future does not. The present is distinct from the past in virtue of two defining features: it is the one slice with no successors (the topological feature) and it is the newest addition to reality (the dynamic feature).
I discuss three past genesis scenarios: The Eternal Past shows the two defining features of the present are both necessary and conjointly sufficient. The next two scenarios, Insertion and the Extended Slice give rise to two sets of definitions for temporal relations: topologic and dynamic. Intuition tells us that the two are co-extensive, and if we can show that they are indeed, then past genesis is impossible on the Growing Block. I test two different ways to conceptualize the dynamic definitions: the first way, using hypertime, fails the task. The second, in term of containment relations, might solve the problem of past genesis.