Changing How the World Thinks

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Time's Arrow

Are space and time simply human fantasy?

Editorial 45

We think space and time are the structure of the universe. Yet Einstein argued “space and time are modes by which we think and not conditions in which we live”. And the philosophers Kant and Heidegger, saw space and time as the framework of thought, not of the world. Are space and time just a human fantasy?

At the heart of this issue of IAI News is this complex question of time. Going head to head are philosopher Joseph Diekemper and theoretical physicist Julian Barbour. At issue: the nature of the present. Diekemper argues that the present is nothing but a border between the past and the future. However, Barbour responds to say that arguing over past and future is to miss what really matters.

Despite this uncertainty about its true nature, time is nonetheless vital for human conceptions of identity. Philosopher and classicist Angie Hobbs argues that time matters twice over: both as memory and as the narrative structures we need to make sense of ourselves and the world.

Meanwhile, our ongoing debate on whether animals can act morally continues with round two of the head to head between philosophers Tom Sorell and Mark Rowlands. Here, Sorell warns that moral philosophy must be on its guard against anthropocentrism. But Rowlands replies that anthropocentrism is an obsession of yesteryear.

Lastly, we hear from theologian, musician, and Coleridge scholar, Malcolm Guite on the respective merits of Virgina Woolf and Jane Austen. Re-reading the works of both, he asks: can a man learn anything?

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