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Saturday, April 25, 2020

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That makes more sense. Shall we call this the 'Dr Who' theory of tense? I assume US readers are familiar with Dr Who, although he is English. He owns a travel machine (The TARDIS, standing for 'Time And Relative Dimensions On Space) by which he can travel long distances both in space and time.

Let's suppose the Doctor is currently visiting Earth in 2020. So he exists in the (our) present. He enters the Tardis, twiddles the dials and the Tardis disapppears, to reappear in the distant future (say the year 3020) and a distant place (a planet surrounding a star in the Cartwheel Galaxy, 500m light years away).

After he disappears, the Doctor is wholly non-present, is that correct? Then you want to say that he still exists, that there is still such a person as the Doctor, but he is not present either in time or space. He is not in our 'lot' either spatially, or temporally.

I have further questions, this first question is simply to check I have understood what you say.

Some quick points; more later. It's getting hot here, so I have get out for my morning exercise.

1. I am not committed to the possibility of time travel.

2. I haven't said anything about the future; I am presently concerned only with the question of the reality/existence of the past.

3. >>After he disappears, the Doctor is wholly non-present, is that correct? << Yes.

4. >>Then you want to say that he still exists, that there is still such a person as the Doctor, but he is not present either in time or space. He is not in our 'lot' either spatially, or temporally.<<

No. Something wholly past does not still exist. What still exists existed and exists now.

You allude to an interesting question. If something is wholly past, the Berlin Wall say, and is therefore not temporally present, is it spatially non-present? I'll think about that on my bike ride.

>> Something wholly past does not still exist. What still exists existed and exists now.

Then I am still wholly puzzled by what you are saying. You start with the following consequence, which you deny.

(*) If (1) X ceases to be temporally present by becoming wholly past, then (2) X ceases to exist.

I.e. you claim that the truth of the antecedent (1) is consistent with the falsity of the consequent (2), i.e. consistent with X not having ceased to exist. But that claim implies that both “X still exists” and “X has ceased to exist” could be false.

I don’t follow.

Let’s go though it again. Assume that the antecedent (1) is true, i.e. X has “ceased to be temporally present by becoming wholly past”. Then you hold that (2) could be false, namely X has not ceased to exist.

But you also hold, judging by what you say now, that X does not still exist, for what still exists, exists now. Thus X has not ceased to exist, but neither does it still exist.

Can you explain?

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