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Prior, A. N. (1972). The notion of the present. In J. T. Fraser, F. C. Haber & G. H. Müller (Eds), The Study of Time: Proceedings of the First Conference of the International Society for the Study of Time Oberwolfach (Black Forest) --- West Germany (pp. 320–323). Berlin, Heidelberg: Springer Berlin Heidelberg. 
Added by: Mark Grimshaw-Aagaard (3/7/23, 11:04 AM)   Last edited by: Mark Grimshaw-Aagaard (3/16/23, 4:10 PM)
Resource type: Book Chapter
DOI: 10.1007/978-3-642-65387-2_22
ID no. (ISBN etc.): 978-3-642-65387-2
BibTeX citation key: Prior1972
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Categories: General
Keywords: Presence, Presence (definition), Reality, Time
Creators: Fraser, Haber, Müller, Prior
Publisher: Springer Berlin Heidelberg (Berlin, Heidelberg)
Collection: The Study of Time: Proceedings of the First Conference of the International Society for the Study of Time Oberwolfach (Black Forest) --- West Germany
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For Prior, in all discussions of the real world and other worlds, what marks the real world out as special is that any qualifying prefix is redundant. Something that is in the real world simply is and needs no qualifier such as in classical Greek mythology there exist centaurs. If there were centaurs in the real world, then one would need simply to say there exist centaurs.

Similarly with the present; qualifying prefixes, such as those for the past or future, implied or explicit, are redundant.

p.320   For Prior, the present and the real are the same concept: "the present simply is the real considered in relation to two particular species of unreality, namely the past and the future."   Added by: Mark Grimshaw-Aagaard
Keywords:   Presence Presence (definition) Reality Time
p.322   "the presentness of an event is just the event" and, regarding a lecture, "its pastness is its present pastness, so that although [the] lecture isn't now present and isn't real, isn't a fact, nevertheless its pastness, its having taken place, is a present fact, is a reality, and will be one as long as time shall last."   Added by: Mark Grimshaw-Aagaard
Keywords:   Presence Presence (definition) Reality Time
pp.322–323   Prior deals with an objection the special theory of relativity might have to his conception of present and reality with the example of a pulsating celestial body where we know observed pulsations actually happened a long time ago:

"We have just observed one of these pulsations, and as the body is a very distant one, we know that the pulsation we are observing happened some time ago. We now consider the pulsation immediately after the one we are observing, and we ask whether this next pulsation, although we won't of course observe it for a while, is in fact going on right now, or is really still to come, or has occurred already. On the view of presentness which I have been suggesting, this is always a sensible question. At least if there are to be any further pulsation at all, then either the body is pulsating, or it is not the case but will be the case that it is pulsating or it is not the case but has been the case that it is pulsating. The difference between pulsating — really and actually pulsating — and merely having pulsated or being about to pulsate, is as clear and comprehensible a difference as any that we can think of, being but one facet of the great gulf that separates the real from the unreal, what is from what is not. Just this, however, is what the special theory of relativity appears to deny. If the distant body is having its nth pulsation as we perceive it having its n-1th — is pulsating, and not merely has been or will be pulsating — then the nth pulsation and the perception of the n-1th are simultaneous; not just simultaneous from such and such a point of view or in such and such a frame of reference, but simultaneous. And according to the special theory of relativity, such "absolute" simultaneity is in many cases just not to be had.

One possible reaction to this situation, which to my mind is perfectly respectable though it isn't very fashionable, is to insist that all that physics has shown to be true or likely is that in some cases we can never know, we can never physically find out, whether something is actually happening or merely has happened or will happen."

  Added by: Mark Grimshaw-Aagaard
Keywords:   Presence Presence (definition) Reality Time
p.323   Prior makes the case that the natural sciences have expunged tenses and that their language is a tenseless one, without a conception of past, present, or future; rather events might be earlier or later than other events. "Whether the events are the case or merely have been or will be, is of no concern to the scientist, so he uses a language in which the the difference between being and having been abd being about to be is inexpressible."   Added by: Mark Grimshaw-Aagaard
Keywords:   Presence Presence (definition) Reality Time
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