Write an essay of about 750 to 1000 words, or 3 to 4 pages (double- spaced), in response to the ALL the prompts below (4 Paragraphs) .
The relevant texts for Essay are the assigned: * Sorensen, A Brief History of the Paradox, pp. 184- 185 on McTaggart and pp. 173-176 on Augustine’s theory of time as subjective. * David Lewis, “The Paradoxes of Time Travel”. — Do not use any other outside sources! This is not a report on what others have written about McTaggart or Lewis or time travel. This is an exercise in thinking-by-writing!
Consider our discussions of, on one hand, McTaggart’s seemingly paradoxical argument that time is “unreal” and, on the other hand, Lewis’ account of the seemingly paradoxical possibility of time travel.
Write an essay in which you explore the potential “paradoxes” of time we considered in McTaggart’s argument that “time is unreal” and in Lewis’ account of time travel as “possible” in a “strange” possible world (unlike our own). Specifically, structure your narrative in response to the following themes.
Paragraph 1: Explain the distinction between the “A series” and the “B series” of time, as McTaggart introduced these terms. Why did McTaggart think A time is more fundamental than B time? Why did he think A time is impossible?
Paragraph 2: Explain Lewis’ distinction between “external time” and “personal time”. How does Lewis’ distinction compare with McTaggart’s distinction above?
Paragraph 3: Explain how, for Lewis, time travel is possible, even if strange. What is a “person”, for Lewis? What then is “personal identity”? How would the structure of a person over time, as Lewis characterizes this form of personal identity, entail that a person could travel either forward into the future or back into the past and encounter
“himself”/”herself”/”theirself” in a past or a future time?
Paragraph 4: Briefly: Do you find time travel, per Lewis, intuitively possible? You may, if you like, consider the popular film “Back to the Future” (1986), or you may consider how our imagination in science fiction scenarios may address the possibility of time travel.
A UG US T IN E’S P RAG M AT IC P A RA D OX E S 173
became more alarming as philosophers became increasingly persuaded by the negative remarks of both Reid and Mill and less persuaded by their positive remarks: Yes, phenomenalism did not give one basis to believe that there are other minds. Yes, this is not a problem peculiar to phenomenalism. But no, phenomenalism lacks the resources to justify the inference. Common sense is equally impotent. Gosh, belief in other minds seems like a leap of faith! It is a dogma no sane person can forbear—but it is dogma all the same.
“Do I know that others have minds?” is an example of a paradox that was posed and carefully answered for fifteen hundred years prior to being revealed as a paradox. Only in the nineteenth century did philosophers discover surprisingly good arguments for a negative answer.
A U G U ST I NE ’ S SU BJ E C TI V E TH E O R Y O F TI M E
Augustine deployed Christian dogmas to drown the skeptical paradoxes. However, Christianity itself generates para- doxes—at least for Christians. (The phenomenon is general; introducing almost any apparatus to resolve paradoxes makes that tool the subject of other paradoxes.)
To oppose the Manichees, Augustine had to portray God as all-powerful. This generates the problem of evil. If God knows that there is evil and is able to stop it, then how could he be all-good if he refrains?
Augustine offers two inharmonious answers. His Neopla- tonic answer is that, strictly speaking, evil does not exist. What is real is good. What we call evil (blindness, poverty, hopelessness) is the absence of certain things. There are degrees of reality; evil is a tear in being.
174 A B RI EF H IS TO RY OF TH E P A RA D OX
Augustine’s more classically Christian solution is that human beings are responsible for evil because of their own freewill. God cedes people control that they frequently abuse. This freedom does not mean that God is surprised by our misbehavior. Since God is all-knowing, there was never a time at which he failed to know that Eve would tempt Adam to eat an apple from the forbidden Tree of Knowledge. There was never a time when God did not know the whole course of human depravity. So why did God make creatures he knew would disappoint him?
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