Real Time II by David Mellor

Our subjective experience of time is that the future advances towards us into the present moment and then recedes into the past. It is a kind of ‘flow’, ‘the river of time’. Many people are troubled by questions about the relation between past, present and future. Is time travel possible? If so could you kill your own Grandfather when he was a child? Could time run backwards? Is time ‘tensed’ or not? Or rather, are we enmeshed in an eternal co-present, time being an extended dimension in which all points are equally real? I am reminded of the opening lines of Prufrock ‘ (

LET us go then, you and I,
When the evening is spread out against the sky
Like a patient etherized upon a table

What if time was ‘spread out’  like that? David Mellor’s ( and book (1998) is the standard text for these metaphysical questions roughly grouped as ‘philosophy of time’.

Before embarking on this, you could listen to a short interview with Mellor in the excellent ‘Philosophy Bites’ ( series to be found at on MP3 file on the Web. These are thoughts with the power to scramble your brains. Try not to meet yourself coming back!

Alternatively, ease yourself into this subject by listening to the Radio 4 ‘In Our Time’ episode (30 minutes) on the nature of time. Available at the link   With Dr. Neil Johnson, theoretical physicist at the Clarendon Laboratory, Oxford University and Royal Institution Christmas Lecturer 1999 on the subject of Time; Lee Smolin, cosmologist and Professor of Physics, Pennsylvania State University. First broadcast Thursday 30 Dec 1999.

160 pages in Routledge paperback edition.

ISBN 978-0415097819

Professor David Mellor – wondering whether time could run backwards

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