In the dispute between presentism and eternalism, the affective dimensions of the debate have been somewhat neglected. Contemporary philosophers of time have not tried to relate these ontological positions with two of the most discussed maxims in the history of ethics—“live in the present” vs. “look at your life under the aspect of the eternity” (sub specie aeternitatis)—that since the Hellenistic times have been regarded as strictly connected with them. Consequently, I raise the question of whether the endorsement of one of these two ontological views can make a practical difference in the way we should live.
Despite the recent flurry of papers dealing with the relationship between presentism and eternalism and our temporally oriented attitudes, the affective dimensions of the debate have been somewhat neglected. To clarify my main aim, which is to study and make explicit these dimensions, it is important to state at the outset what the presupposition and focus of my paper are. First, I will assume without further arguments that the debate between presentism and eternalism, however these views are formulated, is genuine and non-trivial (see premise (i) in Section 2 below), for instance because it is based on an unrestricted view of…
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