The Spectator of All Time

Is Plato right so to think of the philosopher?
We can take up different temporal standpoints:
When Darwin went on the Beagle, he had already won a good reputation in Cambridge.

Past Present Future

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When Darwin went on the Beagle, he was thinking more about birds than girls

Past Present Future

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In English, as in most European languages, our tense structure is defective, but we can make do with various periphrastic locutions, and distinguish `I shall have' from `I was going to'.

`I can come on Wednesday because I shall have got home by then'

Past Present Future

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Our thoughts are not restricted in the way physical causality is. I can adopt any temporal standpoint, much as I can imagine myself in your shoes, and see things from your point of view. We can think about the Big Bang or wonder what it will be like at the coming of the Big Crunch. So from a first-personal point of view, all time is conceptually present.

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