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The Unreality of Time by John McTaggart

The Unreality of Time Idea

Even thought the idea that time is simply an illusion and it does not exist in our universe might seem imaginary and unrealistic to the majority of people, such theory was introduced by a British philosopher John McTaggart in 1908.


McTaggart divided positions in time into two categories: the so-called A series and B series. A series is used to describe evens as those which take place in the past, present, and future, while B series concerns events that happened earlier or later than some others. McTaggart considers the A series to be temporal, because the same event can be past, present, and future depending upon the perception of a person.

In B series, the order of events never changes. Nevertheless, according to McTaggart, time obviously evolves changes, because nothing in the world can remain unchanged even for one second. Moreover, according to McTaggart, “If anything changes, then all other things change with it. For its change must change some of their relations to it, and so their relational qualities” (McTaggart 460). For this reason, the fall of a sand castle in England changes the Great Pyramid.


In conclusion, according to McTaggart’s theory, time is an illusion created by the human mind. People can perceive events but not time, because the division of it into past, present, and future is too contradictory, and evaluating it as a sequence of events does not leave room for changes, which are natural in the universe.

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