Relativity, Global Tense and Phenomenology

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

1 Scopus citations


An overview of the efforts of the last century to interpret relativity theory reveals that, for the most part, they concentrated on the formal and geometrical features of the theory while ignoring almost entirely its experiential side. One consequence of neglecting to examine the nature of experience is the widespread acceptance of the static block-universe picture. While many supporters of this view admit to the existence of a gap between this interpretation of relativity theory and experience, according to a suggestion made by Dieks in this volume, a closer examination shows the block-universe picture to be in perfect harmony with experience. In this paper I claim that: (a) any interpretative enterprise regarding relativity that does not include a phenomenological study is inadequate; hence Dieks’ attempt to harmonize the theory with experience is commendable; (b) nevertheless, Dieks’ proposal is untenable; (c) global tense and passage are irremovable from our experience-based conception of reality and must therefore figure in any interpretation of relativity theory; (d) a proper phenomenological analysis of tense and passage (based on an abandonment of the A and the B theories of time) facilitates squaring relativity with experience.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationBoston Studies in the Philosophy and History of Science
PublisherSpringer Nature
Number of pages20
StatePublished - 2016

Publication series

NameBoston Studies in the Philosophy and History of Science
ISSN (Print)0068-0346
ISSN (Electronic)2214-7942

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
I wish to thank the Israel Science Foundation for supporting the project of which this paper is a part (grant number 491/09).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016, Springer International Publishing Switzerland.


  • Alexandroff present
  • B-theory
  • Becoming
  • Block universe
  • Einstein
  • Global present
  • Minkowski
  • Passage
  • Phenomenology
  • Present
  • Simultaneity
  • Spacetime
  • Special relativity
  • Static time
  • Stein present
  • Tense
  • Tenseless theory
  • Time


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