On Friday I was feeling somewhat poorly and in the interests of public health (not that I minded!) I opted out of participation in the PhD graduation dinner and Saturday's commencement. Sunday I felt somewhat worse, and today rather worse (nothing serious, just the usual "flu-like" symptoms, and both of our big kids had such in the preceding two weeks). But there is one piece of relief: It is good to have been right about the fact that I was getting sick.
It is not particularly bad to have suffered physically and similarly it is not particularly good to have enjoyed physical pleasure. But it is bad (or at least it feels bad--which is evidence for its being bad!) to have been wrong and similarly it is good to have been right. The value here isn't the value of being recognized by others as having been right or wrong. Nor is it the value of oneself presently recognizing oneself as right or wrong. For one hopes (though perhaps not simpliciter, if the prospect is particularly nasty) that one be right and that one not be wrong, not just that one recognize oneself or be recognized as right or wrong. The recognition is just the icing or mould on the top of a good or bad cake.
Eternalists have a difficulty with the fact that it doesn't seem bad to have suffered physically (bracketing any present suffering from painful memories, of course), even though past suffering is just as real as present suffering. Presentists have a difficulty with the fact that it seems to be bad to have been wrong and to be good to have been right.
I think eternalists can make a better go of it, though. Feelings like the pleasure of having been right or the pain of having been wrong are a kind of perception of normative features of the world. But not all truth is equally perceived. I am now visually aware that I have two hands, and properly so. But were I now visually aware that you have a head, my visual system would be malfunctioning. For although, dear reader, you do have a head, your head is not presently within my field of view. It is thus a part of the correct functioning of my visual apparatus that I be presently aware of my hands but not your head, even though all three parts (my two hands and your one head) are equally real.
Likewise, then, some goods and bads are appropriately within my emotional field of view--e.g., my having been right about getting sick--and some goods and bads are not appropriately within my emotional field of view--e.g., the unpleasantness of the last time I had a cavity filled. These goods and bads may be equally real (assuming that pain itself really is bad--there is room for discussion here, but it is at least extrinsically bad), but it could be (I am not sure about the first one, actually) that my having been right is appropriately within my emotional field of view while my having suffered (not at all severely--he really is an excellent dentist) at a past dental visit is not.
But we sometimes mistake absence of perception for perception of absence, like an infant who cries that the parent has left the room or the adult who sees no objection to an action and all too hastily concludes the action is permissible. Not emotionally seeing the past pain as bad--i.e., a not being pained by the past pain--is mistaken by us for seeing the past pain as not being bad.
The eternalist should thus say that the past physical pains and pleasures are bad or good, in the same way that present ones are, but we do not see their badness or goodness. Thus, the eternalist attributes to the agent a misinterpretation of absence of perception. The presentist, however, should say that having been right or wrong is not presently good or bad (though maybe it was good or bad), but we misperceive it as such. The eternalist thus attributes more correctness to our emotional perception, while attributing a well-known generalized cognitive error in explaining what went wrong. The presentist has to say our emotional perception is just wrong. I prefer the eternalist explanation.
A similar issue comes up for Christ's suffering on the cross. With a number of theologians, I take the center of our Savior's suffering not to be the horrific suffering of nails ripping through his flesh, but his deep emotional awareness of the horribleness of the totality of our sins (perhaps with the help of the hypostatic union or beatific vision bringing the particularities of all of humankind's sins to him). But this leads to a query: Why did Christ only have this awareness on the cross? We do not see him constantly and equally weighed down by this suffering earlier in life? Was he failing to have a correct emotional awareness? But now we can say: Not at all. It is the salient goods or bads that are within the field of view of correct emotional perception. And it is on the cross, at the high point of the sacrifice for our salvation from these sins (the high point: for all his life was such a sacrifice), that this became fully salient, in such a way that this perfect man--who is also true God--emotionally bore the full weight of our sin.
Note, too, that this is a story about Christ's sufferings that is difficult for the presentist to give. For it is difficult for the presentist to explain why earlier and later, and hence then-unreal, sins were bad at the time of Christ's crucifixion. Perhaps the presentist has to say that Christ's suffering came from an erroneous emotional perception of past and future sins as then-bad?