Friday, July 22, 2016

Four-dimensionalism and interpersonal connections

I have thought about reality as four-dimensional since I was ten years old. Yesterday morning I was sitting in a conference room, and I decided to imagine what it would be like to think of the people there as if presentism were true and they were all merely three-dimensional. I then saw the people as small, disconnected lone individuals. I've since been reflecting on the way that four-dimensionalism can change how we see people.

If four-dimensionalism is true, we are four-dimensional stalks, branching off from our mothers, with a slightly less direct connection to our fathers. Together we all form an interwoven mat of upward growing stalks, stalks in contact where we, say, shook hands, hugged, kissed or even fought. The picture is no longer one of lone individuals, but of a complex multiply interconnected system. It's like a family tree where the branches are all twisted around each other.

Of course, the presentist will say that it is true that we came from our mothers, that we were begotten by our fathers, that we shook hands, hugged, kissed or fought, and so on. But on presentism these connections are past, over and done with. We are basically lone individuals, who at a variety of past times came in a variety of contacts. It is the four-dimensionalist who has a metaphysics that captures the fact that no one of us is an island.


Michael Gonzalez said...

Pruss: For the presentist, the truths about the present are grounded in truths about the past. The connections and interactions are always present with us, and they make the present what it is. We are connected to everyone else and to the world by our history.

Heath White said...

The picture in this post is a lot like the one Lewis gives in _Mere Christianity._ I think the relevant chapter is "The Good Infection."