I have a theory, or at least a concept I wish to propose on the laws of time. It is my belief that time is unalterable, and that the "future" does not exist. I see timeline as a sort of recorder, and we live on the point of recording, the exact present point. It is impossible to go into the future by any means, because there is nothing before the exact present point, merely "unwritten" time, and because time only records in one "direction" at one point in time constantly, it is also impossible to alter previously recorded time. If time travel to the past was possible, the most we'd be able to do is view the past, and not interact with it in anyway, because time does not "rerecord". My question is does my theory on time hold water? I know that time is a man-made concept, but I'd like to know if it's possible my concept of time is plausible.

You won't be suprised to hear that philosophers disagree a lot about the reality of times. Some say that time is a lot like space, and that all times are equally real at all times. On this view, the present is where we happen to be at the moment, but right now the past and the future are also equally real, much as here is the place we are, but other places are equally real even though we are not at those places. At the other extreme, there are those, appropriately called 'presentists', who think that only the present is real: the past has gone out of existence and the future has yet to come into existence. Your view is intermediate: the past and present are real but the future is not. This too can be seen as a kind of spacial view of time, but in an expanding universe. If it helps, think of the universe as an inflating balloon: on your view the temporal dimension is inflating too, so there are more and more real times. I too find the expanding view of time attractive, in part because...

Dear Sir I would like you to ask you that what is the definition of and duration of the present? The harder I try to figure out the answer the more clear it becomes that the present is just the most recent imprint of our senses on our consciousness. In a moment this imprint is transferred to our memories and it fades away. This gradual fading away of imprints from our senses gives us a feeling that time is passing. I think that the feel of time is a function of the fading process of our imprint on our memory. That is why in different situations we feel differently about the passage of time. I think there is no duration of present. Future is directly converted into past. Some part of our consciousness is in future and some of it is in past. Please comment on my thought thanks and regards Omar Javaid javaid_omar@hotmail.com

These are interesting and difficult questions about time. First of all, it's helpful to distinguish our sensation of time from time itself. Time would exist even if there was no consciousness in the universe. It is less clear whether would be any interesting notion of past, present and future. Acording to a 'spacial' view of time, time is very much like space. In particular, just as 'over there' is just as real is 'over here', so on this view all times are equally real at all times. But on other views of time, the present is a priviledged moment, and would be even if there were no creatures to enjoy it. (I'm afraid I'm going to pass on the duration question.) As for our sense of the passage of time, I don't think this can just be a result of fading impressions. For it would seem that an impression that we are having now, say while half-asleep, could be just as 'dim' as an impression we have of a past experience, yet we still would judge the former to be about the present and the latter to...

Is time stationary, and we move along it? Or are we stationary, and time moves past us?

On one view, time is a lot like another dimension lying alonside the three dimensions of space. On this view time doesn't move: all times are equally real at all times, just as all parts of space are equally real from all places. But do we move along time? Well, we are in different places at different times, and of course we are at different times at different times. According to another view of time, the present is privileged. As George Santayana once said, 'the present is like the fire running along the fuse of time'. On this view, it looks like we are moving along time, and so is the present.

If the future doesn't exist until it happens, then does it exist? Wouldn't that make it the present and not the future?

Some philosophers think that time is a lot like space: just as all places are equally real even though I am only in one place, so all times are equally real even though I am only in one time. On this view, the fact that the future exists now no more makes it present than the existence of a place over-there makes that place exist here.

Does the future exist in any knowable fashion? If so, can it be known in any absolute way? If not, why do so many of us believe it can?

On one view of time, the future is as real now as the present or the past, much as other places are as real as the place you happen to be; on another view the future is not yet real but will be. Either way, many philosophers would say that we can know some things about it, though Hume's great sceptical argument against induction attacks this idea. But Hume's argument is not especially about the future: it applies to any inference from what we have observed to what we have not observed, whether what we have not observed is in the future, present or past. In any event, it's not very surprising that we believe we can know something about the future, since we have so often formed expectations that we have subsequently found to be satisfied.

We are often told time is like a river. Are there other useful analogies for time? For example: Time is like a bowl of jello with fruit: time is the jello and events are the fruit stuck in it. I guess what I'm really asking is does time have to flow? Is there another way of thinking about time?

One of my favourites is from Santayana, who says that the present is like a fire that runs along the fuse of time. That captures our sense of past, present and future each having a different ontological status, an intuitive view that philosophers have not found easy to defend or even to make very clear.