The wave theory of time: a comparison to competing tensed theories

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This paper introduces a new theory in temporal ontology: ‘wave theory’. Like eternalists, wave theorists believe there are four-dimensional hunks of matter, but unlike the former, they deny that everyday objects are identical with those hunks. Instead, when the instantaneous temporal parts of the four-dimensional hunks become present, those temporal parts constitute the everyday objects; such objects move through time similar to how a wave moves through an ocean.

This paper argues that (at least a good number of) tensed theorists should find wave theory attractive. Section 1 introduces some terminology, and section 2 explains the basics of wave theory itself. Sections 3 and 4 compare wave theory to the most popular tensed theories (presentism, moving spotlight theory, and growing block theory), explaining wave theory's comparative appeal.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of the American Philosophical Association
Early online date11 Apr 2022
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 11 Apr 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
Copyright © The Author(s), 2022. Published by Cambridge University Press on behalf of the American Philosophical Association.


  • temporal ontology
  • presentism
  • growing block theory
  • moving spotlight theory
  • wave theory


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