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Why There Cannot be Any Such Thing as “Time Travel”

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Extending work of Wittgenstein, Lakoff and Johnson I suggest that it is the (spatial) metaphors we rely on in order to conceptualise time that provide an illusory space for time‐travel‐talk. For example, in the “Moving Time” spatialisation of time, “objects” move past the agent from the future to the past. The objects all move in the same direction – this is mapped to time always moving in the same direction. But then it is easy to imagine suspending this rule, and asking why the objects should not start moving in the opposite direction. This is one way of generating the idea of time‐travel “back” into the past. Time‐travel‐talk essentially involves the unaware projection of fragments of our time‐talk – taken from powerful conceptual metaphors – onto the nature of reality itself. Understanding this dissolves away the charm and attractions of such talk.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Reader in Philosophy at the University of East Anglia (Norwich)

Publication date: 2012-04-01

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