2.39 Time

Category: Metaphysics

Keywords: tensed, remembering, future, past, tense, mctaggart, remember, memory, ago, memories, tomorrow, backward, sea, mellor, becoming

Number of Articles: 300
Percentage of Total: 0.9%
Rank: 51st

Weighted Number of Articles: 291
Percentage of Total: 0.9%
Rank: 50th

Mean Publication Year: 1975.3
Weighted Mean Publication Year: 1971.4
Median Publication Year: 1975
Modal Publication Year: 1963

Topic with Most Overlap: Ordinary Language (0.048)
Topic this Overlaps Most With: Temporal Paradoxes (0.0382)
Topic with Least Overlap: Liberal Democracy (0.00013)
Topic this Overlaps Least With: Moral Conscience (0.00084)

A scatterplot showing which proportion of articles each year are in the timetopic. The x-axis shows the year, the y-axis measures the proportion of articles each year in this topic. There is one dot per year. The highest value is in 1876 when 1.8% of articles were in this topic. The lowest value is in 1903 when 0.2% of articles were in this topic. The full table that provides the data for this graph is available in Table A.39 in Appendix A.

Figure 2.95: Time.

A set of twelve scatterplots showing the proportion of articles in each journal in each year that are in the Timetopic. There is one scatterplot for each of the twelve journals that are the focus of this book. In each scatterplot, the x-axis is the year, and the y-axis is the proportion of articles in that year in that journal in this topic. Here are the average values for each of the twelve scatterplots - these tell you on average how much of the journal is dedicated to this topic. Mind - 0.9%. Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society - 0.9%. Ethics - 0.3%. Philosophical Review - 1.0%. Analysis - 1.4%. Philosophy and Public Affairs - 0.4%. Journal of Philosophy - 0.9%. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research - 0.8%. Philosophy of Science - 0.6%. Noûs - 1.0%. The Philosophical Quarterly - 1.3%. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science - 0.6%. The topic reaches its zenith in year 1876 when it makes up, on average across the journals, 1.8% of the articles. And it hits a minimum in year 1903 when it makes up, on average across the journals, 0.1% of the articles.

Figure 2.96: Time articles in each journal.

Table 2.83: Characteristic articles of the time topic.
Table 2.84: Highly cited articles in the time topic.


One of four different topics the model found on time, which has been a continuing source of interest in the journals. This one is on broadly speaking the existence of times. We’ve already looked at discussions of the temporal paradoxes, and space and time in classical physics. and we’re coming up to the discussion of space and time in relativistic physics. And that’s setting aside the composition and constitution, which includes a lot of papers on temporal parts.

Especially compared to its neighbors in debates about time, this one has a very flat distribution across time. Perhaps there is some kind of irony in this. This can be seen when looking at all four topics on a single graph. (I’m starting this in the twentieth century to exclude some outlier years, and I’ve included trend lines to make things clearer.)

A scatterplot showing the proportion of articles in the four main topics about time. The two early topics, temporal paradoxes and classical space and time, slowly recede over the years. This topic, which I've simply called time, peaks in the 1980s. And the topic I've called space and time, which is largely about relativity, keeps rising through the century.

Figure 2.97: Weighted frequency of articles in four topics about time.

The two early topics gradually fall, though maybe they have both reached a steady state. Relativistic space and time rises through around 1980, though it too might have obtained an equilibrium. But this topic, the metaphysics of time(s) stays at a very steady level around 1 percent year after year.