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Durham University

Department of Philosophy


Publication details for Dr Emily Thomas

Thomas, Emily (2019). The Roots of C. D. Broad’s Growing Block Theory of Time. Mind 128(510): 527-549.

Author(s) from Durham


The growing block view of time holds that the past and present are real whilst the future is unreal; as future events become present and real, they are added on to the growing block of reality. Surprisingly, given the recent interest in this view, there is very little literature on its origins. This paper explores those origins, and advances two theses. First, I show that although C. D. Broad’s (1923) Scientific Thought provides the first defence of the growing block theory, the theory receives its first articulation in Samuel Alexander’s (1920) Space, Time, and Deity. Further, Alexander’s account of deity inclines towards the growing block view. Second, I argue that Broad shifted towards the growing block theory as a result of his newfound conviction that time has a direction. By way of tying these theses together, I argue that Broad’s views on the direction of time – and possibly even his growing block theory – are sourced in Alexander.