We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. By continuing to browse this repository, you give consent for essential cookies to be used. You can read more about our Privacy and Cookie Policy.

Durham Research Online
You are in:

The roots of C. D. Broad’s growing block theory of time.

Thomas, Emily (2019) 'The roots of C. D. Broad’s growing block theory of time.', Mind, 128 (510). pp. 527-549.


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.

Item Type:Article
Full text:(AM) Accepted Manuscript
Download PDF
Publisher Web site:
Publisher statement:This is a pre-copyedited, author-produced version of an article accepted for publication in Mind following peer review. The version of record Thomas, Emily (2019). The Roots of C. D. Broad’s Growing Block Theory of Time. Mind 128(510): 527-549is available online at:
Date accepted:03 July 2017
Date deposited:14 July 2017
Date of first online publication:03 October 2017
Date first made open access:03 October 2019

Save or Share this output

Look up in GoogleScholar