The asymmetry between the past and the future is called the Arrow of Time. For example, the events of the past year have shaped all of us, but the future years are ours to shape. We all perceive the Arrow: we remember the start of the pandemic, but we don't "remember" or even know when it will end in the future. We have hopes about the future, but must simply accept and learn from what has happened in the past. Where do these differences come from? How do they arise in human psychology? Do they have an origin in the physical nature of space and time? What can reflecting on the difference between the past and the future tell us about our place in the post-pandemic world?
To discuss these questions, we are bringing together a diverse collection of thinkers for a panel-style event, with discussion questions posed by the chair, and regular questions from the audience.
Meet our speakers and chair
Anne Giersch is a psychiatrist, researcher at the French National Institute for Science and Medical Research, head of the Cognitive Neuropsychology and Pathophysiology of Schizophrenia research laboratory, and author of 105 papers. She is an expert on cognitive disorders in schizophrenia, coordinating projects that study how patients perceive their environment and how this affects their sense of self, and especially our subjective perception of time's continuity.
Claire North is a pseudonym for Catherine Webb, whose first novel was published when she was 14 years old. Her first novel as Claire was The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August, which became a word-of-mouth bestseller and was shortlisted for the Arthur C. Clarke award, while her subsequent novel The Sudden Appearance of Hope won the World Fantasy Award. Her latest book is Notes from the Burning Age. She lives in London and is also a live music lighting designer and teaches women’s self-defence.
Bryan W Roberts is a philosopher of physics, Associate Professor, Director of the LSE Centre for Philosophy of Natural and Social Sciences (CPNSS), and YouTuber (@soulphysics). His new book, Reversing the Arrow of Time, is freely available Open Access through Cambridge University Press. He won the 2017 Leverhulme Prize, and was a visiting Fellow at Trinity College, Cambridge, a guest lecturer in the Cambridge Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics, and (since 2013) a Londoner.
Karim PY Thébault is Associate Professor of Philosophy at University of Bristol and member of the Munich Center for Mathematical Philosophy. His philosophy of physics research focuses on the problem of time in classical and quantum theories of gravity, analogue gravity, black hole physics, quantum cosmology, symmetry, and the arrow of time. His book with Sean Gryb, Time Regained Symmetry and Evolution in Quantum Gravity, is forthcoming with Oxford University Press.
Jonathan Birch (@birchlse) is an Associate Professor of Philosophy at LSE. He is Principal Investigator on the Foundations of Animal Sentience project and teaches a course called The Big Questions: An Introduction to Philosophy.
More about this event
This event is part of the Philosophy Live series.
The Centre for Philosophy of Natural and Social Science (@LSEPhilosophy) promotes research into philosophical, methodological and foundational questions arising in the natural and the social sciences.
Twitter Hashtag for this event: #LSEPhilosophy
Featured image (used in source code with watermark added): Photo by Sonja Langford on Unsplash
Podcast & Video
A podcast of this event is available to download from Time's Arrow.
A video of this event is available to watch at Time's Arrow.
Podcasts and videos of many LSE events can be found at the LSE Public Lectures and Events: podcasts and videos channel.