Senior research project ponders theories related to time travel
The deep, metaphysical implications of traveling back in time were explored by Evie Green ’18 of Lane Cove, Australia, in her senior philosophy seminar research project, “Why Assuming a Time Theory that Allows for the Philosophical Possibility of Backward Time Travel Makes Our Lives Fatalistic.”
Green was inspired by her lifelong love of “Doctor Who,” “Back to the Future” films and time travel in general. “Ever since I took an Introduction to Philosophy (course) at Sydney University that covered some metaphysics, I have been fascinated by the philosophical possibility of backward time travel and how it interacts with different time theories,” Green says.
In her research, Green investigates backward time travel – the act of going back to some point in one’s life – and its implications on humanity’s free will; and it also examines different theories of the nature of time.
In preparation, Green read many philosophy papers about backward time travel, scoured the Internet for video sources, and conducted deductive reasoning on her own. Because of the nature of her project, Green jokes that “unfortunately, I couldn’t actually conduct any experiments.”
Green found it challenging to make her research interesting and understandable for people outside of the niche interest realm. Fully comprehending the theories also proved difficult for Green, as did explaining the implications of how her research impacts free will.
“My research project taught me how to think critically and how to engage with theories that sometimes seemed quite abstract and, in cases, absurd,” Green says. “Ultimately, it was a wonderful learning experience in philosophical research and investigation, and it made me realize that backward time travel is not as wonderful as we tend to consider it, not as liberating, given we don’t have free will in the past if we can travel through time – philosophically that is.”
Green presented her research at both Ripon College senior showcases, as well as the philosophy department’s senior seminar presentation. “Both times, it was exciting to be able to share my research with others and find people interested in something that has intrigued me for over a semester,” she says.
Philosophy, Green says, is a discipline that encourages individuals to think differently and examine things from a new perspective. Critical thinking, conceiving abstract notions and understanding complex theories are all skills she feels she has gained through studying philosophy at Ripon College.
“Ripon, being a small liberal arts college, provides you with opportunities that a large school does not,” she says. “All of the faculty at Ripon are happy to help you and work to foster your interests. Ripon is a supportive community that promotes education and friendship.”
Green’s majors include philosophy, English and self-designed study. Upon graduation, she plans to study for a master of arts in Shakespeare studies in the United Kingdom.
Dakota Marlega ’21