Slaughterhouse Five Essays Time

While most people choose sides in a conflict, Vonnegut's concept of our world affords him no earthly position of judgment.For example, he refuses to say if there is a right or a wrong side in waging modern warfare.

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Things that occur at different times to humans are all in the present to Tralfamadorians, just as Aquinas argued that God perceives everything simultaneously, at once, and not in the future.

In short, Tralfamadorians do not have foreknowledge as defined in human terms, but rather a knowledge of a never-changing present.

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Likewise, he never rewards his characters for their heroism, namely, because calling someone a hero means judging that person's actions as good, something Vonnegut will not do.

The character who comes closest to being a hero is Edgar Derby, who stands up to the American Nazi Howard W. But remember what absurdly happens to Derby shortly after the war ends: He is executed for stealing a teapot.

The things that happen to humans at different times are, to God, "present time." Consequently, an event that is likely to happen is not future, but present.

In short, God does not have foreknowledge as humans define it, but rather a knowledge of a never-changing present.

Aquinas' explanation depended on the understanding that God exists and functions outside of time.

God's being is measured not temporally, in terms of humans' notion of time, but by eternity, which overlaps the whole of time.

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