Is the past real?

Another set of quotes from my PhD research. Last week I looked at Paul’s gospel, this week I’m going a different direction by looking at different views of the past.

Time is one of the key concepts in my thesis. In studying time, I have found just about every concept is debated so for the fun of it here is a sampling of different views of the past.*

Heideggerthe deep unity of time as future, past, and present…the backward move toward the past is retrieved in the anticipation of a present, therefore, in a being’s move toward death retrospection is reconnected to anticipation and anticipation is rooted in retrospection. (Ricoeur speaks of this view of Heidegger as he explains the becoming of being as the extension of life both backward and forward)

Richard Lehan – “…you cannot buy back the past, cannot realize ideals located in the past. The past is not a stable, solid block of meaning to which one can return at will. Present reality transforms the past. Because the past is constantly emptied of meaning – ‘you cannot go home again’…To seek meaning in the past is to seek it in a realm that will never be the same again.”

Aneesha Dharwadker – “The past dictates what we know, the very core of our existence…Menard defines history not as delving into reality but as the very fount of reality…The past changes the present as much as the present changes the past.”

Northrop Frye – “In our ordinary sense of time we have to grapple with 3 dimensions, all of the unreal: a past that is no longer, a future that is not yet, and a present that is never quite…but the centre of all time is ‘now.'”

Udo Schnelle – The past is available to us exclusively through present interpretations. In other words, history is not simply reconstructed but necessarily constructed as interpretation invents the past as we now see it by giving it a structure it did not previously have. Thus, the past exists only when it is brought into meaningful relationship with the present.

Augustine – “No time is wholly present…All past time is driven backwards by the future, all future time is the consequent of the past, and all past and future are created and set on their course by that which is always present.”

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*Italics are summaries, “…” are quotes.

 

 

 

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