The Birth of the Past

The Birth of the Past

Book - 2011
Rate this:

How did people learn to distinguish between past and present? How did they come to see the past as existing in its own distinctive context? In The Birth of the Past , Zachary Sayre Schiffman explores these questions in his sweeping survey of historical thinking in the Western world. Today we automatically distinguish between past and present, labeling things that appear out of place as "anachronisms." Schiffman shows how this tendency did not always exist and how the past as such was born of a perceived difference between past and present.

Schiffman takes readers on a grand tour of historical thinking from antiquity to modernity. He shows how ancient historians could not distinguish between past and present because they conceived of multiple pasts. Christian theologians coalesced these multiple pasts into a single temporal space where past merged with present and future. Renaissance humanists began to disentangle these temporal states in their desire to resurrect classical culture, creating a "living past." French enlighteners killed off this living past when they engendered a form of social scientific thinking that measured the relations between historical entities, thus sustaining the distance between past and present and relegating each culture to its own distinctive context.

Featuring a foreword by the eminent historian Anthony Grafton, this fascinating book draws upon a diverse range of sources--ancient histories, medieval theology, Renaissance art, literature, legal thought, and early modern mathematics and social science--to uncover the meaning of the past and its relationship to the present.

Publisher: Baltimore : Johns Hopkins University Press, 2011.
ISBN: 9781421402789
1421402785
Branch Call Number: 901 Schiffma
Characteristics: xvi, 316 p. ;,24 cm.

Opinion

From the critics


Community Activity

Comment

Add a Comment

There are no comments for this title yet.

Age

Add Age Suitability

There are no ages for this title yet.

Summary

Add a Summary

There are no summaries for this title yet.

Notices

Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.

Quotes

Add a Quote

There are no quotes for this title yet.

Explore Further

Browse by Call Number

Recommendations

Subject Headings

  Loading...

Find it at My Library

  Loading...
[]
[]
To Top