Current and recent philosophy of history contemplates a deep change in fundamental notions of the presence of the past. This is called breaking up time. The chief value for this change is enhancing the moral reach of historical research and writing. However, the materialist view of reality that most historians hold cannot support this approach. The origin of the notion in the thought of Walter Benjamin is suggested. I propose a neo-idealist approach called perennialism, centered on recurrent moral dilemmas and choices. This suggests a view of the relations of moral thought and ontology placed in the diachronic context that historians study.