Time Out of Mind: Anthropological Reflections on Temporality

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Our conception of historical time is biased towards the present and the immediate. We relegate ninety-nine percent of human history to 'pre-history.'This temporal obsession with the present emerged, along with consciousness, in social systems inherently cyclical. Kinship systems evolved from those with alternating generation terms through those with linear terms. Conceptions of time likewise altered from the cyclical to the linear.Time eventually came to be seen as progressive and cumulative. Theories of historical time however remain stubbornly cyclical, biased towards the post-Neolithic, and determined to set limits to time. This hierarchy of preferences in temporal thinking seems a basic feature of human nature.


Journal for the Study of Time



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