THESP November 21 16:30 – 18:30 DZ7Posted: August 30, 2011
‘The Importance of the Past’
A bias against the past appears to be a feature of our Zeitgeist, having a number of manifestations. One of these is the dominant model of rational agency as geared towards producing effects, a model which cannot make sense of the cogency of backward-looking reasons for action. I discuss the nature of such reasons, and the way of perceiving and understanding the past which goes with them. This mode of understanding the past is one of the things that gives substance to the idea that the past has a reality lacked by the future, a reality which among other things makes the past a possible object of contemplation (as in the study of history). I take such contemplation to be a crucial component of eudaimonia, and argue that a society which undervalues it is liable to various travails.