Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Owen Barfield Quote of the Day (11/20/12)

But this sense of the past as 'something different' is almost inseparable from another element in our own concern with history, namely, the habit of looking on the past as a sort of seed, of which the present is the transformation or fruit. This 'developmental' view of the nature of time past seems to us so obvious as to make it almost nonsensical to put it into words; for whether we think of history in general as a meaningful process or as a meaningless one, we just cannot help thinking of it as the old gradually giving way to the new. Yet that whole way of thinking is hardly more than two or three centuries old. It began only when another important change had just been taking place in the West in man's ideas about the relation between the past and present . . .: the abandonment of the medieval and classical conviction that the history of mankind as a whole was a process of degeneration, and the substitution therefore of the conviction that the history of man is one of progress. Hitherto it had been thought of as a descent from a Golden Age in the past; now it began to be thought of as an ascent into a golden age in the future. —Owen Barfield (Speaker’s Meaning 15-16)

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