Presentism


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Related to Presentism: Eternalism
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Presentism

 

a term used in scholarly literature to designate a subjective, idealist school in 20th-century bourgeois historical methodology. Presentism viewed historiography not as a reflection of objective phenomena taking place in the past, but merely as the reflection of contemporary ideological attitudes. In absolutizing the obvious fact that any portrayal of the past presupposes a certain contemporary perspective, presentism in principle rejects the possibility of objective truth in understanding history. The concepts of presentism were most widespread in the USA from the 1920’s through the 1940’s, since the trend was closely connected with the philosophical school of pragmatism.

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
I believe it was a total failure of individual and collective memory and imagination, including professional memory and imagination, resulting in "intense individualism" and "intense presentism" governing the decision making and leading it astray.
(5) But Jones remains firm in his refusal of presentism. What he offers instead is a promising model for a performance-oriented approach to Shakespearean ecocriticism.
A pertinent example of this distinction appears in Hartog's analysis of the rise of presentism in the twentieth century, which "started out more futurist than presentist, and ended up more presentist than futurist" (107).
They cover the ancient history from the pre-Socratics to the dawn of the medieval period, the modern history to the beginning of the 19th century, McTaggart and the unreality of time, the A-theory and the B-theory of time, presentism versus eternalism, the open future, perdurance and endurance, the experience of time, time travel, and physics and the philosophy of time.
The key message, and the attitude shift for some, is to favour productivity over presentism.
Nardizzi abjures choices between historicism and presentism, criticism and activism, human and nonhuman, subject and object; instead, he practices a mode of historicist "eco-materalism" that is as motivated by climate change as it is by the peculiar puzzle of looking at Sir John Falstaff and beholding a venerable oak (73-76).
This anthology contains fascinating pieces such as that by Thomas Holt, who exhibits a brave willingness to incur the inevitable barbs that reviewers bound by historiographical convention will no doubt hurl at him for presentism. He nevertheless points out the glaring parallels between Reconstruction and contemporary limitations on "freedom"--some of them lethal--and explores the sometimes debilitating divisions in caste, class, status, and geography within various groups of blacks then and now.
Moreover we shouldn't be overly guilty of the sin of"presentism," judging historical figures by contemporary standards.
And if one can very well argue, in general analytical terms, that one of the modalities of the hegemonic cultural expression of global capitalism is the promotion of an incessant "presentism," namely, an unending search for novelty and immediate gratification that dismisses the careful and critical reflection needed to comprehend the concept (to speak a bit in Hegelese), it is equally true that the world has lived and is living an enormous amount of developments and transformations.
Eshel's Futurity responds to widespread descriptions of contemporary times as frozen in an ineffectual presentism: breaking off from the past or deferring the future.