The Origin of our Concept of the Past

The Origin of our Concept of the Past - .,more accurately,...

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The Origin of our Concept of the Past There is a final issue that should be briefly mentioned before we go on to consider the basic issue  of the justification of our beliefs about the past. This is the question of the origin - or, more  accurately, the analysis - of our concept of the past. One very natural idea is that the concept of the past can be defined as the concept of what is  earlier than the present. (Though this is a rather natural idea, most philosophers who favor a  tensed view of the nature of time would reject this suggestion, since they almost invariably hold  that the concept of temporal priority must itself be analyzed in terms of tensed concepts,  especially those of past, present, and future.) But if the concept of the past is to be analyzed in  that way, this immediately leaves one with the question of what account is to be given of the  earlier than relation. Some philosophers have been tempted to treat temporal relations - such as that of one event's  being earlier than another - in a fashion paralleling a treatment of spatial relations - such as the  relation of betweenness - that seems very natural. Thus, in the case of spatial relations, it is  natural to view the relevant concepts as picking out relations that are immediately given, that are  directly observable: one acquires the concept of what it is for one thing to be between two other  things by acquaintance with things that stand in that relation - either physical objects, or sense  data, or parts of one's visual field, etc. But can one plausibly maintain that temporal relations - 
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