In the birth of the past zachary sayre schiffman explores these questions in his sweeping survey of historical thinking in the western world today we automatically distinguish between past and present labeling things that appear out of place as anachronisms schiffman shows how this tendency did not always exist and how the past as such . The birth of the past zachary s schiffman anthony grafton on amazoncom free shipping on qualifying offers how did people learn to distinguish between past and present how did they come to see the past as existing in its own distinctive context in the birth of the past. The birth of the past book read 3 reviews from the worlds largest community for readers how did people learn to distinguish between past and present . We take the concept of the past for granted yet schiffman argues that the notion of the past as a concept began only fairly recently during the renaissance and did not culminate until the eighteenth century after which it acquired its commonsensical status p 1 although this book is the product of over 30 years of reading . The function of objects as evi dence is to divide the present from the past a division with no firm existence independent of specific historical agendas2 fasolts colleague zachary schiffman read the limits of history closely in draft form and it is no coincidence that schiffmans own lapidary monograph the birth of the past
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