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The Measure of Times Past

Pre-Newtonian Chronologies and the Rhetoric of Relative Time

In this extraordinary work, Donald J. Wilcox seeks to discover an approach to narrative and history consistent with the discontinuous, relative time of the twentieth century. He shows how our B.C./A.D. system, intimately connected to Newtonian concepts of continuous, objective, and absolute time, has affected our conception and experience of the past. He demonstrates absolute time’s centrality to modern historical methodologies and the problems it has created in the selection and interpretation of facts. Inspired by contemporary fiction and Einsteinian concepts of relativity, he concludes his analysis with a comparison of our system with earlier, pre-Newtonian time schemes to create a radical new critique of historical objectivity.

302 pages | 6 x 9 | © 1987

History: History of Ideas

History of Science

Rhetoric and Communication

Table of Contents

1. Introduction
2. The Rise and Fall of Absolute Time
3. The Relative Time of Herodotus and Thucydides
4. The Time of the Oecumene
5. The Time of the Incarnation
6. The Time of the Renaissance
7. The Dating of Absolute Time
8. Conclusion: The Truths of Relative Time
9. Epilogue

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