General Question

ninjacolin's avatar

Does the past exist? How? In what way?

Asked by ninjacolin (14233points) February 5th, 2011

Not really sure how to ask this one so maybe just discuss as you see fit. I’ll throw out a few more similar questions:

In what capacity does the past exist?
Is it only in our heads?
Is the past real?
Is the past happening right now?

Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

28 Answers

Coloma's avatar

There is no past. All ‘past’ was, in that moment,was a present moment. Therefore the ‘past’ exists in memory only, not present moment reality.

Likewise for ‘future’.
‘Future’ is a mind made concept that does not exist except through projection.

The past is forever gone and the future does not exist, there is only, and always, just now.

CaptainHarley's avatar

Time itself is a human construct, just another way of manipulating reality. There is some question as to whether time has any objective existence at all outside of human consciousness.

Ladymia69's avatar

According to shamanism, whatever is going on inside your head is Reality. If you are in the past in your head, that is your reality, that is what is happening now.

Vortico's avatar

If you think of time as a pseudo-dimension (i.e. up/down, left/right, forwards/backwards, future/past), a time in which an event happens can be thought of as a specific location on a timeline. This is not similar to the idea of fate, which states that events in the future are static. Just as an object can be moved in our familiar three dimensions, the future can change depending on many variables from events found at times before that point in the future.

However, the past cannot be changed, thus making it an inaccessible region of tampering. The point at which the inaccessible region on a timeline changes into the accessible region is known as the present.

TheDuce's avatar

I see the past as the collective experience of every living creature with a memory. I believe its existence may be abstract, but it certainly exists. I don’t think it’s fair to say it is only in our heads. It may not have a physical form, but neither does love, hate, or happiness.

I think the past is very real and can be observed personally through our own memories, or physically through documentation by others. The past isn’t happening right now—if it were, it would be the present. It did happen any duration of time ago. One second ago is the past as much as twenty thousand years ago is the past. Anything you can look upon as an event or object confirmed to have happened or existed, respectively, is part of the past. This can range from remembering a thought you had earlier in the day to reading about the eating habits of a dinosaur.

The past is observable, unchangeable, and intangible. It’s a complex concept if a lot of thought is put into it, but I feel it’s still a concept almost any living being is either able to grasp, or at the very least be conscious of.

choreplay's avatar

If a tree falls in the forest and no one is there to hear it, does it make a noise? In reality no, in truth yes. Reality is what is with in our perceptions and is different with in everyone. Truth is that which exist and is outside of us, it is ultimate and independent of us, there is only one truth. The tree in the forest does make a noise, it is true, and there is a sound wave reaction that intersects with all of the objects around it. One of the ultimate human quests is to keep our reality in truth.

So does the past exist? With in you it is real. Did it truly happen, I believe common perception tells us it did.

kess's avatar

This Life is a cycle, where eventually the past and he future reconcile themselves to each other…when this occurs time is no more.

WasCy's avatar

No, the past ‘does not’ exist (using a present tense), but it certainly did exist, and if you’re answering questions on a History test you’d better believe it if you want to pass the test and the class – or else what are you doing in that class, anyway?

zenvelo's avatar

the past exists by experiencing what happened years ago as light travels to you. At Proximi Centauri they’re just getting the 2006 episodes of the Office.

Last week there was a thread about a Super Nova next year in Orion by Betelgeuse. That has not “occurred” yet to us, but if it did it it actually occurred about 640 years ago, during the early Renaissance. If it’s true we have the past before us.

Mikewlf337's avatar

The past existed.
It is not in our heads because it really happened and our brains record the memory
It is happening now because every minute that goes by becomes the past.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

In the way of my ex-husband.

thorninmud's avatar

What exists is change. Time, including the past, is just our way of accounting for this perception of change. The sense in which the past “exists” is as an explanation—an explananation for why things are no longer as we remember them.

lloydbird's avatar

The past existed. The present exists . The future will exist.
They all coexist in the same continuum.
The same one.
The illusion of things being other that this is interesting.

flutherother's avatar

I think the past is real and is not lost and that it still exists though we can no longer experience it. I think of past present and future as being like music on a CD. We only ever hear a moment of music but our consciousness creates the tune in our minds and the music is all there on the disc from beginning to end.

Nullo's avatar

“Time is an illusion. Lunchtime doubly so.”

PhiNotPi's avatar

Only in your memories…

Adagio's avatar

The past exists, the way in which it is recalled depends entirely upon perception, two people may recall the exact same incident completely differently, it depends where one is standing at the time and what glasses each person is looking through e.g. rose tinted glasses make for somewhat glossy recollections

Nullo's avatar

The past exists in much the same way that the future does. Most people lack the mental framework to adequately describe either.

lemming's avatar

The past existed, now only the effects of the past exist.

starsofeight's avatar

The clock does not tick, but our joints creak more and more. The calendar, also, is arbitrary, yet we find ourselves yearning for another Friday.

I have wondered about time. If time may be considered a conduit, does it slide back across our present, or do we march bravely forward?

If time is only ‘change’, there are too many different times. Can we hope to incorporate the whole?

This is my opinion (and nothing more): Time is a multiplicity of presents that exist in unison. A single entity travels forward in cycles, with no one particular present ever waning, or winking out. Each passage through the loop sees all the separate presents somehow changed.

In this sense, the past is never lost, but is always the present; the present is never lost, but is always the future.

In this sense, prophecy is only memory. This is the short version of my thoughts on time, but what goes around, really does come back around.

nellybar's avatar

The past did exist – I have many photographs that prove that it did. It does open up many questions about what we perceive to be real and fantasy though – I like the tree falling analogy by Season of Fall.

A fab question I must say, I’m enjoying reading everyone’s opinions on this…

meiosis's avatar

If time travel is possible, which theoretically it is, then the past, present and future are happening now, then and forever. Which is tricky for free will, of course.

faye's avatar


ETpro's avatar

@ninjacolin Stunning question.

I fully expected it to exist before it came into being. My expectations proved justified. It existed when I was there in it. I’m pretty sure it still exists, but I don’t know where I left it. I just tried to go back and check, and I couldn’t even find the door I came out of when I left it back there—where ever back there is.

silky1's avatar

Well without the past how would we know we are in the future?

gondwanalon's avatar

It’s gone with the wind.

LostInParadise's avatar

We are born with a sense of time and it proves to be a useful concept, so from a pragmatic point of view I accept its existence. We conceive of time as flowing, with an unchangeable component in the past with snapshots in our memory leading to a present moment where we can choose our actions leading to some yet to be determined future.

shutup16's avatar

no because i hate my PAST

Answer this question




to answer.

This question is in the General Section. Responses must be helpful and on-topic.

Your answer will be saved while you login or join.

Have a question? Ask Fluther!

What do you know more about?
Knowledge Networking @ Fluther