“Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”
“A people without the knowledge of their past history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots.”
“If you don’t know history, then you don’t know anything. You are a leaf that doesn’t know it is part of a tree. ”
― Michael Crichton
“Relevance” pertains to importance and/or usefulness of anything or anybody at the present moment. “Relevance” is here and now. “Relevance” is present tense. Something we cannot ignore or set aside at this point of time is within the purview of what is considered to be relevant. An idea or a concept material to a clearer and better understanding of a state of affairs is relevant. Being able to talk sense about a pressing concern of existential magnitude is a case of being relevant. Relevance, in its logical configuration, cannot be relegated from the present condition. Being relevant is therefore being within the vortex of present reality.
But present reality is not an isolated space-time point. It is a constant transitory stretch of a temporal continuum that connects with the past behind it and the future before it. The whole spontaneous temporal trail cannot have a point of disconnection as an objective reality that sustains the cause-effect trajectory which makes the human condition thinkable, sensible, explicable and hence, reasonable. What we call the present is yesterday´s future and tomorrow is the present becoming past.
Our reckoning of the interconnectivity of events is always in the context of time-space category. Since we cannot do away with the cause-effect conduit, every aspect of time-space reality is calculated to be relevant. In a larger context, the all-encompassing metaphysical conception that brings to light by way of meaningful articulation the interlocking web of existence both known and yet unknown “embraces” the boundless spatio-temporal span and brings human consciousness on a higher plane of realization that the past, the present and the future constitute the “timeless Now” or the “eternal Present,” if you will. To this Einstein concurs with the statement: “The distinction between the past, present and future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion.”
In that sense, the concept of relevance is deemed to adapt to such “timeless totality,” on the one hand, and specifically permeate, on the other, its successive divisions that bring to light in temporal details the focal episodes of yesterday, today and the anticipated tomorrow. With this in mind, the past which directly connects with the present (and thus indirectly with the future) is indubitably relevant. A more enlightened understanding of the present is drawn from the circumstances of the past and one´s keen rehearsal in her/his signification of the past is of prime importance to make every conceivable detail of the present distinctively comprehensible.
It is the uniqueness of the gift of human memory that enables us, in normal circumstances, to track down the interconnectivity of things and events in conceptual terms. By and large, we are highly developed entities who along the way of our complex evolution have refined within us a tremendous rational capacity to naturally and instinctively perceive reality in terms of cause and effect. Within the parameter of this logical path, the empirical mind assigns past triggering factors which collectively constitute the cause to every present event which constitutes the effect.
In this configuration of empirical reality, the relevance of the present is constantly drawn from the relevance of the past. In fact, we could even meaningfully conjecture that the past as it constantly (but not necessarily) takes its normal trajectory towards the present has a more solid and substantial relevance over the present qua present. It is only the afterthought of the “present” that confers it with a certain degree of substantiality that may equal that of the past, for an afterthought of the present is an aspect of the past.
Henceforth, the relevance of the past is elevated to a specialized category of intellectual pursuit called History. In this connection, we could reasonably say that the past after all is not final and irrevocable for in History, the past is an open-ended proposition that may be subjected to change. In other words, through a signification of the past as a matter of History, finality or irrevocability is never achieved, for in History, the past is continually infused with a fresh breath of meaningfulness. Every now and then, History constantly revitalizes the past by transfusing it with new lifeblood achieved through interpretation and re-interpretation to make more sense of what is obtaining in the present. In the bosom of History, the past will remain substantially relevant as long as there is the present and the drive of human intellect to better and more meaningfully understand it in the light of what the past unveils.
© Ruel F. Pepa, 08 April 2014