Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Fusion of Horizons

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

They say that time past, having an inexorable grip over time present and a resonating hold over the future, must be left behind. The past, haunting us and keeping us from being truly present - here and now – must be let go.

Do we really have to leave the past behind? Is it always easy to let go?

Hans Georg Gadamer’s (1900-2002) hermeneutics – the fundamental notions of continuity and discontinuity, temporal distance and fusion of horizons – makes clear how the flow of our life is characterized by a permanent mediation of past and present. Our whole being is situated in a historical process, with the past inseparable from the present and the future.

Thus, we can never escape the past. We can only learn from it.

Horizon is the range of our vision, which includes everything that we can see from a particular vantage point. A vantage point, having physical and temporal dimensions, consists of our belief systems, desires and imaginings. Only in the realm of our horizon, as formed by our personal and socio-cultural histories, can our intellect and emotion function. The concept of horizon, according to Gadamer, is “a possibility to adequately comprehend and compare close and distant things.”

Fusion of horizons is learning from something past that is of value to us. It essentially involves both continuity and discontinuity. There’s discontinuity because who we are in the past is no longer who we are now, as defined by our horizons; there’s continuity because our present horizon is continually influenced by our past horizon. The present horizon is not closed or separated from the past but grows inside of it. Thus, a genuine interweavement of all horizons can be attained by understanding the past ones, then building a huge, common horizon that is permanently on move.

The past, though steeped in pain and horridness, cannot be left behind. The fusion of past and present horizons creates new perspectives and enriches our lives. Time past makes sense of time present and instead of impeding our renewal, enlivens it. We can never be truly present and deliver ourselves in the here and now without the past.


Anonymous said...

"Freedom does not begin when parents are rejected or buried; freedom dies when parents are born. He is free who is unaware of his origin. He is free who is born of an egg dropped in the woods. He is free who is spat out from the sky and touches the earth without a pang of gratitude."

Milan Kundera, Life is Elsewhere

No need for "fusion of horizons" if you are "putok sa buho". :)

Angeli said...

..but we can never be "born of an egg" or spat out from the sky", can we?

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