Why We Need Calendars and Clocks
Why Bother to Keep Time?
What’s Different About Human Time?
Keeping Time in the Paleolithic Era
Professor Movius and I stood on the shelf looking across the valley as the sun went slowly down behind the hills far to the right, sinking as a great red disc. As it was going down, the first crescent of the new moon appeared in the sky as a thin silver arc, facing the sinking sun. It was instantly apparent that the Les Eyzies horizon formed a perfect natural “calendar” and that the first crescent would appear over those hills at sunset every 29 or 30 days...that the sun was sinking at its farthest point north on that horizon, its position at summer solstice, and that it would now begin to move south.... The visual effect of the silver first crescent, aiming its arc at the setting sun and following the summer sun down, was stark and dramatic. There was no way that generations of hunters living on that shelf over a period of 18,000 years or more could fail to notice these periodic changes and movements of the sun and moon.... It took the next 18 years, however, before I could properly put together the seasonal and ecological dynamics of that valley and work out its relations to the art, images, and paintings in the caves.(“Hierarchical Evolution of the Human Capacity,” pp. 14-16)
Keeping Time in Agrarian Societies
Toward the Modern Era
Just as the chains of interdependency in the case of pre-state societies are comparatively short, so their members’ experience of past and future as distinct from the present is less developed. In people’s experience, the immediate present — that which is here and now — stands out more sharply than either past or future. Human actions, too, tend to be more highly centred on present needs and impulses. In later societies, on the other hand, past, present and future are more sharply distinguished. The need and the capacity to foresee, and thus considerations of a relatively distant future, gain stronger and stronger influence on all activities to be undertaken here and now.(Time: An Essay, p. 144)