The Importances of the Past

A Meditation on the Authority of Tradition

By George Allan

Subjects: Philosophy
Series: SUNY series in Philosophy
Paperback : 9780887061172, 260 pages, November 1985
Hardcover : 9780887061165, 260 pages, November 1985

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Table of contents


Chapter 1: Common Ground

Chapter 2: Holy Ground

Chapter 3: Solid Ground

Chapter 4: The Historical Past

Chapter 5: The Mythic Past

Chapter 6: The Eternal Past

Chapter 7: The Arthurian Tradition

Chapter 8: The Unraveling of Tradition

Chapter 9: The End of Tradition



This book examines tradition, the authority of the past, by tracing the process through which emotion and imagination transform everyday experience into an awareness of one's dependence on the work of predecessors. The King Arthur legend serves as a case study, outlining how this authority of tradition creates and sustains meaningful structures of social order.

George Allan is Professor of Philosophy and Dean of the College at Dickinson College, Carlisle, Pennsylvania.


"This is a strikingly beautiful piece of philosophical prose, devoted to an issue of overriding importance. It is eminently readable; often quite eloquent! Allan manages competently to incorporate the very latest research and current perspectives in historiography, cultural anthropology, social psychology, linguistics, and critical theory." — George R. Lucas, Jr., Associate Professor of Philosophy, University of Santa Clara

"It is almost spellbinding. The importance of story and myth is not only discussed, it is an integral part of the book itself and of the author's style of exposition. This is the most beautifully written book I've read in a long time." — Donald Crosby, Professor of Philosophy, Colorado State University