I'm reading Identity: Youth and Crisis and I was particularly struck by this passage:

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However, I'm completely lost by the idea that we are in constant process of making the present into the past - I don't believe I've seen this idea before, and I had an ever harder time trying to find it explained anywhere.

What does Erikson mean by "constant process of making the present 'former' " ? What is he referring to here?

  • 4
    $\begingroup$ Is there a question here? $\endgroup$
    – Arnon Weinberg
    Apr 11 '17 at 14:27
  • $\begingroup$ sorry, I can edit it to make my question more apparent. $\endgroup$
    – Matt
    Apr 11 '17 at 18:22
  • $\begingroup$ I'm not so well versed in psychoanalysis, although I really like E. Erikson. Maybe reading "Mind and Society" by L.S. Vygotsky or "Mind, Self and Society" by G.H. Mead can be helpful. Also the writings by J. Piaget--they may be useful as a complement to L.S. Vygotsky. In substance, I'm referring to the psychic representation of the world around us; which while being unique, cannot be purely subjective, since we are able to communicate. It may also be interesting to read about the " Theory of Affordances" by J.J. Gibson. $\endgroup$
    – user14074
    Apr 12 '17 at 6:29
  • $\begingroup$ "Memories. You're talking about memories!" From Blade Runner. $\endgroup$
    – user9634
    Apr 12 '17 at 23:03

You should have quoted a bit more, because he was getting to the punchline. It is a bit metaphorical, but I think he is basically saying that it is not possible to have a "pure experience". We always have some individual context for everything, including our own past thoughts.

Another wrinkle is that everything that we think about is already in the past. We can't walk and chew experiences at the same time, so to speak.

Take a good look at what Buddhism says about this sort of thing - it is a 2500 year old technology for dealing with and understanding psychological reality. You could just study nonduality (research term: Persistent Non-Symbolic Experience) and get there faster.


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