Malagasy Time Conceptions

Comparative Philosophy 8 (1):63-81 (2017)
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In this paper I discuss Øyvind Dahl’s argument for the conclusion that Malagasy people conceive of the future as coming from behind them and not as being before them as most worldviews do. I argue that we have good reason not to attribute this view to Malagasy people. First, it would mark an inefficient and anomalous way of keeping track of the past and future. Second, the linguistic and testimonial evidence presented by Dahl doesn’t support the conclusion. Even though this specific argument fails, Dahl has many enlightening things to say about Malagasy time conceptions, such as the various time-conceptions that figure more predominantly in their worldview as opposed to the general modern Western worldview. Dahl is right that successful communication for Westerners in Madagascar requires understanding that the Malagasy worldview is structured more by an event-related conception of time than the general modern Western worldview. I also show in this paper that the three time conceptions Dahl outlines are relevant to living a good life.

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Casey Woodling
Coastal Carolina University


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