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Time and Medicine

Stephen Kern, PhD
[+] Article, Author, and Disclosure Information

From Northern Illinois University, DeKalb, Illinois.

Note: A small portion of this work is reprinted with permission from: Kern S. The Culture of Time and Space. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Univ Pr; 1983.

Requests for Reprints: Stephen Kern, PhD, 39W793 Reindeer Trail, St. Charles, IL 60175. For reprint orders in quantities exceeding 100, please contact the Reprints Coordinator; phone, 215-351-2657; e-mail, reprints@mail.acponline.org.

Ann Intern Med. 2000;132(1):3-9. doi:10.7326/0003-4819-132-1-200001040-00002
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History is about how things happen in time, but most of us remain unaware that time itself has a history. We learn to orient ourselves in the “one and only” public time of our social life without realizing that it is a historical construct, as culturally variable as hairstyles and hemlines. Even for most professional historians, time itself—the unique dynamic context of their discipline—remains pre-reflective and pre-thematic; that is, historians do not think about time's own historicality and have no language to describe it.

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