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We understand that the segregation of our consciousness into present, past, and future is both a fiction and an oddly self-referential framework; your present was part of your mother’s future, and your children’s past will be in part your present. Nothing is generally wrong with structuring our consciousness of time in this conventional manner, and it often works well enough. In the case of climate change, however, the sharp division of time into past, present, and future has been desperately misleading and has, most importantly, hidden from view the extent of the responsibility of those of us alive now. The narrowing of our consciousness of time smooths the way to divorcing ourselves from responsibility for developments in the past and the future with which our lives are in fact deeply intertwined.

Does 'which' refer to 'the past and the future'?

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  • 2
    I think it refers to 'developments'. Nov 17, 2022 at 16:14
  • I think we are intertwined with the past, present and future and can't avoid taking responsibility.
    – gomadeng
    Nov 17, 2022 at 16:22
  • 2
    The actual text is ambiguous. In principle, which could actually just refer back to the future. OR it could refer to the past and the future. OR it could refer to developments (as it happens, modified by in the past and the future - but that entire adjectival element could be removed without significantly affecting either syntax or meaning). To be honest though, it's not obvious to me why in the past and the future is specified at all - I doubt the writer intended to exclude current developments, and "past, current and future developments" is everything. Nov 17, 2022 at 18:28

1 Answer 1

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The antecedent of "which" should be "the future."

... divorcing ourselves from responsibility for developments in the past and (divorcing ourselves from) enter image description herethe future with which our lives are in fact deeply intertwined.

enter image description here

I believe 2 is right: what is omitted should be "from responsibility for" since the passage (https://www.google.com/books/edition/The_Pivotal_Generation/B1UwEAAAQBAJ?hl=en&gbpv=0) goes on talking about our responsibility for past and future.

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  • Hi Nanhee, what is "2"? Are you referring to one of the comments which had two upvotes? Please take the Tour to familiarize yourself with our platform :) Welcome to ELL!
    – Joachim
    Jan 28, 2023 at 15:16
  • 1
    by "2," I meant the second picture. what is omitted in the above sentence should be "from responsibility for" (based on the following passage that I linked to), instead of "from." Jan 29, 2023 at 17:12

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