What Is Temporocentrism?

Though not a word recognized by standard dictionaries, the meaning of “temporocentrism” can be ascertained from the word’s etymology and contextual references. The term is a concept generally recognized in sociology and anthropology to refer to a cultural bias that views historical times as inferior to present day.

According to Omnilexica, the suffix “-centrism” refers to the “focus on, or belief in the superiority of, one culture, people, place, or other thing.” When the suffix is added to “temporo-,” which is a reference to chronological time, the resulting word concerns the belief that one’s own time period is better than those past.

Temporocentrism is the temporal equivalent of ethnocentrism, a term commonly used in anthropology that was first coined by William G. Sumner in 1906 to describe the cultural bias of an individual who views the world and its cultures from the perspective of his own group. Applying the context of ethnocentrism to a chronological vantage point, then, temporocentrism is the belief, whether consciously held or unconsciously, that one’s own time is more important than the past or future. Individuals with a temporocentric perspective judge historical events on the basis of contemporary standards rather than in their own context, often resulting in fallacy.