The future as an ideal

There is one quite simple objection to the Future as an ideal.  The objection is that the Future does not exist.  The Future is non-existent; therefore the Future is dead.  It is “le Néant,” as Danton said.  The Past is existent, and therefore the Past is alive.  He who lives in past affairs lives in vivid and varied affairs, in turbulent, disputatious, and democratic affairs.  He who lives in the future lives in a featureless blank; he lives in impersonality; he lives in Nirvana.  The past is democratic, because it is a people.  The future is despotic, because it is a caprice.  Each man is alone in his prediction, just as each man is alone in a dream.  If I turn my face to the past I immediately find myself in the presence of Phidippides, who could outrace me; of Coeur-de-Lion, who could knock me down; of Erasmus, who could greatly improve my Latin; of Newton, who could explain very clearly things that I could not understand; of Robin Hood, who could beat me in a game of archery; or of William Shakespeare, who might possibly be my superior in a game of bouts-rimés.  But when I turn my face to the future, then everybody bows down to me; then everybody prostrates himself; because there is nobody there but myself.

The Illustrated London News, 18 December 1909.

Published in: on May 12, 2010 at 7:25 am  Leave a Comment  

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