Future - Philosophy

Philosophy

"The trouble with the future is that it's so much less knowable than the past."

John Lewis Gaddis, The Landscape of History.

In the philosophy of time, presentism is the belief that only the present exists and the future and the past are unreal. Past and future "entities" are to be construed as logical constructions or fictions. The opposite of presentism is 'eternalism', which is the belief that things in the past and things yet to come exist eternally. One other view (that has not been held by very many philosophers) is sometimes called the 'growing block' theory of time, which is a theory that takes the past and present to exist but the future to be nonexistent.

Presentism is compatible with Galilean relativity, in which time is independent of space but is probably incompatible with Lorentzian/Einsteinian relativity in conjunction with certain other philosophical theses which many find uncontroversial. Saint Augustine proposed that the present is a knife edge between the past and the future and could not contain any extended period of time.

Contrary to Saint Augustine, some philosophers propose that conscious experience is extended in time. For instance, William James said that time is "the short duration of which we are immediately and incessantly sensible". Augustine proposed that God is outside of time and present for all times, in eternity. Other early philosophers who were presentists include the Buddhists (in the tradition of Indian Buddhism). A leading scholar from the modern era on Buddhist philosophy is Stcherbatsky, who has written extensively on Buddhist presentism:

Everything past is unreal, everything future is unreal, everything imagined, absent, mental... is unreal... Ultimately real is only the present moment of physical efficiency .

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