(2019) Axiomathes 29 (1).

The future as an undefined and open time

a Bergsonian approach

Jonathan Jancsary

pp. 61-80

The questions what the future will bring and if and how it is possible to anticipate coming events have intrigued human beings since the dawn of time. Over the course of the centuries human beings have found better and more sophisticated ways to calculate and predict certain prospective occurrences, for example earthquakes, thunderstorms et cetera. In the Europe of the nineteenth century this potential of rational (natural) sciences led to the idea that it would once be possible to anticipate everything that will happen in the universe, going as far as that it should even become predictable how human beings will develop and which actions they will choose. The French philosopher Henri Bergson verbally fought against this kind of belief and developed a so-called process ontology, which claims that nothing in the universe is ever fixed. In fact everything that exists is an ongoing and evolutionary process (élan vital) without a fixed goal. And since—according to Bergson—our rational mind is solely capable of understanding and therefore predicting rigid entities but not processes, any belief in the complete predictability of the universe must be abandoned. Instead, we should focus on the possibilities of an open, spontaneous and creative future, which we will only then be able to understand, if we get more in touch with our so-called intuitive faculty, which is able to fathom a process in its processual state.

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Full citation [Harvard style]:

Jancsary, J. (2019). The future as an undefined and open time: a Bergsonian approach. Axiomathes 29 (1), pp. 61-80.

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