Creating the Future

Palgrave Encyclopedia of the Possible (2021)
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Abstract
“Creating the future” is a notion introduced by Alfred North Whitehead to define the task of universities and the function of philosophy. Implicitly, it is a rejection of the idea that the future is already determined, and in some sense, already exists, with the appearance of temporal becoming an illusion. “Creation” originally meant “the action of causing to exist”, or “a coming into being”. The “future” is not normally considered to be what can be created. Originally, it meant “yet to be”. It now tends to be defined in relation to time, as “the time to come”, where “time” is assumed to be an independent existent along with space as the “containers” of material beings, with the future in some sense pre-existing its becoming present. The quantity of “matter” or “mass-energy” is assumed to be constant and to change its position and configurations in predictable ways over time. To refer to the future as being created is to reject this view of the universe and the basic concepts that define it, replacing these with concepts that can make intelligible the freedom of and creativity of people, the future as in process of being created, and humans as partially responsible for what future is created. It is to recognize that there are real possibilities that can be envisioned, understood, chosen, and brought into existence, with some process philosophers claiming that new possibilities can also be created.
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Archival date: 2021-05-02
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