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The future is the time that subjectively follows the present . The word goes back to the verb to come and in Middle High German still had a religious dimension in the sense of an imminent "coming down of God", which is also reflected in the identical word formation of the Latin ad-ventus "arrival, future" (cf. Advent ) shows. Research approaches that deal with the methods of different disciplines with a future are referred to as futures research and futurology .


Classical physics

Past and future in terms of the origin of coordinates.

In classical mechanics, time is a dimension ; H. a variable for parameterizing an event . No distinction is made between the present, future and past. Only the second law of thermodynamics gives time a fixed direction. According to this, the entropy , which indicates the number of possible states of a closed system, is always higher in the future (or at least not lower) than in the past . In this way, thermodynamics defines an arrow of time from the past into the future. The future relative to a point in time ( present ) is thus that area of ​​the time scale in which a closed system has a higher entropy than in the present.

theory of relativity

In connection with the change in the concept of time since the introduction of Albert Einstein's special theory of relativity , the terms past, present and future have also been reinterpreted. Since two events that occur simultaneously for an observer no longer occur simultaneously for an observer who is moved relative to them, the term “spatiality” replaces “simultaneity”.

The current physical definition of the concept of the future arises from the general theory of relativity . There, the future of an event is understood as the space-time domain that is reached from the event through causal world lines . An observer can therefore experience every event in his future if he goes on the corresponding world line.

Psychology and sociology

Closely related to the future is the human need for prognosis , planning and forecasting.

Robert Jungk , future thinker and inventor of future workshops , wrote in 1952: “Tomorrow is already there today, but it still disguises itself as harmless, it camouflages and reveals itself behind the familiar. The future is not a utopia cleanly detached from the present: the future has already begun. But it can still be changed if recognized in time. "

Social aspects

Every statement about the future is necessarily made from the present point of view, so that there are basically two modalities : In the case of the “present future”, a pragmatic perspective is adopted, the future course is calculated in advance or extrapolated based on existing data ( planning ). This shows that certain events can be calculated very precisely in advance, such as the trajectories of celestial bodies, the swinging of pendulums and the discharging of a battery, while other areas show chaotic behavior, such as the weather and stock prices.

A completely different picture emerges with the imagination of "future present". The rationality standards valid at that time for the construction of a “realistic”, currently adapted picture of the future are not used here. Rather, it is deliberately refrained from in order to arrive at a utopian alternative to the prevailing reality . Within methods of participation such as the future workshop, this is realized through a special phase of fantasy and utopia. Thus, by means of imagination skills and creativity, further “futures” (i.e. several design alternatives for the future) are anticipated.

From a social-philosophical point of view, there is also a close connection with the concept of (action) expectation, which generally means the anticipation of a future situation. Two styles can be distinguished: If the acting person expects normatively , then he or she orients himself to conventions and rules ( law ). If, on the other hand , it expects cognitively , the active search for options for action and possible combinations is in the foreground ( science ).

Fiction and utopia

The future is the subject of many important literary and cinematic works. The tradition of modern utopian literature goes back to Thomas More 's Utopia .

While part of the genre of science fiction with works such as Star Trek , Raumpatrouille Orion , Back to the Future but also The Time Machine and Utopia are more concerned with technical utopias, other authors such as B. Ursula K. Le Guin or Aldous Huxley presented social utopias (or dystopias ) in this genre .


  • “The past bites the tail of everything that is in the future.” Friedrich Nietzsche

See also


Web links

Wiktionary: Future  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Quotes from Robert Jungk on the future , www.zwnetz.de/jungk (2004).
  2. ^ Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche: Fragments July 1882 to Autumn 1885. Volume 4, Chapter 5.