When you look at humanity as a trajectory, as a process of becoming, it alters your orientation to time. You see that we’ve moved from an existence much like our fellow primates, through a agrarian world of villages, into a series of empires, states, nations and world-systems into today’s proto-global-techno-civilization.
In particular, the tremendous changes of the last century revealed the intensity of this impulse of unfolding. Humanity completed a shift from rural agriculutre through industrialization into the start of our wired post-modern information age. This movement was propelled by our explosively expanding field of knowledge, including an understanding of the terms of and conditions of our existence within a vast cosmos and within a deep ocean of time.
So we can see that we humans aren’t what we were yesterday, we’re not what we have been, rather we’re a becoming tomorrow. Our collective existence is pointed towards the future, towards revealing the possible.
As humans, our present always incorporates the past and the future. Having a mind involves being aware of existing within a continuum of time, having a past and a future. For any organism, mind (at whatever level) exists to allow it function better within it’s environment through learning. Learning incorporates the environment (or aspects of it).into the mind. The future exists as a projection, a field for testing alternative actions.
Minds, then, carry the weight of the past. I believe that human minds have been overly weighed down by this. We live too much turned back towards the past, the what-has-been. When we dwell upon the past, we are dwelling in the past, we make ourselves shadows of the past.
We look too much at history as a mirror. Human history doesn’t define humanity, we aren’t encapsulated by it. History is just the process of how we got here, it is the human up till now. The value of history is as information to help us enhance our human future.
The problem with the past is that is has already happened, it is a factuality. And it can’t be changed, No amount of wishing, dreaming or scheming can alter or re-arrange it. No creative impulse, no human invention can effect it in any way. The past is a field void of possibility.
We humans are always poised at the edge of the future. For us, the present moment is always a tangible engagement with possibility, an opportunity for creative human self-becoming.
One can choose to expend one’s life echoing the past. Or you can devote one’s life to helping create a brighter human future. History isn’t a spectator sport. The future is what we humans will make it. Let us work together to enable a world where humans, and all of life, can flourish.
- The Human as Trajectory
- Science and Human Purpose