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Futures Traded

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Chapter Summary

The assumption that the future is empty is rooted in a set of social practices whose focus is on the trading of the future, and whose contingent process of development can be described in many ways. This chapter concentrates on a series of changes in social habits of mind that mark shifts in the relationship between two other ways of understanding and practically constructing the future. The first of these is the future as abstract, and the second is the future as open. The chapter then presents a story about the historical relationship between abstract, open and empty futures. The story concerns three cultural ‘themes’: (i) perfectibility; (ii) progress; and (iii) profit. Each of these shifts the balance between the assumption that the future is a predictable result of the past, and the contrasting assumption that it is the open realm of human intervention rooted in free action.

Keywords: empty future; free action; Futures; human intervention; social practices; trading

10.1163/ej.9789004161771.i-218.27
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