To read this content please select one of the options below:

Towards an ontology of the present moment

Anthony Hodgson (Based at the International Futures Forum, Aberdour, UK)

On the Horizon

ISSN: 1074-8121

Article publication date: 25 January 2013




The purpose of this paper is to propose that conceptions of time and future that are currently in use restrict the possibilities for framing decision making. By privileging the notion of present moment over that of linear time, a more comprehensive framing of what it means to consider what influences our judgements. The ontology of the present moment provides a theoretical context for knowing what we can of the future in a more comprehensive way.


A review of ways of knowing the future that extends beyond linear assumptions of time leads to consideration of anticipatory systems and of the relationship between purpose and causality. It leads further into conjecture that the present moment is more ontologically fundamental than what we customarily refer to as past, present and future.


On this foundation, examination of experience of now reveals a multidimensionality which can include retrocausality, the possibility of the future influencing the present and the importance of latent patterning in determining events.

Research limitations/implications

The notion of the present moment has much in common with second order cybernetics and indicates a possible way of bringing systems thinking, especially boundary critique, to futures thinking and strategic decision making.

Practical implications

Although basically a theoretical paper, the framework does suggest possibilities for redesigning futures practice through using the present moment as a meta‐framing critique technique to reveal more clearly underlying assumptions in both futures studies and systems thinking.


In the context of a world where serious inability to see what is coming is pervasive in management and governance, a fresh look at fundamental assumptions may reveal flawed decision thinking and indicate ways of improvement.



Hodgson, A. (2013), "Towards an ontology of the present moment", On the Horizon, Vol. 21 No. 1, pp. 24-38.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2013, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Related articles