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Thomä, Dieter

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Neue Zürcher Zeitung - Switzerland | 09/05/2011

Dieter Thomä on obsession with the present

The philosopher Dieter Thomä takes a worried look in the liberal-conservative daily Neue Zürcher Zeitung at how society tends to suppress any notion of the future: "The world suffers from a widespread but little-studied malaise. It's name: obsession with the present. Symptoms of this illness emerge everywhere the future is forgotten, and examples can be found in all walks of life. Millions of people might think once in a while about the looming climate catastrophe, then go on to hasten its advent on a daily basis. Many states have installed switchyards in their budget policies by means of which one can benefit now and leave the worst for later. ... Anyone who wants to flee from insecurity simply puts it out of their mind, blends the future out as much as possible and lives firmly in the present. Sometimes such present-obsessed people may have bad dreams. But in them it is no longer, as in Karl Marx' famous phrase, 'the tradition of all the dead generations' that 'weighs like a nightmare on the brain of the living', but the future of all as yet unborn. However there's one thing such present-obsessed people won't be able to prevent: the future catching up on them at one point or another."

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