Why do we think of the future as being in front?

“Where is the future? The tendency in our culture – and most, but not all, others – is to compare the body’s movement through space with its passage through time: ahead are the things we are on our way to encounter. We intuit that the past is linked to the space behind and the future to that in front. But research in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: General has found that some Western people buck this tendency: those born blind. (…)

Intriguingly, the use or not of a forward-backward spatial metaphor may have implications for the way that sighted and blind people experience time. For sighted people, past research has shown that events X months in the future feel subjectively closer than an event X months in the past – this makes sense in terms of a forward-backward spatial metaphor considering that the future is something that is always looming (visually) closer, while the past is always retreating. (…)

Blind people do show some time-space mappings: they, like sighted people, associate past events with the left-hand side of space rather than the right. This may reflect associations built up through reading, as both Western alphabetic text and braille share a left-to-right format. It seems that, whether sighted or blind, our minds use whatever reference points are available to make sense of the dimension that colours everything but can never quite be grasped – the experience by which, in the words of St Augustine, “what is present may proceed to become absent.”

Source: https://digest.bps.org.uk/2018/03/21/is-the-future-ahead-not-for-those-born-blind/



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