Since the past and present (or study of them) both fall under subjectivist inquiry and may ultimately lead us to a self-serving relativism, we are really left with only one other source of knowledge: the future. I realize that by even mentioning this as a viable alternative, I have stepped outside the realm of modern science into something unprecedented at best, and more likely along the lines of unfounded superstitious beliefs.
Hard science simultaneously preaches the concept of the predictable behavior of matter and an unscripted nature of the future. How does this work? There is an assumption (based on their Positivist foundations) that objects exist only in the present. Just as the past becomes figments of our memory, so the future is only figments of our imagination. Reality exists only in the present. Time travel is a pipe dream. Now, a successful experiment in time travel might be able to change that, but to my knowledge, no such experiment has been received by the scientific community. For them, this option is largely excluded.
Other views exist, and have existed with more precedence than the perspective of hard science. Many spiritual beliefs advocate for the existence of reality set in the future and placed within the context of an overarching meta-narrative in which we play the part of participants and not chief observers or manipulators. Specifics of our participation may vary, but generally all end with the final say to the direction being given to a source outside of us – even if only given in a passive manner. For simplicity’s sake I’m going to refer to two main categories of future-oriented focus: the Prophet and the Mystic.
The Prophet interacts with some form of divine intelligence beyond the normal rules and boundaries of life, gathering insight and wisdom and then becoming a catalyst for the will of the Outsider. The Prophet’s accuracy in prediction is linked to the Outsider’s power to bring about the events of proclamation, or in other words, the prophet is only as good as their god.
The Mystic, on the other hand, acts more as a free agent: interacting with divine others, but with an independent agenda of their own. Mystics are seekers of truth and power beyond the normal scope of natural human experience. The accuracy of their own predictions depends upon their own strength, one of the primary markers setting them apart from prophets.
Now, setting aside the discussion on whether or not divine beings exist and what or who they may be, we have come to a crossroads. We cannot seek enlightenment from the future if we set our epistemology, our way of knowing things, in exclusively objective terms (at least under the current scientific regime and repertoire). Whether we seek truth under the guidance of an outside source as Prophets, or on our own strength as Mystics, we have to transcend our present world if we hope to touch the future.
One more section to go.