Backwards Causality


It’s quite fruitless, that thing we do, trying to control what’s happening in the present in order to make the future into what it ought to be, when it’s the future that’s causing the present, and not the other way around.

Isn’t it obvious? Or at least plausible – that what’s happening now is merely the prelude and lead-up of what’s about to become? That it merely serves to be in accordance with whatever eventuality is about to occur?

Of course, these ideas of causality, whether of the backwards or the ordinary kind, are merely ways of framing experience in terms of some kind of narrative structure. But as I get to pick and choose between them, this backwards way is how I like to think about it.

The way I figure, we’ve been conditioned to think about cause and effect the wrong way around. An anemic and depressing metaphysic wherein the action determines the outcome comes imposed through culture and language; but there’s no reason why we can’t unwind that philosophy and instead take on this more fascinating outlook on the whole thing. Because that’s what I feel; that thinking in terms of a backwards causality is much more fun than the other way around.

Under this view, things are allowed to happen for a reason. What lies ahead isn’t the result of what’s happening now, but what’s occurring in the present is the necessary alignment with what’s about to come into form. There’s something happening in the future with which the present must be in accord, that requires things to happen the way they do such that what lies ahead can be what it is due to become.

This also allows us to answer why-questions in terms of what we can expect from the future, rather than what follows from the past. Questions about the past—why it happened, and so on—are perfectly answered in terms of what the future and the present brought into being. Why did the house burn down? It wasn’t because you were playing with matches – but you were playing with matches because you were about to find a new place to live.

Why did you break up with your girlfriend? It wasn’t because of that fight you had. You fought because you were about to move on to something greater and more fulfilling.

And why did you get sick? It wasn’t a virus. That virus merely appeared to provide a narrativistic reason for the forthcoming episode of suffering and pain; which in turn established a way for a further element in the arc, and so on in an ever revealing storyline dictated by an obvious intelligence.

And You, as a distinct character inhabiting this dreamstate, is not the result of what happened before – rather, the past is what the future called for, such that you could arrive as you are in the present – and here, in the now, the future continues to shape your actions and your choices so as to set the stage for an ever unfolding account of how you will come to be what-you’re-about-to-become.

On board yet? I don’t know how to otherwise sell it, except to tell you that if there ever was an easy way of seeing more magic in life, I’d say this is it.


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