8. April 2021
The attempt to grasp the present as a general condition, that is, to understand the historical specificity of today and transform that understanding into timely actions within the present, lies in the heart of modernity. When the world is formed by us (and not through divine interventions), the present becomes a moment of action: if we want to take our destiny in our own hands, we must act now rather than later. As a condition, the present is inherently contingent: it is a place of contestation where not only different realities coincide, but also where the tension between the past and the future is manifested. This is what Hannah Arendt (1961) had in
mind when she gave her “six exercises in political thought” the title Between Past and Future.
Instead of joining tradition and telos (that is, sustaining a continuity between the past to the future), the present presents itself, for Arendt, as a gap. Since the attempts to close this gap easily evoke problems (like fascist restorations of a Golden Age), Arendt’s task was to write about “how to move in this gap–the only region perhaps where truth eventually will appear” (Arendt 1961: 14).