The Invention of Tomorrow

“A stunning and unexpected book.” – Marcela Lacub, Libération

The Invention of Tomorrow, a best seller work, suggests an innovative and brilliant thesis to the age-old question over which the best scientists have struggled: How did it happen that of all of the creatures inhabiting the earth, monkey-man became the ruler? What is it that makes the human race different from other living organisms, gives it an advantage over them, and has helped to prevent the annihilation of the human species? Philosopher Daniel Milo’s revolutionary answer is to be found in man’s concept of time, and the invention of a tomorrow.

Fifty-eight thousand years ago, one Homo sapien said to another: “See you tomorrow,” thus changing the fate of the human race and the planet. That short sentence encompasses an original thought which explains how our ancestors came to dominate the planet on which we live from the moment they understood that they were able to plan for the morrow. A natural sense of tomorrow – the ability to imagine the next day, to organize a series of tasks, to make plans, to think of the future in complex formats, stratified and long-ranged – is absent from all other creatures and, according to Milo, overshadows every moment of our lives today. Not that man stands erect, not his speech or language, not his ability to create tools, but the concept of the future and time, the understanding that there is a past, present and future, and the development of “software” in his mind capable of planning many steps ahead – this is the explanation for man’s superiority and survival.

The principle of “knowing” tomorrow is also at the heart of the human infant’s development  – the infant who is no longer a baby when he or she is cognizant of the concept of tomorrow. Unlike animals who stand on their own within minutes of their birth, the human infant is helpless until the age of three or four.  In his first year, 70 percent of his time is devoted to developing his brain; thus Milo contends that an infant is no more than an “extrauterine embryo” in the first year of its life. Even when a child’s brain reaches a stage of relative maturity, he remains in a state of economic and emotional dependency on his parents for many years to come. Animals are born and die with the same brain capacity. This is not true of human beings who are in a constant state of development, whose environment shapes and changes them throughout their life spans, halting only with the onset of Alzheimers. In other words, every individual is like clay in the hands of the potter, especially influenced by his or her immediate surroundings, which is to say by his or her parents.

However, what is the price we pay for the triumph of that Homo sapien who invented the concept of a timeline? This fascinating work, based on a thorough analogical and comparative examination of different fields of knowledge, among them biology-sociology-history-philosophy-culture and more, holds within it an enormous ambition to explain the history of mankind; many questions raised in the book are surprisingly solved by the invention of tomorrow. The book offers scientifically based answers to essential issues in our lives here and now, and it achieves this in a rich, sweeping, humoristic and particularly original manner. There is no doubt that we are looking at a treasure of cultural capital.

2009 | 219pp. | French and English translation available | Rights Sold: French, Korean, Hebrew

“The book is excellent and deserves a central place in the library of Darwinian evolution.” – Zvi Yanai, Philosopher of Science

“A colorful work to challenge our grey cells about the meaning of the human race – pure pleasure.” – Yaron Freed, author, translator and journalist

“The discourse regarding man’s superiority has never before been so stimulating and so entertaining.” – Prof. Aviad Kleinberg, historian

“A true revelation, especially if you have a past, a future and an unfulfilled passion to live in the present.” – Raanan Shaked, author, journalist and editor

Daniel Shabtai Milo is a philosopher and professor at the École des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales in Paris, specializing in the “excesses in nature and culture”. Milo also studied biology in order to understand the evolution of the creature who creates and consumes “absurdities.” He published eight books in French and English, and has directed a play and three short films. He divides his time between Paris and Israel.