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Future seeing and destiny

Washington, DC
Long title
Future seeing and destiny; or, The philosophy of philosophies
Variant titles
Future seeing and philosophy of philosophies (1926)


A typically grandiose and ill-natured piece of nonsense. (This review relates to the 1926 edition rather than the larger 1912 first edition.)

Wouldn't we all like to see into the future? Future Seeing promises to give us that power, which if true, would make this claim seem quite modest:-

This book should remain with you all the rest of your life. It should supersede all other works in your experiences.

But you may be disappointed if you read on: Edgerly is merely talking up his work, as he so often does, like a carnival barker. Superficially you seem to get a lot for your money: 800 'lessons' in more than 500 pages, but verbosity does not equal value.

Many of the early lessons could are merely advice on how to live one's life prudently, dressed up as a philosophy of life which looks to the past to learn how to anticipate the future. These lessons include:-

  • Take no chances. Under which heading, Edgerly advises "if you train your mind to avoid taking chances, you will not lose. It is then a mathematical certainty that you will win".
  • Habits of thrift. Which teaches that you should "accumulate money against a rainy day" and "acquire the habit of saving".
  • Playing safe. Here we are told to "study real estate conditions".
  • Making millions. Which includes the timeless advice that "steel is as safe on the one hand as mining stocks are unsafe on the other".
  • Uses of gayety[sic]. Here we may observe that Edgerly does not much like people enjoying themselves, going to theatres and the like, except insofar as "it unlooses the purse-strings of others and lets you help yourself to their wastefulness".

One has the feeling at times of being lectured by a misanthropic elderly uncle to whom one defers in the hope of being left a little something, as he advises one to "be selfish", that nature "adopts methods to eliminate useless people from the earth", and that "iron laws are needed".

He gets rather excited about iron in this book. Not only iron laws but iron men and women are wanted, for "the age of iron" which is ahead. For this new age, too: "new plants should be invented" as it may be nature's intention to use "less nitrogen and more iron even in tissue building", so that:-

The skin and tissue and the organs, bones and nerves should be built of a different food material. While the skin will not resist the attack of sharp instruments, it will do so in part, and almost sufficiently to save the vital parts and so prevent murder. The bones will be able to endure almost any kind of fall, except one that is extraordinary.

Thus cometh the superman.

Edgerly makes little accommodation for argument in stating his views; indeed, there can sure be none, given that:-

A fact is self-evident when the average mind is able to see its existence as clearly as the mind that is highly intellectual.

A law is self-evident when it defies on its face any and every possibility of contradiction.

... Such facts and such laws alone will we use in this study. All speculation and all theorizing will be avoided.

Amongst Edgerly's self-evident facts are that "electricity is [a] form of Thought-activity", "an atom of Oxygen ... contains about 11,200 electrons", the "square is very much greater than the cube", comets are kept from falling into the sun by "the repellent force of [the sun's] light" and, curiously, given the previous statement, "in the absence of air, light cannot exist".

But this deep understanding of science is nothing beside the power of future-seeing. The near future - the 1930s and 40s - would be, according to Edgerly, one straight out of the science fiction of the day, with "airships thousands of feet long", cities with moving walkways, and Tesla's wireless power (which despite an army of devout believers never seems to be realised) used to run "ships without engines".

Even this compelling vision is capped by the climax of the book, which reveals what happens after death! Yes, we are going to "Lasting Land", where the the hills are literally alive with the sound of music, those of us at least who:-

... loved life, devoted more or less time to making plans or expressing hope for individual ownership eventually...

Yes, it's a heaven for home owners, where the "ground everywhere is made of jewels". To get in, you have to sign Edgerly's covenant and say your prayers three times daily, each prayer being an unimpressive variant on the Lord's Prayer. Otherwise, though I hate to pass on the bad news:

Those who refuse to heed this MESSAGE, do so in the face of their own DOOM.