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Prolepsis is an old and multifaceted term that could not be more significant in relation to the possible. From its original epicurean meaning, referring to the criteria of truth whereby we make judgments about the reality we perceive, prolepsis is generally associated with the notion of anticipation. In argumentation studies, prolepsis alludes to the anticipation of a possible counter-argument to one’s discourse in order to answer it in advance, while in narratology it refers to the narrative figure of flashforward or the anticipation of future events in a storyline. After providing some definitions of prolepsis, along with an historical contextualization of this term, this chapter delves into some current lines of research based on this concept with a particular focus on the sociocultural studies on developmental psychology and collective memory. The concluding discussion reflects on the theoretical significance of prolepsis in relation to the study of the possible in a technology-driven world, marked by acceleration of time and uncertainty.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Palgrave Encyclopedia of the Possible
EditorsVlad P. Glăveanu
Number of pages8
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
Publication date2020
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • prolepsis, anticipation, future orientation, development, sociocultural psychology, collective memory


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