Q. (theatrically) Do you realize, Dr. Seldon, that you are speaking of an Empire that has stood for twelve thousand years, through all the vicissitudes of the generations, and which has behind it the good wishes and love of a quadrillion human beings?
A. I am aware both of the present status and the past history of the Empire. Without disrespect, I must claim a far better knowledge of it than any in this room. (I.6.72-73)
What's Seldon saying here? After all, it is his study of the past that has led to his predictions of the future. Does that mean we're all just part of an endless mathematical formula, where past plus present equals future? Is that an unsettling notion—or a comforting one?