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Future Perfect

Uploaded by palma on Oct 09, 2000

Sam Vaknin's Psychology, Philosophy, Economics and Foreign Affairs Web Sites


Many futurologists - professional (Toffler) and less so (Naisbitt) - tried their hand at predicting the future. They proved quite successful at predicting major trends but not as lucky in delineating their details. This is because, inevitably, every futurologist has to resort to crude tools such as extrapolation. The modern day versions of biblical prophets are much better informed - and this, precisely, seems to be the problem. The cluttered information obstructs the outlines of the philosophically and conceptually most important elements.

The futurologist has to divine which - of a host - of changes which occur in his times and place ushers in a new era. Since the speed at which human societies change has radically accelerated - the futurologist's work has become more compounded and less certain.

It is better to stick to truisms, however banal. True and tried is the key to successful (and, therefore, useful) predictions. What can we rely upon which is immutable and invariant, not dependent on cultural context, technological level, or geopolitical developments?

Human nature, naturally.

The introduction of human nature into the equation which should yield the prediction may further complicate it. Human nature is, arguably, the most complex thing in the universe. It is characteristically unpredictable and behaviourally stochastic. It is not the kind of paradigm conducive to clear-cut, unequivocal, unambiguous forecasts.

This is why it is advisable to isolate two or three axes around which human nature - or its more explicit manifestations - revolves. These organizational principles must possess comprehensive explanatory powers, on the one hand - and exhibit some kind of synergy, on the other hand.

I propose such a trio : Individuality, Collectivism and Time.

Individuation is the Separation principle, the human yearning for uniqueness and idiosyncrasy, for distinction and self sufficiency, for independence and self expression.

Collectivism is the human propensity to agglomerate, to stick together, to assemble, the herd instincts and the group behaviours.

Time is the principle which connects both. It is the bridge linking individual and society. It is an epiphenomenon of society. In other words, it arises only when people assemble and can compare themselves to others. This is not Time in the physical sense, which is discernible through the relative positions and physical states of physical systems. Every human - alone as he may be - is bound to notice it....

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Uploaded by:   palma

Date:   10/09/2000

Category:   Social Issues

Length:   11 pages (2,471 words)

Views:   1726

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