Ways We See the Future: Futurist Scenarios As Casts of Mind

Seeing the Future

It’s fascinating and fun to speculate about the future. Everyone does it. Seers and philosophers do it. Professional futurists do it. We’re always keeping a lookout for “the signs of the times.” Trying to foresee and anticipate the future seems to be one of humanity’s favorite pastimes.

There are those who would like to believe that the shape of the future and the fate of the world can be critically deduced and observantly inducted through philosophical reasoning and scientific empiricism. While critical thinking and empirical observation are two of our most powerful modernist methods for knowing the world in which we live, when it comes to matters of how we see the world and of how we envision the future it soon becomes apparent that other factors come into play. I’ll expound upon these at another time. For now I’d like to simply identify seven different ways that people see the future, and acknowledge that in so far as these are casts of mind there is little that philosophy and science can do to change poeple’s minds about such matters.

1. The Utopians: Universal beatitude and peace is coming

2. The Apocalyptics: “The End is near; Our Fate is Doomed”

3. The Dystopians: “The Brave New World of Soma for all”

4. The Anarchists: “Creative destruction is necessary”

5. Progress: “Not perfection, but we’re getting better”

6. Decline: “All Great Empires eventually come to an end”

7: Muddling through: “The Best and Worst of Times”

I’ll elaborate upon each of these at another time. It is worth noting that only the 7th option is “non-dual” rather than “dual” since it does not depend upon an “either-or” (left brain) choice between “better or worse” but upon a “both-and” (right-brain) dialectical and integrative paradox.

In any case, these seem to be seven instinctive mind-sets that serve as our “starting points” for what we call “thinking” so it is hard to call them into question. They do not render the world to us “as-it-is” but “as-we-see-it.”


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