Posts Tagged ‘future studies’

Bringing In the Future: An Essay on Time

By Johan Galtung

International Sociological Association Prize
New School for Social Research, New York NY, 15 Nov 2016

The West, and Western sciences in particular, have a peculiar way of conceptualizing time; derived from two millennia Christianity.

Thus, in the civilizations of Hinduism, Buddhism, China and Japan, to mention some, time flows from eternity to eternity. In the West (and Islam is similar), there is a Beginning (Creation for the religious, Big Bang for the secular), and an Ending, the End Time (Armageddon for the religious, entropy, death, etc. for others).

In others, time flows from past into a possibly different future; in the West, the future is continuous with the past. In the natural sciences, “laws” from the past are automatically valid for the future; reality being as stable as the planetary system, the galaxy; astronomy being the model. The Creation has been finished, once and for all.

In the social sciences, the future is largely off limits, taboo; predictions are often discarded as “wild speculations”. Extension of built-in trends into the future is permitted, but not forecasting with qualitative jumps. The underlying assumption is stable equilibrium, things have found their place and that’s it. Thus, no forecasting of (early) modernity during the Middle Ages, let alone working for it.

That is in theory, but the practice is different. People design their individual careers – life trajectories – and have always done so. For collective life there is politics, designing future societies.

But the social sciences are not supposed to be in it. They approach past and present with Read the rest of this entry »

Spain 2050 – Ten predictions

By Johan Galtung

Alfaz; History group, Municipio, Spain

Can we know the future? Rhetorical answer: can we know the past?

We rewrite history all the time, not because facts become dubious and new facts appear, but because our angle, perspective, changes. Say, from a series of kings, presidents etc. and their exercise of military and political power to economic and cultural changes in the life of common people, in their wellbeing and identity. Quite some change.

Will we arrive at that single, true, objective perspective?

No, objectivity may be multi-subjective, not inter-subjective. This is why Al Jazeera is so much better for knowing the present than CNN, which presents the US angle, and if there are other angles a US “expert” will give the final interpretation. Al Jazeera presents many angles of many parties and leaves final interpretations to the viewer.

How can we shed some light into the future? Basically there are two approaches: the Cartesian based on extending trends, and daoism based on holism and dialectics. They do not exclude each other.

Thus, there are three world trends that certainly affect Spain… Read the rest of this entry »


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