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In the Presence of the Future

Mapping the Roads to Tomorrow

Georg Schmid

The divide between the techno-scientific and the humanities paradigm has critically endangered general comprehension. The prolegomena to a «unified field theory of futurology» presented here attempt to reconcile these epistemological models by meticulously investigating a gamut of supposedly separate areas, from the social use of art or religion via demographic, economic and technological data to moral and political philosophy. This highly panoramatic and integrative inspection of problems humankind will be facing in the near and foreseeable future yields novel perspectives and a superior grasp of beneficial social practice.


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Sir Martin Rees has recently reckoned that our chances of making it through this century are about fifty fifty (Rees 2003). I wouldn't dare to adjust the estimate of such a renowned scientist; still, I think Rees's reckoning could well err "on the wrong side" by being too optimistic. As the present essay sets out to demonstrate why there is much reason to look at our prospects more glumly, some new ideas why we have such difficulties with the future have to be put forth. This seems to be prerequisite to describing how we deal with the bleak outlook; it can be shown, I think, that we have maneuvered ourselves into a cul-de-sac by acting the "DWM." Simple calculating, however, also demands sketches of sane reactions to the deadly perils we are facing. Without reflections on how to respond to these threatening dangers, a book on the future wouldn't make much sense. But it should also be noted that the accent is on "narrative:" that is to say, we'll first of all have a close look at the verbal strategies employed to sketch our probable future–or possible, plausible futures. We'll see that these ideations are widely guided by vague images rather than by strictly linguistic techniques; the term imagination is indeed quite fitting. Arguing is thus made more complicated; on the other hand, the imagery to be taken into account is intrinsically very re- vealing. These imaginations, wish dreams and "fear dreams," and their respective schemes are treacherous: they...

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