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The Future Told

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Chapter Summary

This chapter focuses on the knowledge element of our constellation of action, knowledge and ethics. It considers who have been and who are still thought of as experts on the future, examines the sources of their specialist knowledge and surveys the methods employed. The chapter takes the reader on a journey that extends from early Western cultural activity to the contemporary world of planning and producing futures by scientific, technological, economic and political means. Along the way it considers the many varied tools that have been employed to know the unknowable, to achieve glimpses of the not yet, gain knowledge before the event, provide advance warning, conjecture about possibilities and prepare for uncertainties. Finally, it familiarises the reader with practices of divination, prophecy, prediction, forecasting, foresight and scenario planning to offer comparative analyses that establish both continuity and distinctions between futures told across the ages.

Keywords: action; divination; early Western cultural activity; ethics; future; knowledge; prophecy; scenario planning



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