Friday, May 19, 2017

"Why the Future Is Always on Your Mind"

Via InstapunditThe founder of positive psychology, Penn’s Martin Seligman, has joined with colleagues to start another field, prospective psychology. He and I argue in the NYT that Homo sapiens is a misnomer, because calling ourselves the “wise man” is more of a boast than a description. What makes us wise? What sets us apart? Other animals live in the moment, but we can’t stop thinking about tomorrow.
A more apt name for our species would be Homo prospectus, because we thrive by considering our prospects. The power of prospection is what makes us wise. Looking into the future, consciously and unconsciously, is a central function of our large brain, as psychologists and neuroscientists have discovered — rather belatedly, because for the past century most researchers have assumed that we’re prisoners of the past and the present.
Read the whole thing. Or check out the book-length version, Homo Prospectus.


Lem said...

Tom Wolfe has his own idea for a more precise name than homo sapien, Homo Loquax, as in human talking. From a lecture ChipA linked to last year...

ricpic said...


When a deer crosses the road it doesn't first check both ways for cars.
The onus is ours. On the other hand deers ain't going to Mars.

ndspinelli said...

Depression, anxiety, panic, is often caused by fretting about the uncertain future. That's not to say we should not look ahead. For glass half full people, it's a positive. For glass half empty, it can lead to the aforementioned dysfunctions. Generally, we have become a culture that does not live like animals, in the moment. Living in the moment is just as important as seeing the future, sometimes MUCH more important. Like most everything, it's about finding that balance, looking ahead, but appreciating the moment. Even if the moment is tragic. I tell people going through a death in the family to let the grief and pain wash over you. Feel it. I've gotten thanks for that advice.