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The future and futures

A new book provides a synthesis of the tools that can help us develop the ability to analyse the passing of time

Looking to the future in an astute and conscious manner. It is impossible to really predict what is going to happen in any of our lives, and in the various sections of society, and this unpredictability extends to the management of the organisation of production, and of course of the economy in all its facets. Attempting to predict what will happen tomorrow, however, is not something that should be disregarded; we must ensure, as we often already do, that we have adequate cognitive tools in order to prevent ourselves from being tempted to transform the imaginary into reality. Reading L’enigma del futuro (‘The enigma of the future’) by Andrea Iacona is extremely useful (as well as fascinating) for anyone seeking to fill a toolbox for analysing the future. This is an exercise that can determine the fate of individuals and entire communities in certain spheres.

Iacona teaches logic and reasoning at the University of Turin, and progresses through an analysis of time (and therefore of past, present and future events), a feat that is far from easy, but nonetheless certainly useful to attempt. There are two potential starting points: on the one hand, human beings regard the future as something real, and believe that there are answers to their questions and want to know what they are. At the same time, they are convinced that they can change the course of events with the choices they make.

Iacona guides the reader; he starts by identifying the problem (the study of which he calls ‘future contingents’), and then moves on to the various ways we can analyse time, before presenting the cognitive tools that can help us to answer the question ‘what lies ahead of us?’ The themes of fatalism, indeterminacy and interpretation are then addressed, before Iacona looks at historical and personal time.

This is not an easy read, even though the author writes clearly and totally comprehensibly. It is the subject matter that is somewhat complex to deal with. It remains however an extremely useful book (and among other things, relatively short), which revolves around an important theme, perhaps even more so today than in the past.

 

L’enigma del futuro
Andrea Iacona
il Mulino, 2019