Habitum Alteram Naturam – Part 3

Updated 14-Sep-2023

Simplicity and Complexity

Habits are simple, nature complex. This formulation is meant to help understand how to talk about and act regarding the future. Change is necessary, and it is even possible. How do we conceive of this possibility? How do we talk about it?

The real question regarding talk, is to what degree is talking needed for change, that is action which creates change. Perhaps not at all. In fact, stopping talking can be such a powerful catalyst for change that perhaps the proliferation of social media inhibits needed change in our world. Action is the mediator between language and reality, not language the mediator between action and reality.

Possibility and Predictability

David Ben-Gurion wrote that "all experts are experts on what has happened." As we again try and focus our minds on the future, on possibility, is it possible to be an expert of the future? Again, the question of futurology and futurologists present itself.

In a November 4, 2008 article published in the Bangkok Post, Uri Avnery wrote:

In a world in which a person like Barack Hussein Obama can appear from nowhere and advance within a few years to the highest levels of world politics, nothing is predictable--and therefore everything is possible.

Here we have an insight that at first appears quite promising in terms of pregnant with possibility. But there is a fundamental error here. Predictability is about knowing. We precisely cannot say that "everything is possible", since we don't know that. All we get from this formulation is that we cannot predict, we cannot say what is possible. We most certainly, therefore, cannot say that everything is possible. Here there is a breakdown in what we can know, not a fundamental freeing of our mind from predictability. The problem is a mistake in thinking that an epistemological failure (inability to predict) has ontological weight (making everything possible).

This, then, is the problem of talk of the future freed from predictability. That is futurology loses its status as science, and attempts to don the robes of a prophetic voice, becoming a teller of stories, of possibilities.

The Return to the Present

Meditations on the future are simply not fruitful, unmoored as the futurology has become from its presumed foundations. Instead it is precisely the present which deserves the attention and intentions. The complexity of possibility can be captured in the simplicity of the present moment. It is through the intensity of the present moment which change can take place. It is in the present moment that new habits are formed, and nature changed.