Future-Time-Span as a Cognitive Skill in

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FUTURE-TIME-SPAN AS A COGNITIVE SKILL IN FUTURE STUDIES
by

David Passig INTRODUCTION Future Studies is a field that began to develop in an established way during the Second World War, when armies were required to make what were called at the time “five-year plans.” This endeavor was developed primarily to plan the movement of forces during future battles, logistics, and so on. Over the years, hundreds of methodologies were developed, with whose help futurists studied future trends in various areas and ranges of time (Armstrong, 2001). Nevertheless, thinkers and leaders continued to make projections, and developed various estimates of future developments without availing themselves of proven research tools. As opposed to the latter, the futurists of the 20th century militated for the establishment and development of methods for evaluating trends whose validity could be monitored and whose reliability could be measured. When the field was, to a certain extent, expropriated from the thinkers and leaders, the state of mind, or skill, which had guided the thinkers in the fashioning of their evaluations of the future, was lost to the researchers of Future Studies. This article focuses on one of the characteristics of the state of mind which led the thinkers to evaluate future trends. In this article we maintain that Future-Time-Span is a state of mind that characterized thinkers in ancient times. With the help of FTS they succeeded in making future evaluations, and in assessing their significance and implications—basing their thinking on the jumble of information that was available to them, on their value emphases, and on their personal styles. The goal of this article is to define the nature of this state of mind or skill, to illustrate it with examples, and to begin to develop tools, or to harness existing tools, so that it may be bequeathed to the leaders of the future. In this article, we will attempt to bring back this skill to the collective state of mind of humanity. It was a skill which once characterized the thinkers, but whose value was diminished by the futurists. Our goal is to harness that skill for the preparation of the leaders of the future. It is a skill that speaks of humanity's ability to break through the barriers of time, by employing vision and a broad enough view of events so that human beings become able to understand and to have an effect on that which will take place in the future. David Passig is the director of the Graduate Program in Communication Technologies, School of Education, Bar-Ilan University, Ramat-Gan, Israel. He may be Futures Research Quarterly • Winter 2004 27

Future-Time-Span................................................................................................ D. Passig

contacted at passig@mail.biu.ac.il. His web site is www.passig.com.

TIME PERCEPTION Time is one of the central and most vital dimensions in our lives. It would be difficult to describe modern life in a western, industrialized society without referring to time. However, despite time's centrality in our lives and in the lives of other organisms, science hasn't recognized a sensory organ which is directly responsible for the perception of time. Moreover, we are unable to identify information which comes from the external environment and which brings about activity in a sensory organ in such a way that a sense of time is created. This is in contrast to other central perceptual dimensions such as the perception of color, or the intensity of a sound (Zacay, 1998). In order to develop sense of future-time, we will first present briefly what we know about the essence of time and how the awareness of it begins to develop in the first years of our lives. DIFFERENT KINDS OF TIME We can distinguish between different kinds of time: physical, biological, and psychological. Physical time is time measured by the clock. We may look at it as a continuum, which moves from the past to the future in a direction...
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