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The Good Ancestor: How to Think Long-Term in a Short-Term World

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From the first seeds sown thousands of years ago, to the construction of the cities we still inhabit, to the scientific discoveries that have ensured our survival, we are the inheritors of countless gifts from the past. Today, in an age driven by the tyranny of the now, with 24/7 news, the latest tweet, and the buy-now button commanding our attention, we rarely stop to con From the first seeds sown thousands of years ago, to the construction of the cities we still inhabit, to the scientific discoveries that have ensured our survival, we are the inheritors of countless gifts from the past. Today, in an age driven by the tyranny of the now, with 24/7 news, the latest tweet, and the buy-now button commanding our attention, we rarely stop to consider how our actions will affect future generations. With such frenetic short-termism at the root of contemporary crises, the call for long-term thinking grows every day – but what is it, has it ever worked, and can we even do it? In The Good Ancestor, leading public philosopher Roman Krznaric argues that there is still hope. From the pyramids to the NHS, humankind has always had the innate ability to plan for posterity and take action that will resonate for decades, centuries, even millennia to come. If we want to become good ancestors, now is the time to recover and enrich this imaginative skill. The Good Ancestor reveals six profound ways in which we can all learn to think long-term, exploring how we can reawaken oft-neglected but uniquely human talents like ‘cathedral thinking’ that expand our time horizons and sharpen our foresight. Drawing on radical solutions from around the world, Krznaric celebrates the innovators who are reinventing democracy, culture and economics so that we all have the chance to become good ancestors and create a better tomorrow.


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From the first seeds sown thousands of years ago, to the construction of the cities we still inhabit, to the scientific discoveries that have ensured our survival, we are the inheritors of countless gifts from the past. Today, in an age driven by the tyranny of the now, with 24/7 news, the latest tweet, and the buy-now button commanding our attention, we rarely stop to con From the first seeds sown thousands of years ago, to the construction of the cities we still inhabit, to the scientific discoveries that have ensured our survival, we are the inheritors of countless gifts from the past. Today, in an age driven by the tyranny of the now, with 24/7 news, the latest tweet, and the buy-now button commanding our attention, we rarely stop to consider how our actions will affect future generations. With such frenetic short-termism at the root of contemporary crises, the call for long-term thinking grows every day – but what is it, has it ever worked, and can we even do it? In The Good Ancestor, leading public philosopher Roman Krznaric argues that there is still hope. From the pyramids to the NHS, humankind has always had the innate ability to plan for posterity and take action that will resonate for decades, centuries, even millennia to come. If we want to become good ancestors, now is the time to recover and enrich this imaginative skill. The Good Ancestor reveals six profound ways in which we can all learn to think long-term, exploring how we can reawaken oft-neglected but uniquely human talents like ‘cathedral thinking’ that expand our time horizons and sharpen our foresight. Drawing on radical solutions from around the world, Krznaric celebrates the innovators who are reinventing democracy, culture and economics so that we all have the chance to become good ancestors and create a better tomorrow.

30 review for The Good Ancestor: How to Think Long-Term in a Short-Term World

  1. 4 out of 5

    Hope P

    Fantastic book, I feel like I've learned a lot about history but also how we can think more long-term and try to tackle climate change. Books like these help me to feel more optimistic about the future, and how philosophical tools can help us picture a better one.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Teo 2050

    2020.10.06–2020.10.12 Contents Krznaric R (2020) (07:51) Good Ancestor, The - How to Think Long Term in a Short Term World About the Author Preface Part I: The Tug of War for Time 01. How Can We Be Good Ancestors? 02. The Marshmallow and the Acorn: Inside Our Time-Torn Brains Part II: Six Ways to Think Long 03. Deep-Time Humility: Humankind as an Eyeblink in Cosmic History 04. Legacy Mindset: How Can We Be Remembered Well? 05. Intergenerational Justice: Reasons to Respect the Seventh Generation 06. Cathedra 2020.10.06–2020.10.12 Contents Krznaric R (2020) (07:51) Good Ancestor, The - How to Think Long Term in a Short Term World About the Author Preface Part I: The Tug of War for Time 01. How Can We Be Good Ancestors? 02. The Marshmallow and the Acorn: Inside Our Time-Torn Brains Part II: Six Ways to Think Long 03. Deep-Time Humility: Humankind as an Eyeblink in Cosmic History 04. Legacy Mindset: How Can We Be Remembered Well? 05. Intergenerational Justice: Reasons to Respect the Seventh Generation 06. Cathedral Thinking: The Art of Planning into the Distant Future 07. Holistic Forecasting: Long-Term Pathways for Civilisation 08. Transcendent Goal: A Lodestar to Guide Humanity Part III: Bring On the Time Rebellion 09. Deep Democracy: Is There an Antidote for Political Myopia? 10. Ecological Civilisation: From Speculative Capitalism to Regenerative Economy 11. Cultural Evolution: Storytelling, Design and the Rise of Virtual Futures 12. The Path of the Good Ancestor Appendix: The Intergenerational Solidarity Index Acknowledgments Endnotes List of Illustrations Bibliography Index

  3. 5 out of 5

    Mike Baldwin

    Time is important in life and over the last months of lockdown we have gone from a frentic dance to a more waltz like action. So I first listened to Roman being interviewed about this book by Matthew Taylor on one of his excellent RSA bridges to the future on one of my dog walks. Roman writes this book in a considered steady pace. Its like one of those walks where you know you will get to the destination and there are things to see and you wish that it could pace up a bit. But this is entirely th Time is important in life and over the last months of lockdown we have gone from a frentic dance to a more waltz like action. So I first listened to Roman being interviewed about this book by Matthew Taylor on one of his excellent RSA bridges to the future on one of my dog walks. Roman writes this book in a considered steady pace. Its like one of those walks where you know you will get to the destination and there are things to see and you wish that it could pace up a bit. But this is entirely the point as Roman reflects on our frenetic, agile, speedy, respond now, insta life and thinks more broader not just a higher context but a temporal context. The book is not a manifesto or an invite to join a movement – if it was I would be signing up. Why? What I particularly like is that this is a WE-HELP book as opposed to a self help book. Roman outlines in the book the ways of thinking long rather than thinking slow – and by the way this is different than Daniel Kahnemans thinking fast /slow. This book is about caring about OUR future and the different legacy mindset that this needs. There are some lovely stories around this that demonstrate the point in a lovely way. The book has a hard stop though when it talks about the constraint of economic growth and introduction and deeper explanation of the Kate Raworths Donut model. Again what I enjoyed was Romans deep and broad understanding of applying what he points out in Parts 1 and 2 to the future. Its not just an economic problem or a social problem or a environmental problems and further its not going to be sorted by some whizzy invention or clever reframing. Finally it was this line that got me For me this part of the book got really interesting. There is a really interesting section of deep democracies intertwined with intergenerational aspects. The difference being that this was all under the wrapper of how this is best designed. An example of this was bringing in how cities could be their own governing areas rather than nation states. Finally the aspect of moving from a linear economy to a circular economy was a clear conclusion and this won’t be by watching more episodes of the repair shop but with a rewiring of thinking long term and reversal of our think short think cheap wiring. In conclusion the book clearly outlies what to do without preaching. Its holistic in design and execution. I really enjoyed it and helped me bring together a number of strands of thinking.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Andres Kabel

    I'm as bedeviled by short-term horizons as most of us, so I turned to this with bated breath. With good reason: this book is a panoramic overview of a philosophy/mindset of far-seeking intergenerational morality. Philosopher Krznaric is a sparkling stylist in charge of his material: wonderful, memorable structural organization of the book; comprehensive and fair-minded surveying of the terrain; and just the right amount of detail. He loves a pithy explanatory image and The Good Ancestor has a nu I'm as bedeviled by short-term horizons as most of us, so I turned to this with bated breath. With good reason: this book is a panoramic overview of a philosophy/mindset of far-seeking intergenerational morality. Philosopher Krznaric is a sparkling stylist in charge of his material: wonderful, memorable structural organization of the book; comprehensive and fair-minded surveying of the terrain; and just the right amount of detail. He loves a pithy explanatory image and The Good Ancestor has a number of brilliant visual aids. Its weighty subject is handled with such unassuming aplomb that I can guarantee at least one of his "six ways to think long" will strike a chord. And the second half of the book covers motivating examples of others acting rather than just thinking long-term. Scintillating.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Rhys Lindmark

    Roman gives a good overview of the reasons to think long-term, and how. Not groundbreaking if you're already interested in x-risk, EA, etc. But still quite a strong distillation of memes and examples of long-term thinking.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Lance McNeill

    A goal we should all strive for Being a good ancestor should be one of our highest callings in life - focusing us on doing today what will help the future.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Rupert

    Makes you think in a completely different way

  8. 4 out of 5

    Kate

    5books.com

  9. 4 out of 5

    Lisa of Hopewell

    I learned of this book here: https://bookishbeck.wordpress.com/202... I learned of this book here: https://bookishbeck.wordpress.com/202...

  10. 4 out of 5

    Daryl Feehely

    This book offers a structured plan to jump-start the reader out of the existential dread of the climate crisis and into working to become a good ancestor. The author offers hope over optimism, the prospect of success despite the odds versus looking on the brightside despite the evidence. Long term thinking is the goal and well described in these pages are the steps needed and methodologies to adopt in order to move away from short-termism. Doing so will allow us to thrive within the means of the This book offers a structured plan to jump-start the reader out of the existential dread of the climate crisis and into working to become a good ancestor. The author offers hope over optimism, the prospect of success despite the odds versus looking on the brightside despite the evidence. Long term thinking is the goal and well described in these pages are the steps needed and methodologies to adopt in order to move away from short-termism. Doing so will allow us to thrive within the means of the planet, rather than destroying it.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Stephan Winter

  12. 5 out of 5

    Nick

  13. 5 out of 5

    Matthew Lynch

  14. 4 out of 5

    Mrs Olivia

  15. 5 out of 5

    David

  16. 4 out of 5

    Martha

  17. 4 out of 5

    Dang

  18. 4 out of 5

    Paul Harding

  19. 5 out of 5

    V K Thompson

  20. 4 out of 5

    Jean

  21. 5 out of 5

    Aly Blenkin

  22. 4 out of 5

    Holly

  23. 5 out of 5

    Stuart Champion

  24. 5 out of 5

    George M.

  25. 5 out of 5

    NICOLAS BASES

  26. 4 out of 5

    Barry

  27. 5 out of 5

    Matthew Davis

  28. 5 out of 5

    David Stillwell

  29. 5 out of 5

    Hjalti

  30. 5 out of 5

    Richard Jackson

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