Category Archives: Future: Visions of

Quote: The problem I see (Daly)

The problem I see is that vision is frankly teleological — it asserts or at least implies the causal efficacy of purpose in the real world. A vision of a desirable future functions as a lure, a pull toward itself. For the lure to be effective, like magnetic north, it has to embody real and objective value — not just subjective preferences of individuals.

I strongly believe in the causal efficacy of purpose as well as objective value, and it is a source of dismay to me that many others do not. Before we can save the biosphere, we will have to save the idea of purpose itself, or at least free it from the bondage in which it has been held by neo-darwinists for so long. Even those scientists who are too honest to deny the reality of purpose are nevertheless rendered half-hearted and feeble by the inconsistency between their personal life and the basic assumption of their science. It is hard to get excited about visions of a desirable future if you even half believe that purpose is an illusion.

— Herman Daly, Letter to Donella H. Meadows, June 1999

Reprinted in the Balaton Bulletin, Summer 1999


Quote: It is unfortunate that dreams and visions (Pronk)

It is unfortunate that dreams and visions often only can be worked out at the end of one’s life.

– J. P. Pronk, former Minister of Housing, Spatial Planning, and Environment, the Netherlands

Written in a private letter to Nanda Gilden (now Gilden-de Bie), reflecting on Wouter Biesiot’s book, Fragments of a Dream

Reprinted in the Balaton Bulletin, Winter 1999

Quote: I am a practical person (Meadows)

I am a practical person. I think of myself as relentlessly realistic. I want to create change in the world, not visions in my head. I am constantly amazed, but increasingly convinced, that visioning is a tool for producing results. Olympic athletes use vision to make the difference between the superior performance their trained bodies can achieve and the outstanding performance their inspired vision can achieve. Corporate executives take formal classes in vision. All great leaders have been visionaries. Even the scientific, systems-analyst side of me has to admit that we can hardly achieve a desirable, sustainable world, if we can’t even picture what it will be like.

— Donella Meadows, “The Importance of Visioning, the Practice of Visioning,” reprinted in The Balaton Bulletin, Winter 1999

Quote: So many nations govern themselves (Ellis)

It’s amazing that so many nations govern themselves with no coherent vision of the future. They pass laws, pursue policies, and spend trillions of dollars while leaving the future largely to accident. The blueprints for the survival of human civilization are vague or ignored, and immense costs flow from this fact.

A comprehensive, long-term global vision could begin with ordinary citizens rather than with elected officials or think tanks that employ technical experts. The opportunity to begin and sustain a conversation about the future of civilization rests with you.

— Dave Ellis, Creating Your Future, Boston, Houghton Mifflin, 1998, p. 222

(Cited by Donella Meadows in the Balaton Bulletin, Winter 1999)

About this Category: Future: Visions of

In development.

“Future: Visions of” is the category for texts and artifacts related to specific descriptions of expected or desired futures. These can range from formal vision statements (such as those found in organizational documents) to journalistic or fictional portrayals. Very positive future visions are often called “utopias,” while negative visions are known as “dystopias.”