The Good Ancestor: A Radical Prescription for Long-Term Thinking (Hardcover)

The Good Ancestor: A Radical Prescription for Long-Term Thinking By Roman Krznaric Cover Image
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From leading philosopher Roman Krznaric, author of History for Tomorrow, an urgent call to save ourselves and our planet by getting to the root of the current crisis—society’s extreme short-sightedness

As heard on NPR’s TED Radio Hour

So said Jonas Salk, who developed the polio vaccine in 1953 but refused to patent it—forgoing profit so that more lives could be saved.

Salk’s radical generosity to future generations should inspire us. But when leading philosopher Roman Krznaric examines society today, he sees just the opposite: Our short term, exploitative mindsets have “colonized the future.” Businesses eschew civic responsibility for immediate gains, politicians throw their support behind whatever will win the next election, and we all struggle to focus our attention beyond the next alert from our phones. The result? An inexcusable chasm between the haves and have-nots—and mounting existential threats—have brought our species to the precipice of disaster.

Yet Krznaric sees reason to hope. Yes, the urgent struggle for intergenerational justice calls for hugely ambitious solutions, from rewiring our growth-at-all-costs economy to giving voters of future generations a voice in our democracies. But at the heart of all these changes is one we can enact within ourselves: We must trade shortsightedness for long-term thinking.

In The Good Ancestor, Krznaric reveals six practical ways we can retrain our brains to think of the long view, including Deep-Time Humility (recognizing our lives as a cosmic eyeblink) and Cathedral Thinking (starting projects that will take more than one lifetime to complete). His aim is to inspire more “time rebels” like Greta Thunberg—to shift our allegiance from this generation to all humanity—in short, to save our planet and our future.

About the Author

Roman Krznaric is a public philosopher who writes about the power of ideas to change society. His books include History for Tomorrow, Empathy, The Wonderbox, and Carpe Diem, and have been published in more than twenty languages. He studied at the Universities of Oxford, London, and Essex, where he received his PhD. He is a founding faculty member of The School of Life and is based in the UK.

Praise For…

2020 Foreword INDIES Honorable Mention

As heard on NPR’s TED Radio Hour

"Beautiful to read, heartfelt, and persuasive . . . one of those landmark books with the power to shift a mindset. One turns the pages feeling a growing compulsion for change.

— Isabella Tree, author of Wilding

A philosopher’s contribution to saving the world.
— The Guardian

Full of revelations for everyone who cares about the legacy they leave. This is the book our children’s children will thank us for reading.
— The Edge, U2

Philosopher Roman Krznaric calmly calls for a reorientation toward the future, not to benefit us, but to benefit our far-off descendants. . . . [The point is] to emphasize the agency of the present moment and the potential, however imperfect, to influence the future.

— The Atlantic

Roman Krznaric addresses the greatest challenge confronting the world: How can humanity survive this century and flourish in the next? His book deserves to be widely read—by policy makers, and indeed by all citizens who care about the prospects for their children and grandchildren.
— Professor Martin Rees, Astronomer Royal and author of On The Future

A provocative and well-written . . . essay on the history of the human race and its possible future.
— Choice

It is a cliché to declare a book essential reading, but in this case it is true. In a little more than 300 pages Krznaric develops a powerful set of concepts and a frame that will serve to refresh and undergird the civic rationale of public planning.
— Journal of the American Planning Association

A work of genius that draws on the wisdom-traditions of cultures from across the globe.
— Martin Kalungu-Banda, Ubuntu Lab and Saïd Business School, Oxford University

The individualistic philosophies of the last century have generated huge concentrations of wealth—but at the same time put us on the road to social, political, and environmental collapse. This clear-sighted and inspiring book suggests a different view of who humans are and what they really value—and a number of ways off that lethal road. It’s a must-read for anyone who’s looking for the good news.
— musician and composer Brian Eno

A great antidote to the short-term thinking that comes easily to us all. If you want to be a good ancestor, start by reading this book.
— Nigel Warburton, author of A Little History of Philosophy and founder of the Philosophy Bites podcast

I judge a book’s usefulness by how many pages I’m compelled to dog-ear and underline. This book on the pragmatics of long-term thinking earned 50-plus dog-ears.
— Stewart Brand, creator of the Whole Earth Catalog and co-founder of The Long Now Foundation

Krznaric’s seamless and magical prose delights on every page. Let’s engrave his ’six ways to think long’ across the gateway to every Parliament in the world.
— Professor Tim Jackson, author of Prosperity Without Growth

Roman Krznaric passionately argues that thinking long term would bring untold benefits and may very well be vital to our survival as a species. Lose yourself in these pages, expand your time horizons, and reimagine your relationship to time, to the future
— Rob Hopkins, founder of the Transition Town movement and author of From What Is to What If

A fascinating and inspiring exploration of one of the great relationship questions of the 21st century: How can we extend our circle of care to future generations?
— John Gray, New York Times–bestselling author of Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus

Krznaric asks the defining moral question for our age: How will future generations look back on our legacy? A superb intellectual history and razor-sharp analysis of contemporary politics, this book will change how you think about the worldand is a call to action. Read it. You owe it to your children’s children.
— Kevin Watkins, Chief Executive, Save the Children
Product Details
ISBN: 9781615197309
ISBN-10: 1615197303
Publisher: The Experiment
Publication Date: November 3rd, 2020
Pages: 336
Language: English