How can we be good ancestors?
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.
Roman Krznaric is a public philosopher who writes about the power of ideas to change society. His books, including Empathy, The Wonderbox and Carpe Diem Regained, have been published in more than 20 languages.
After growing up in Sydney and Hong Kong, Roman studied at the universities of Oxford, London and Essex, where he gained his PhD in political sociology. He went on to found the world’s first Empathy Museum and the digital Empathy Library, and was also a founding faculty member of The School of Life. He is currently a Research Fellow of the Long Now Foundation in San Francisco.
Roman has been named by The Observer as one of Britain’s leading popular philosophers. His writings have been widely influential amongst political and ecological campaigners, education reformers, social entrepreneurs and designers. An acclaimed public speaker, his talks and workshops have taken him from a London prison to Google’s headquarters in California.
"This is the book our children's children will thank us for reading,"
– The Edge, U2
"Roman Krznaric's brilliant book The Good Ancestor champions the long-term thinking that could lead us out of our multiple disasters."
– George Monbiot
"Beautiful to read, heartfelt and persuasive The Good Ancestor is one of those landmark books with the power to shift a mindset. One turns the pages feeling a growing compulsion for change. Krznaric's clarion call for long-term thinking makes him an ancestor all future generations can be proud of"
– Isabella Tree, author of Wilding
"It 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
"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
"Clear-sighted and inspiring – a must-read for anyone who's looking for the good news"
– Brian Eno
"A philosopher's contribution to saving the world"
– Andrew Anthony, Observer
"Packed with commonsense advice on how to develop an uncommon habit"
– Irish Times