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Universal perspectivism: transcending “facta” and “futura” through foresight theory building

Erik F. Øverland (Based at the Institut Futur, Freie Universität Berlin, Berlin, Germany)

On the Horizon

ISSN: 1074-8121

Article publication date: 25 January 2013




Contemporary foresight activities are increasingly dominated by commitment to research methods and an ambition to found a sound theory of futures thinking. Arguably, there has been a general failure to examine and explicate the relationship between theory and method. As Poli; Karlsen & Karlsen; Aaltonen; Inayatullah and others argue, there is both a need and a will to develop a substantial foundation of futures studies that not only goes beyond epistemology, but explicitly tries to establish an ontological rationale for futures research as a post‐positivist scientific activity. Following along this line, the purpose of this paper is to represent a radical constructivist approach to the theory of latents and level of realities that transcends traditional phenomenology.


The paper also gives a brief outline on how Kant meets Latour and constitutes and reproduces two ontological areas, man and nature and argues in favour of a post‐post conception called “universal perspectivism”.


It is found that the foresight community and futurists must revert to some basic ontological assumptions about the future, e.g. as a reflection of human imagination or as a projection of today's situation, particularly the reproduction of the construction of an idea of the human being as such, and its opposite – what it is not.


The consequences for anticipation activities are tremendous: in forward looking activities we reproduce both the distinction between reality in itself and reality for us, or put differently, between appearances and latent. These are then linked to the differentiation between two basic ontological areas throughout all time modalities, nature and society (man). The link between pasts, presents and futures is getting closer.



Øverland, E.F. (2013), "Universal perspectivism: transcending “facta” and “futura” through foresight theory building", On the Horizon, Vol. 21 No. 1, pp. 39-45.



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