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Really different? The future of future studies1

Susantha Goonatilake (Royal Asiatic Society, Colombo, Sri LankA)


ISSN: 1463-6689

Article publication date: 18 July 2008




The purpose of this paper is to outline the contours of futures studies that override the ethnocentric epistemological limitations of present studies, which are mono‐civilizational and extrapolations from Western experience.


The paper shows by empirical and conceptual means the inadequacy of present futures studies – based partly on alleged American exceptionalism – which limit the imagination of futurists. The paper then uses a different philosophical base, namely Buddhist process philosophy, which puts change at its inner core to develop a new perspective.


The paper finds that the alleged American exceptionalism is based on founding myths and ground realities not necessarily present in other countries. Huntington and others evoked the role of civilizations before the rise of Asia was being fully noticed. Current US dominance is illustrated to some extent by “everywhere is America”, but in a reverse direction “everywhere is in America” as the world implodes back on the USA through migration and through globalization.


The approach suggested in the paper will provide a more penetrating epistemology for future studies than hitherto ad hoc approaches.



Goonatilake, S. (2008), "Really different? The future of future studies1", Foresight, Vol. 10 No. 4, pp. 43-57.



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Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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