Dr. Nicholas’ Corner: The Limits of Foresight in Humans

Dr. Nicholas Pediaditakis, founder of Alkyonis Mental Health Center, Raleigh NC.
Dr. Nicholas Pediaditakis, founder of Alkyonis Mental Health Center, Raleigh NC.

A Major Roadblock Against Employing Collective Action

 Contributed by Nicholas Pediaditakis, MD, DLFAPA

The Ancient Greeks in their genius had detected defects in our foresight. They even had a wonderful saying that is rendered here in modern language from C. Kavafis:  “People know what is happening. Gods know the future. The wise ones know what is coming. In the middle of the night, they hear the sound of approaching events, while the rest of the people hear nothing.”

Nevertheless, in their genius, even they could not imagine the collapse of the Roman and Greek civilizations and the subsequent arrival of The Dark Ages — The Dark Ages with depopulation of Europe as a result of disease, wars, and famine.

Walter M Miller, Jr., in his remarkable award winning 1960 novel titled, A Canticle for Labowitz, did deal with the grim cycle of progressing civilization while piling up foolishness with the thousands of atomic bombs, readiness for war, demonizing adjoining nations/tribes, racism, and religious extremism – all matched with a remarkable lack of foresight; thus, preparing unwittingly for the arrival of yet another Dark Age.

In Miller’s novel it states,

“The third world war came and went. There were remnants of humanity living in isolated communities by the skin of their teeth. Some of them were complete barbarians, some others – grotesque mutants, and some others living as isolated religious communities in monasteries who were trying to preserve whatever ancient writings they could find, even though they couldn’t comprehend them. They called them memorabilia. One particular charred piece of paper, guarded jealously with enormous respect and reverence, as they were waiting for the wise ones to come and read it and give back enlightenment to humanity. In this charred paper, in 21st century English, incomprehensible to them – since the year was 2700, it was written pastrami half pound, bring bagels home – Mary.”

W. Miller, in his novel, deals with the theme of the cycle of miraculous progress in heightening civilization, while piling up problems just like we do, vaguely acknowledging them intellectually, but with remarkable sense of lack of foresight along with other tribal defects; thus, facilitating our civilization’s collapse, and the arrival of another Dark Age, if not our total demise.

And then, optimistically, in his novel, the civilization resurrects itself preparing for another grim catastrophe.

Optimistically for us, at the present time this book has been recognized for its significance, not only winning awards or never going out of print, but now it is considered a landmark as a cautionary tale for humanity.

Ironically, when it first appeared it was tagged by none other than the New Yorker magazine, fending off its significance, by declaring it intellectually lightweight! The editors of the New Yorker declaring the book in that demeaning way verified the resistance humanity has when problems we are facing are staring us in the eye.

Copyright © 2016 by Nicholas Pediaditakis, MD

For more information on Dr. Pediaditakis and his Raleigh NC mental health clinic, visit his Facebook page.

The book, A Canticle for Leibowitz, is available in book stores, Amazon, and other online sellers.  More about the story is online at wikipedia.org.

Ed. Note: The views and opinions expressed in an editorial or article are not necessarily those of the editors and do not necessarily reflect official policies or positions of The Grey Area newspaper. This information is merely submitted for your consideration. If interested in submitting an article or editorial, email for review.

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About Dr Nicholas Pediaditakis 55 Articles
Dr. Pediaditakis is based in Raleigh NC and a regular contributor to The Grey Area News. Dr. Nicholas’ blog may be read at chroniclersofthesoul.com.