On Being a Confucian Futurist

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterResearchpeer-review


Optimizing harmony for the future calls upon the skills of a certain type of thinker, one who will become an increasingly sought-after professional in this complex and fast changing world. Futurists are already practising their craft through think tanks, universities, industry and government. Global forces reach beyond any individual state’s control or the best laid business plans, as the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic in 2020 demonstrated. The mapping of possible futures drives policy considerations of the human-technology interface, climate change, health security, geopolitical upheaval, and a myriad of other security challenges. With East Asia’s growing role in world affairs, those involved in futures research will need to bring to bear a Confucian normative perspective in their prognostications. The same is true for International Relations scholars who also think about the global future. Greater attention by the West to Confucian societal values could in itself be a future trend. Confucian values can assist in addressing trends across key areas of human activity. These include responsibilities towards caring for the young and old; preparing the next generation as moral agents of change; examining the relationship between humans and machines; and questioning the assumptions of competitive geopolitics. ‘On being a Confucian Futurist’ is a way of capturing the call of the emerging era of need, one in which being a technophile seems to lead to a dead end when life values are left behind. Rather than colonising the future, technology needs to enable it toward humanistic ends. Confucian values and a heightened future consciousness can address the problems that collectively contribute to world disharmony. The task of taking on such problems may sound futuristic, but its roots are nourished by the past.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationLiving Confucianisms: Strategies for Optimizing Harmony
EditorsJames D. Sellmann, R. James Ferguson, Rosita Dellios
Place of PublicationLanham, Maryland
PublisherRowman & Littlefield Publishers
Number of pages19
ISBN (Electronic)978-1-5381-8105-8
ISBN (Print)978-1-5381-8103-4
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2023


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