The Pursuit of Virtue: The Path to a Good Future
According to many futurists, social scientists, and cultural commentators, our modern high-tech, fast-paced, consumerist world is becoming increasingly frenzied, fragmented, and disarrayed; many of us feel we are swirling about—as father of psychology William James once said of infants—in a “blooming buzzing confusion” without a meaningful and positive sense of overall purpose and direction.
In a time when we possess more financial wealth, material goods and comforts, and technological conveniences than ever before, many of us suffer from excessive egocentricity and untethered wishy-washy relativism; information overload and dizzying speed and chaos in our lives; anxiety, stress, and feelings of fatalism and nihilism; closed-mindedness, anti-intellectualism, and defensive paralysis in the face of change; a disproportionate reliance on money and consumerism as the answer to life; and an hypnotic and addictive immersion in technology and social media. Of special significance, our conscious sense of the future, as well as our memory of the past, is narrowing and weakening. We are becoming lost and forlorn, drowning in an overpowering present. What is going wrong and what can we do about it?
This book examines key destructive and disruptive aspects of our contemporary modern society and outlines a novel and constructive approach for addressing our problems, improving the quality of our lives, and creating a positive future. This new way of thinking proposes that happiness, deep purpose, personal and social evolution, and realizing a good future are maximized through the exercise and development of a core set of character virtues that heighten our future consciousness.
Future consciousness is our most distinctive and empowering human capacity. A flourishing life and positive future are best realized through enhancing this capacity, and this capacity can be most effectively strengthened through the conscientious and self- responsible development of a key set of character virtues. Moreover, the synthesis and highest expression of these character virtues of future consciousness is the virtue of wisdom. To most intelligently, ethically, and comprehensively address the problems of the modern world, the virtue of wisdom should be our guiding light. Living a wisdom narrative for the future of both ourselves and the planet is the golden key to the good future. Problems and challenges in life will never go away, but the path to the good future is not to be found in some external reality, such as wealth or technology, but within ourselves and our own personal and social evolution.
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"In The Pursuit of Virtue, psychologist and futurist Thomas Lombardo states that “future consciousness is our most distinctive and empowering human capacity.” He adds that we can best develop and heighten this capacity by developing “a key set of character virtues,” most importantly wisdom. Other important virtues include self-awareness, self- control, self-efficacy, and self-responsibility; hope, optimism, courage; discipline, tenacity, and deep purpose; the love and skill of learning and thinking; temperance, balance, and reciprocity; and cosmic consciousness and transcendence. Before he explores these virtues, however, he devotes more than one-third of his short book to “Key Problems in the Contemporary World.” His analysis of these problems, including our failures to adapt wisely to new technology, is excellent and establishes the crying need for the virtues he then explores. His final section, “Living the Wisdom Narrative,” offers not only a thorough examination of what wisdom is, but also an insistence on the importance of personal and grand narratives. Personal narratives are the stories we tell ourselves about our own lives, and grand narratives about the larger world we live in. By living wisely we can change the future of both narratives. Throughout his book, Lombardo cites many other philosophers, psychologists, and social critics, and at the end of his book provides a list of the writings he has mentioned. In summary, The Pursuit of Virtue is a valuable, concise, readable, and wise guide to how we can become better and happier people, both individually and collectively."
Author of In the Face of Fear and An Age of Progress?
"A brilliant, timely, erudite exposure of the shallow, divisive individualism of modern life.” This highly recommended book by Lombardo urges us personally and collectively to arrest the decline of social cohesion and moral spirit.
With copious reference to key thinkers of the past, it sharply exposes the themes that are undermining the fabric of society, leading to mental health problems and social fragmentation. The point, so clearly made, is that we all suffer both as individuals and as communities and nations of people from the consequences of the egocentrism and selfishness at the root of the individualism that is almost universally promoted. The collation and the scope of the disparate threads that contrive to damage the quality of life of individuals and groups is one of the key strengths of the book.
He offers an antidote to these malaises, imploring us to regain our nature, our connection with others and the planet by projecting ahead, by moving beyond current constraints to seek a better future consciousness. To live a more virtuous, holistic path in life that benefits self and others synergistically. The ambitious target he describes for how we may evolve may be beyond the capabilities and energies of many, but the aspiration it proffers should motivate us to at least tread the path toward it."
Author of Think More
“Consciousness has been and still is a big puzzle since the ancient times. Given his involvement in futures studies, Lombardo is an authority in giving us a big picture of contemporary modern thought about this subject. He generously shares in this book his deep insights about heightened future consciousness, a highly valuable set of character virtues for humans at a planetary scale that one could think of it as achieving wisdom as well. This concise, helpful and life-changing roadmap provides an easy to digest and ready to be practiced way for those who want to fundamentally change themselves and the entire world toward the good future.”
Director of World Futures Studies Federation (WFSF)
Victor V. Motti