Future Primal: How Our Wilderness Origins Show Us the Way Forward by Louis G. Herman


How should we respond to our converging crises of violent conflict, political corruption, and global ecological devastation? In this sweeping, big-picture synthesis, Louis G. Herman argues that for us to create a sustainable, fulfilling future, we need to first look back into our deepest past to recover our core humanity.

Important clues for recovery can be found in the lives of traditional San Bushman hunter-gatherers of South Africa, the closest living relatives to the ancestral African population from which all humans descended. Their culture can give us a sense of what life was like during the tens of thousands of years when humans lived in wilderness, without warfare, walled cities, or slavery. Herman suggests we draw from the experience of the San and other earth-based cultures and weave their wisdom together with the scientific story of an evolving universe to help create something radically new — an earth-centered, planetary politics with the personal truth quest at its heart.

Louis G. Herman, a professor of political science at the University of Hawaii–West Oahu, was born in an orthodox Jewish community in apartheid South Africa. He was educated in England, studied medicine at Cambridge University, and then moved to Israel to live on a kibbutz. After a life-changing wartime experience as an Israeli paratrooper, he turned to political philosophy. He lives in Honolulu.

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