"Making the world a better place" through commitment and perspective taking
(Austrian Academy of Sciences)
Paper short abstract:
This paper looks at the way reasoning about the future is infused with both imaginative time travel as well as emotion.
Paper long abstract:
This paper looks at the way reasoning about the future is infused with both imaginative time travel as well as emotion. Insights derive from research among a Moroccan NGO active in the field of education and emerging research among a Malaysian NGO working in urban renewal, where the work of "making the world a better place" variously involves the drawing up of scenarios and the drafting of plans to realise this. The paper approaches these efforts with an interest in social cognition, especially drawing on the concepts of "theory of mind" and "perspective taking", to understand the way collaborators imagine possible worlds. My research indicates that collaborators derive a deeper understanding of their social world through jointly making sense of the past and assembling a variety of ways of seeing the future by jointly engaging in perspective taking (i.e. taking somebody else's perspective or taking one's own future perspective). It is argued that the charting of futures is achieved in a mix of emotional investment, conscious deliberation and creative imagination. In a further step, these NGO observations shall be contrasted with a reflection on the experience of attending two contrasting world urban congresses with their respective normative constructions of doomsday and rescue scenarios.
Sense and sensibility: investments of emotion and rationality in the charting of future scenarios