Future Primal: Book Reading with Louis Herman

What if the way out of global political unrest and ecological collapse lies not only in technological innovation but also in recovering ancient wisdom?

Please join us to welcome South African author Louis Herman for a presentation of his new book,
Future Primal: How Our Wilderness Origins Show Us the Way Forward

Tuesday, May 21, 2013
7:00 pm

Harvard Coop
1400 Massachusetts Ave
Cambridge, MA 02138

In a sweeping big picture synthesis, political philosopher and author 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, as he explains in his new book, Future Primal.

Herman calls his model “primal politics” – a political baseline grounded in what it means to be a human being. Primal societies, such as Africa’s San Bushmen, immersed in a mystical experience of natural reality developed a spiritually oriented, democratic politics that fostered the development of each individual human being in relationship to the cosmos.

About the Author

LOUIS G. HERMAN, a professor of political science at the University of Hawai‘i–West O‘ahu, 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.


“Since the mid 1980s, a number of leading theorists across academic disciplines have been involved in the common endeavor of articulating the outlines of what might be called a planetary civilization. It is in terms of this ongoing creative project that the significance of Louis Herman’s Future Primal can best be appreciated. . . Regularly, at . . . conferences, however satisfied we were with what had been accomplished in revising physics or biology or economics, the glaring omission was politics. This absence of a political philosophy that would support a planetary civilization has been keenly felt for years. . . . No longer. With Future Primal we have a work that is in deep resonance with the ideas from the other architects of this new Earth era. . . I am convinced that Louis Herman's Future Primal provides a cornerstone for this emerging planetary civilization."

-- Brian Thomas Swimme, professor of evolutionary cosmology, the California Institute of Integral Studies (CIIS), co-author with Thomas Berry of The Universe Story.

"This is a brilliant book. The work of a lifetime of profound and richly varied boundary crossing experiences combined with broad and insightful intellectual inquiry, it addresses one of the most critical needs of our time in accessible almost poetic prose. No words of mine can do it justice."

-- David Korten, board chair, YES! Magazine and author, The Great Turning: From Empire to Earth Community and Agenda for a New Economy: From Phantom Wealth to Real Wealth

"Louis Herman has brought together a rich life journey on several continents with penetrating perspectives from political philosophy and contemporary cosmology. This work is a unique contribution to rethinking our collective story of a common past out of Africa toward a shared future on our endangered planet. To sink into this perspective is to see with fresh insight how we truly belong here. Such a gift!"

-- Mary Evelyn Tucker, Yale University Forum on Religion and Ecology.

“Who can doubt that we need a new paradigm for planetary civilization? Our economic models are projections and arrows when they should be circles. To define perpetual growth on a finite planet as the sole measure of economic wellbeing is to engage in a form of slow collective suicide. To deny or exclude from the calculus of governance and political economy the costs of violating the biological support systems of life is the logic of delusion. In Future Primal, Louis Herman, offers a way out, a vision of a new kind of politics for a new era of humanity. Drawing on his time among the Kalahari Bushman, the lessons of his service as a soldier in the Israeli army, his experiences as a Jewish lad living through the darkest years of apartheid in South Africa, he has written a seminal book that bears witness to the folly of all those who say that we cannot change, as we all know we must, the fundamental manner in which we inhabit this planet.”

-- Wade Davis, anthropologist Explorer-in Residence, National Geographic, named one of the “Explorers of the Millenium,” author of The Serpent and the Rainbow. The Wayfinders: Why Indigenous Wisdom Matters in the Modern World; Into the Silence: The Great War, Mallory and the Conquest of Everest