Isaac Asimov's Foundation - Psychohistory

Length: 483 words (1.4 double-spaced pages)
Rating: Excellent
Open Document
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Text Preview

Foundation  Psychohistory

Psychohistory is the framework upon which Isaac Asimov's Foundation rests. It provides for diverse episodes about a variety of characters over a period 400 years, and those episodes feature a number of strong-minded individuals seeking solutions to a series of problems as they arise (Gunn 42). In the novel, these problems have all been fore-ordained long ago by Hari Seldon's science of psychohistory.

Psychohistory is defined by Asimov as a "'profound statistical science' that deals with the reactions of human conglomerates to fixed social and economic stimuli" (Touponce 76). In short, this science predicts the future by treating humanity as one massive series of mathematical equations. However, the one drawback of psychohistory is that this science does not account for individual, random variables. Hari Seldon uses the science of psychohistory to predict the fall of the massive Galactic Empire. By using complex mathematical equations, Seldon is able to mathematically prove that the downfall of the Galactic Empire is eminent.

In addition, psychohistory also adds a sense of determination and predestination to Foundation. The main characters in each book of the novel are aware that when a Seldon crisis occurs, they will manage to make the correct decisions leading to the inevitable turnout of the crisis. Seldon's prophesies "are revealed only after the fact, and even the solutions that he or others say are obvious are obvious only in retrospect, as in all good histories" (Gunn 41). This is first shown in "The Psychohistorians" when Salvor Hardin makes the decision that he must take over the management of the Foundation. This decision is logical in retrospect, but it causes Hardin much agonizing over the probable results of his actions before he does them.

The dilemma experienced by Asimov's characters is how to achieve the predetermined outcome concocted by Seldon. The hero of the first Foundation, Salvor Hardin, decides to wait until the crisis limits his choices to only one course of action. He argues:

...the future isn't nebulous. It's been calculated out by Seldon and charted. Each successive crisis in our history is mapped out and each depends in a measure on the successful conclusion of the ones previous...At each crisis our freedom of actions would become circumscribed to the point where only one course of action was possible...As long as more than one course of action is possible, the crisis has not been reached. We must let things drift so long as we possibly can. (Asimov 119)

This cause of action lets the character "simply follow the logic of Seldon's plan; he will do 'one hundred percent of nothing'"(Elkins 102). However, the reader is left in suspense until the crisis has reached its intended and predicted conclusion.

In conclusion, psychohistory is the foundation upon which Foundation is built. It provides the novel with a basis for the characters to make their decisions. Psychohistory also enforces the predetermination of the novel.


How to Cite this Page

MLA Citation:
"Isaac Asimov's Foundation - Psychohistory." 11 Dec 2016

Related Searches

Important Note: If you'd like to save a copy of the paper on your computer, you can COPY and PASTE it into your word processor. Please, follow these steps to do that in Windows:

1. Select the text of the paper with the mouse and press Ctrl+C.
2. Open your word processor and press Ctrl+V.

Company's Liability (the "Web Site") is produced by the "Company". The contents of this Web Site, such as text, graphics, images, audio, video and all other material ("Material"), are protected by copyright under both United States and foreign laws. The Company makes no representations about the accuracy, reliability, completeness, or timeliness of the Material or about the results to be obtained from using the Material. You expressly agree that any use of the Material is entirely at your own risk. Most of the Material on the Web Site is provided and maintained by third parties. This third party Material may not be screened by the Company prior to its inclusion on the Web Site. You expressly agree that the Company is not liable or responsible for any defamatory, offensive, or illegal conduct of other subscribers or third parties.

The Materials are provided on an as-is basis without warranty express or implied. The Company and its suppliers and affiliates disclaim all warranties, including the warranty of non-infringement of proprietary or third party rights, and the warranty of fitness for a particular purpose. The Company and its suppliers make no warranties as to the accuracy, reliability, completeness, or timeliness of the material, services, text, graphics and links.

For a complete statement of the Terms of Service, please see our website. By obtaining these materials you agree to abide by the terms herein, by our Terms of Service as posted on the website and any and all alterations, revisions and amendments thereto.

Return to