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Prescience was the term commonly used to describe the ability to see into both the past, present and future. Some awareness spectrum narcotics allowed their users to become prescient. The spice melange was one example among many in the Imperium.
Concept of Prescience Edit
The God-Emperor Leto Atreides II described prescience as the ability to recognise patterns in history repeating themselves over and over again. The term has also been used to describe the ability of Guild Navigators to see into the immediate present and future, so that they could plot a safe path for Heighliners when travelling through space. An individual who possessed true prescience could see into all the possibilities of the present and how they interplayed into the future.
The Atreides Edit
The spice melange managed to unlock prescient abilities in Paul Atreides when he was exposed to it on Arrakis in 10,191 A.G. As a result, Paul could see events transpiring in the distant future. Paul's prescience was so powerful that when he lost his eyesight due to a Tleilaxu stone burner, he could interact with the world around him without aid. This was because he was able to remember all the details of his vision of the future. Essentially, Paul knew where everyone would be and what they would say and do.
However, it was not until his son, Leto II came to adulthood that the full power of Atreides prescience came into fruition. Leto's Golden Path was a way in which he saw mankind surviving through the eons. He could predict the demise of the human race, so he put himself in a position where he could change its evolution. Leto knew that humanity would go down the path of The Scattering as a reaction to his enforced peace.
Ability to See One's Own DeathEdit
Despite those with prescient abilities possessing the power to see into the future, it had its limitations. Primarily, those who possessed true prescience could see their own death long before it happened. As a result, prescient individuals were prone to despair, and usually felt a sense of loss for their humanity.
Indeed, Guild Navigators ceased to even look human after having breathed in the orange melange gas over many years, and would become physically and emotionally remote from humanity in general. In the presence of a powerful Guild Navigator, even Paul's prescience had deficiencies.
Failed Kwisatz HaderachsEdit
Individuals who had been genetically bred to specifically be the Kwisatz Haderach, caused massive failures in prescience. Paul had an inability to see the failed super-being Count Hasimir Fenring; or the misguided Tleilaxu attempt, the failed super-being Thallo. When the Fenring's attempted the assassination of the Emperor in 10,198 AG, Paul was blind-sided by their actions.
Paolo During KralizecEdit
An individual with perfect prescience would become completely paralyzed by the tedium of existing: absolute foreknowledge of every breath and pulsebeat of every being in the universe would make one aware of one's own irrelevance. On Synchrony, after Paolo ingested the massive dosage of ultraspice, he experienced perfect prescience, despaired of life, went into a permanent spice trance; and eventually starved and thristed to death.
Casts the Future in StoneEdit
Another major limitation of prescience hinges on the question of whether or not a prescient adept casts the future in stone just by seeing it in the first place. It was this dangerous paradox that had Leto II breed specifically for a human who could not be seen by prescient viewers (Siona Atreides), to allow humanity the freedom from oracular pronouncement that almost led it to extinction.
- Prescience article at Wikipedia.