Reality comprises not only what is actually given but also dispositions, habits, tendencies, and the forces generating them. Let us say that reality also includes latents. Even if these may not be actually detectable in any given situation, they may nevertheless be there. Latents may become actual, if proper triggering conditions are in place, or they may be lost in the process. The simplest case of latents is given by dispositions, which can be described under the label “what would happen if” (what would happen if sugar were added to a liquid). Occasionally, latents can be perceived even when they are not exercised.
Anticipation comes in different guises. Some anticipations are explicit, meaning that the system knows that it has them. On the other hand, it is patently obvious that most anticipations work silently: they constrain the system’s behavior without the system being aware of them. This implies that the system knows only some fragments of its own identity. The main problem with such an extensive family of anticipations is that the different types of anticipation may work together and synthetically produce the system’s general anticipatory patterns, or they may conflict and eventually cancel each other out.
The widest distinction is between explicit and implicit types of anticipation. Explicit types of anticipation include foresights and expectations, while implicit types of anticipation are properties of the system, intrinsic to its functioning.
A few months ago Martin Seligman and collaborators have published an important paper, “Navigating Into the Future or Driven by the Past”. Seligman’s paper is a major contribution to a new conception of cognitive science as a whole. It is worth noting that Seligman is past President of the American Psychological Association and one of the best-known American psychologists. Moreover, the Templeton Foundation awarded him a multimillion grant for developing and testing his future-oriented vision of cognitive science.