Study Guide

Foundation Part I, Prologue

By Isaac Asimov

Part I, Prologue

"The Psychohistorians"'

  • The Prologue is an excerpt from the Encyclopedia Galactica. Think the Encyclopedia Britannica, only in the future of space. 
  • Like Britannica, the only future people who actually own the Encyclopedia Galactica will be college professors and kids who receive the complete set as a Christmas present from their grandfathers (and then never read it).
  • This particular entry is about a man named Hari Seldon, who is one smart mathematical cookie. Seems he was the Albert Einstein of a discipline called psychohistory. His story, as told by one Gaal Dornick, will be coming in the tale to follow.
  • Warning! Before proceeding, let's get this one teeny-tiny factoid out of the way: psychohistory is an actual field of study. Its goal is to use the methods of psychotherapy as a means to look at historical cultures (hence the name). It remains a very controversial field of study on the battlegrounds of academia. 
  • More important to us though, it's extremely different than the psychohistory Asimov imagines in Foundation. Just remember to add the word "Asimov"to your web searches, and you'll be fine.