I'm re-reading the original Dune series (for about the hundredth time) and there's a question that I've always had about the kwisatz haderach.

There seems to be a common belief (among questioners and answerers here on this site and even on the Dune wikia) that

kwisatz haderach = someone able to see the future

But it does not seem to me that there is a clear statement that the kwisatz haderach can see the future. All the discussion of this that I recall from the books seems to indicate that the Bene Gesserit were seeking a man who could access memories of both male and female ancestors. There is evidence that the Bene Gesserit were interested in the ability to see the future, judging from Jessica's instructions to Paul at the beginning of Dune to tell the Reverend Mother about the dreams in which he seems to see the future. But beyond that, there is little mention of this ability until Paul actually starts seeing the future.

So I'm looking for a clear statement from any of the original Dune books by Frank Herbert, that the ability to see the future was part of what being the Kwisatz Haderach was.

2 Answers 2


Yes, the Kwisatz Haderach was necessarily capable of prescience. This was one of the key goals of the breeding program, to generate a human with the capacity to readily access the future prediction available to the Guild (and to a lesser extent to the Bene Gesserit themselves) without the attendant problems that each group faced; with the Guild, the loss of their humanity and tunnel vision on the problem of Spice production and for the Bene Gesserit, the inability to access the 'male' side of their psyche, and therefore the incapacity to use their prescience to dominate the known universe.

Paul said: “There is in each of us an ancient force that takes and an ancient force that gives. A man finds little difficulty facing that place within himself where the taking force dwells, but it’s almost impossible for him to see into the giving force without changing into something other than man. For a woman, the situation is reversed.”


Jessica's own agents prepared this summary of the Bene Gesserit's breeding program, presumably by interviewing Paul.

The Bene Gesserit program had as its target the breeding of a person they labeled “Kwisatz Haderach,” a term signifying “one who can be many places at once.” In simpler terms, what they sought was a human with mental powers permitting him to understand and use higher order dimensions.

They were breeding for a super-Mentat, a human computer with some of the prescient abilities found in Guild navigators.

Dune - Appendix III. Report on Bene Gesserit Motives and Purposes

  • @Vanguard3000 - While I appreciate the edit and applaud your decision to improve my answer, I generally suggest that when the post is still within the grace period (less than 5 mins after posting), it's wise to check with OP, by posting a comment, before making direct edits to their post. This prevents conflicting edits.
    – Valorum
    Commented Apr 26, 2019 at 19:22
  • Okay, no problemo. Commented Apr 26, 2019 at 20:20
  • Perfect. That's exactly what I was looking for. (And I should have thought to check the appendices - haven't read them in years)
    – Kryten
    Commented Apr 26, 2019 at 20:25
  • 1
    @Kryten - Herbert is a bit of an old fashioned guy. Women can't dominate the galaxy because they're too matronly.
    – Valorum
    Commented Apr 26, 2019 at 20:26
  • 1
    @Arc - The Honored Matres (basically the BG without the compulsion to hide behind the Empire) rule their bit of the galaxy with advanced sex skills. There are lots of female characters, but none of them seem fit to rule. Alia needs a man to tell her what to do, etc
    – Valorum
    Commented Feb 14, 2022 at 9:07

I think that the functioning of Prescience ultimately has to be left to the interpretation of the individual reader. On the one hand, there were clear failures of Paul's prescience : he did not anticipate either the death of Duncan Idaho, or his reincarnation as a ghola. He also did not foresee the birth of twins to Chani. On the other hand, he piloted an Ornithopter blind. What are we to make of this? It may not all be strictly logical, but it certainly works dramatically.

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