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Note: I have only read the first trilogy.

The third book revolves entirely around the fact that the First Foundation, knowing about the true existence of the second foundation, ruins the Seldon plan. Therefore, why did Seldon make it publicly known that the Second Foundation existed? How did this aid his plan for the First Foundation in any way?

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    Wasn't it the unpredicted rise of the Mule that ruined the plan, not the Encylopedia Foundation's actions? – Organic Marble Apr 28 '20 at 11:25
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    Only the "first trilogy" matters, anyway. – Spencer Apr 28 '20 at 11:49
  • If the Seldon plan were truly ruined, then the ending of Second Foundation would make no sense. – Spencer Apr 28 '20 at 11:52
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My memory of the stories is that it wasn't commonly known that the Second Foundation existed.

There was a single mention of it in a report of one of the first planning meetings. That mention was basically "two Foundations at opposite ends of the galaxy." Nothing more, and there were no other public mentions of it at all.

Only Ebling Mis found that mention and followed it.


The equations the Second Foundation used depended on the mass of the people acting normally. They could predict the mass reactions fairly well.

As long as the mass of the galaxy's people behave normally, everything is fine.

Some few who know of (or believe in) the existence of the Second Foundation don't (mathematically) matter.

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    But he still mentioned it. This doesn’t answer why, especially since it did end up affecting everything. Yes, it shouldn’t have, but why wasn’t he careful? – Fivesideddice Apr 28 '20 at 10:53
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    "Some few who know of (or believe in) the existence of the Second Foundation don't (mathematically) matter." Ah, yes. No Twitter or Facebook. Also, applying the intuition of mathematical linear systems to chaotic information processing system. Hari Seldon, where did you get that PhD again? – David Tonhofer Apr 29 '20 at 9:03
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The issue is when the first foundation gleaned the nature of the second. That it existed was known from the first opening of time vault:

Terminus and its companion Foundationat the other end of the galaxy are the seeds of the Renascence...

At this point it was an independent site that had no impact on the first Foundation. There is no detail I can find on why this fact was shared, but we see there is detailed psychohistorical modelling of possible paths and events, so would assume that knowing they aren't the only Foundation helped to nudge them on to the correct path.

It became an issue and led to them trying to find and destroy it when they discovered that the second Foundation was directly interfering with the first.

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  • This mostly makes sense, but I feel like there true purpose would have been better hidden if Seldon didn't reveal them at all. Unless of course as you said maybe knowing of there existence was some how necessary to aid the first foundation early on. I can't remember anything like that happening though. – Jacob Schneider Apr 29 '20 at 5:12
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    I can't see anywhere that the specific reason is mentioned. Entirely speculative, but I can see the potential - if you know there is another Foundation also trying to rebuild civilisation, you might (at a population level) be less risk-averse knowing that there is another option out there as a safety. Over centuries, it might be small changes in the way of thinking that still add up to very different outcomes - chaos theory in action? In-universe, all paths were modelled but we're not given enough details of psychohistory to know why that reveal led to a better outcome. – Michael Apr 29 '20 at 8:19
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I think the real reason is that when Asimov wrote the first Foundation book (or rather pieces that later become the book) he probably didn't think a 2nd Foundation would be any different from the first one and so there was no reason for keeping it secret in his mind.

When he then begun expanding Foundation universe and later merging it with his other works, only then it become "a problem" (or a "solution" for how to keep Foundation universe interesting). There are more examples where Asimov clearly wanted one thing in older books and then later decided to change it - like place of origin/nature of The Mule, source of radioactivity on the Earth or existence of non-human intelligent species in our galaxy.

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