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The Bene Gesserit spent thousands of years breeding selected humans from important bloodlines with the specific goal of reaching a Kwisatz Haderach, a prophesied male messiah and superbeing, a super-mentat, capable of seeing both the future and the past, being at many places at the same time, and of governing through utter omniscience and insurmountable religious doctrine.

How did the Bene Gesserit know of the possibility of a Kwisatz Haderach being coming to existence? Did they infer it from past experience? Could they partially see the future, that there would be Kwisatz Haderach someday? Did they know of the existence of a previous Kwisatz Haderach?

Note: The Bene Tleilax has created a previous Kwisatz Haderach, but the Bene Gesserit only knows of that in Dune Messiah (as answered here).

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  • While there's probably a decent amount of text for a real answer from someone...It seems to me just taking things to a logical conclusion that if something exists for females and there's no clear reason it can't exist in males - then eventually it could exist. And since the male lineage is a blind spot in what they can access- this goal becomes desirable. Feb 14 at 3:15
  • The Bene Gesserit have been selectively breeding for centuries by combining the best genes from the Houses of the Landsraad. I don't know how they came to the conclusion that all these combined genes would lead to a Kwisatz Haderach, but it has been something they've poured a lot of research and dedication into.
    – user25730
    Feb 14 at 4:51
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    They wanted a Kwisatz Haderach - a man who could tap into his inner memories just as they tapped into theirs, but also who could go beyond and be a true prophet - and then they worked towards it. Just like the scientists at Los Alamos wanted an atomic weapon, but didn't know how to build one at first - they worked towards it.
    – HorusKol
    Feb 14 at 7:27
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    that's not comparable at all. the physicists had all of the necessary theory to know that and how a nuke should work. this Q asks basically if the BG hat a scientific theory about the KH.
    – ths
    Feb 14 at 11:07
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    Note that this term is derived from the Jewish concept of the Kefitzat Haderech. No idea if Dune is supposed to be a far future version of Earth, though. Feb 15 at 2:10

1 Answer 1

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If we take the Dune Encyclopedia as our guide, the very simple answer is that the KH was predicted rather than prophesied. The BG anticipated that a male who could access both male and female memories would be as powerful as they were, but without the flaws caused by their own lack of ability to access the other memories. This means perfect perception of the future, versus their own imperfect vision, perfect control of thier actions, versus their own imperfect control, etc.

The quest for the Kwisatz Haderach may have been the longest single-minded project in human history. The Bene Gesserit appears to have been the oldest continuous purposeful organization, and its purpose was to create a "human" who could tap both female and male reservoirs of ancestral memory. At some point along the millennia of Bene Gesserit history, their breeding program focused on power. Thereafter they sought the perfect human, total male as well as total female, in order to control events and impose the Bene Gesserit version of destiny on humankind. The Kwisatz Haderach, who was for ages a goal sought for his own sake, became a means to a narrower end.

The Bene Gesserit records are not entirely clear about just how this was to be achieved. The assumptions appear to have been so basic and to have evolved so gradually that they were never laid out in explicit, declarative form. From the events in the histories, however, and by interpolation and inference from records in the Rakis Hoard, we have pieced together a plausible rationale. Put simplistically, the Bene Gesserit came to believe that perfect memory would provide total predictability. Because the Bene Gesserit preserved the belief in a single creator of the universe, and believed that only this Being knew the temporal design of events all the way to their "end," they thought that to be able to predict the future was to possess the power of the creator.

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  • The sequel series will no doubt be about a female who can tap both male and female memories…
    – Lexible
    Feb 14 at 17:02
  • I can't recall if Ghanima had that ability. One could argue Alia could (having access to the Baron's personality).
    – user25730
    Feb 14 at 21:24
  • Great answer, Valorum! I did not know Dune Encyclopedia, it's cool! It does make sense that BG goals where to acquire full memory history, and thus full future predictability, and the KH was a logical consequence of that search.
    – Arc
    Feb 14 at 22:25
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    @user25730 - Ghanima and Alia both have access to male and female memories
    – Valorum
    Feb 14 at 22:25
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    A lot of this stuff in Encyclopedia is in one of the appendices to The Dune: 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. Also in the Terminology of the Imperium: KWISATZ HADERACH: “Shortening of the Way.” This is the label applied by the Bene Gesserit to the unknown for which they sought a genetic solution: a male Bene Gesserit whose organic mental powers could bridge space and time.
    – AcePL
    Feb 15 at 13:18

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