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Muad' Dib often made great use of prescience. As far as I understand, he literally saw parts or threads of the future. Even though he couldn't grasp everything, he'd consciously chosen to avoid certain scenarios and he had let bad things happen to him if they led towards preferred scenarios.

In contrast, Leto II seems to be almost completely blind to the future. His affair with Hwi Nori, not predicting all the ambushes and rebel actions...

What happened? Is Leto II somehow less potent? Did he deliberately decide not to use such powers (in that case, how can he know he is indeed leading towards the Golden Path)?

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The whole point of Leto's Golden Path was to remove his (or anyone else's) ability to predict the future, which would inevitably bind humanity onto a single path. His breeding plan succeeded in creating Siona, who was invisible to prescience, and passed her genes onto all her descendants who shared the same capability.

So it's not that Leto couldn't use prescience: he clearly could foresee elements of the future in great detail, as demonstrated for example by the discovery thousands of years later, during Heretics, of his hidden spice hoard which contained specific messages addressed to its discoverers. However, he refused to use that ability to predict things that affected himself, especially the time and manner of his death: he knew that to do so would be to risk the event itself, and it was vital that it happened.

I don't see what you mean about how refusing to use prescience means risking the Golden Path. The Path - as the name implies - is not a specific goal but a process, and he has known the process he must follow since he first had the vision of the Path as a boy in Children of Dune.

  • Somehow I believe you cannot reliably predict distant future without knowing everything that led to it. Perhaps this is personal. I'm torn between strict science and determinism, and a more "flexible" (continuous?) approach comparable to steering the ship from point A to B. In the last case, you don't predict each and every wave and wind, but you still can do it. Perhaps this is closer to how I should understand it. – Konrad Garus Feb 18 '13 at 15:08
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    Don't forget Paul's description of the seeing the future talked about hills and valleys; you can't always see the entire thing, but you can see certain points; think of them as signposts. Even if you can't see what happens in the valleys, as long as you memorize the hilltops, and which way to go from each, you can get to your destination, despite what may occur in the valleys. Plus, it helps avoid the ennui of total prediction. – K-H-W Feb 18 '13 at 15:34
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    @KonradGarus In this case it doesn't matter what you or I believe, but what Frank Herbert believed. We're reading his fiction, entering into his world, and accepting - for the duration of the novel - his beliefs. – Avner Shahar-Kashtan Feb 18 '13 at 19:56
  • @KHW Thanks for pointing this out. Similar to what I realized with sailing the ship from A to B without knowing each wave. – Konrad Garus Feb 19 '13 at 10:30
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    @KonradGarus feeling like you're missing something is a fairly common outcome to reading Herbert, IMO. – Daniel Roseman Feb 19 '13 at 11:16
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It's important to note that God-Emperor of Dune takes place during Leto II's final days. He has spent thousands of years making extensive use of his prescience. We only get to read the part where it finally fails him.

Your cited examples of being blind to the future are things that were specifically crafted to thwart prescience. There were many failed attempts prior to these final, successful ones.

Hwi Noree was born and raised in a no-chamber. Hwi was also genetically designed to seduce Leto. The purpose of no-chamber technology is to block prescient vision of its contents. Once she was fully grown and brought to him, he could not bear to harm her. Since he could not see her creation, he was unable to put a stop to her before this.

The final ambush was planned by Siona, who had been bred to be invisible to prescient vision. In the first chapter, every rebel except Siona is killed.

These failures were also of his own, deliberate creation. He directly tells Siona that she is the product of his breeding program. In the very opening of the book, we are told that Dar-es-Balat (Leto's secret journal storehouse) is possibly the original, prototype no-chamber.

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