The Art of the Probable


The Art of the Probable :: 21L.017

Examines literary texts and films in relation to the history of the idea of probability. Traces the growing importance of probability both as a measure of the reliability of ideas or beliefs and also as a basic property of things and the world. Connects the development and use of probabilistic reasoning (e.g., in the lottery, the insurance industry, and the stock market) with literary and cultural concerns regarding the rationality of belief, risk and uncertainty, free will and determinism, chance and fate. Discussion of the work of scientific and philosophical pioneers of probabilistic thought (e.g., Pascal, Leibniz, Bernoulli, Laplace, and Einstein) in conjunction with a variety of literary texts and films, including works of Shakespeare, Jane Austen, H. G. Wells, and classic Hollywood cinema.