ISSN: 20403682
First published in 2010
2 issues per volume
Volume 8 Issue 1-2
Cover Date: October 2017
Speculative science: Aby Warburg and probability theory
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Authors:  Hans Christian Hönes 
DOI: 10.1386/pop.8.1-2.131_1

Aby Warburg,art history,probability theory,chance,artistic research,Johannes von Kries

While Aby Warburg, in his younger years, advocated a completely rational, mathematical understanding of the world, he lost confidence in this scientific ideal later on. This article proposes that this crucial shift in perspective, redefining Warburg’s opinions about empiricism, rationality and thus cultural evolution as a whole, took place very early on, namely in the summer of 1890. The present article studies, for the first time, an unpublished student essay by Warburg on probability theory. While discussing stochastic and the possibility of mathematical prediction of future events, Warburg’s belief in the infallible exactitude of numerical sciences got first cracks.
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