21L.017 The Art of the Probable


Class Info

Examines literary texts and/or films in relation to the history of the idea of probability. Traces the growing importance of probability as a basic property of things and the world, as well as a measure of the reliability of our ideas and beliefs. Connects the development and use of probabilistic reasoning (e.g., in the lottery and in statistics) 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) in conjunction with works by Shakespeare, Voltaire, H. G. Wells, Pynchon and Stoppard, among others. Enrollment limited.

This class has no prerequisites.

21L.017 will not be offered this semester. It will be available in the Spring semester, and will be instructed by S. Raman.

This class counts for a total of 12 credits. This class counts as a HASS H. This class counts as a CI-H.

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