Speculative Science: Aby Warburg and Probability Theory

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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 The present article studies, for the first time, an unpublished student essay by Warburg on probability theory.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.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)131-139
JournalPhilosophy of Photography
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - 2017


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