How can art help us to predict the future?
The future will bring novelty, change & difference. Literature is a rich resource for envisaging those transformations of our world, but scientific imagination offers greater predictive accuracy and precision.
The future will also hold continuity, sameness and commonality. Here, art has unique predictive power. The artworks that surround us, dating back centuries, were created when our present time was in their future. Art is a channel for past, present and future to contact each other. Art helps us to attend to the essential concerns of all human life and relate ourselves to lives in the future.
By manifesting what matters most, art predicts what the future will retain.
I would love to hear your ideas in response.
With very best wishes
University of Hull, UK
I failed my first undergraduate essay by unwittingly submitting a literature answer to a philosophy question. Rather than learning how to isolate the disciplines, I persistently looked for ways to relate literature and philosophy and felt relief when I eventually discovered The Fire and the Sun: Why Plato Banished the Artists. Murdoch showed me the significance of the struggle between poetry and philosophy and strengthened my desire for both. Thanks to her I recognised myself as a wayward Platonist at heart. Before Murdoch I had never read a book of philosophy by a female author, let alone imagined myself in a philosophical career. Much later, tutoring in Philosophy at St Anne's College, I had the daily inspiration of working at her writing desk, which had deep drawers that once held her manuscripts. Her perfectly imperfect mix of seriousness and irreverence has been a profound gift to my philosophical development.
Art often contains a novel possibility.
There are many possibilities of how the world could be from this moment on. Art can be a way of thinking through those possibilities. Some possibilities of how could be are much worse, some are much better. However, art cannot predict the future any more than tea leaves or the movements of the moons of Jupiter. It can, however, offer a vision of how things might become.