Prophecy, Prediction, Science Fiction: A History of the Future
Time & Location
About the Event
Since ancient times, philosophers, prophets and prognosticators—theoretically or fictionally--have been looking beyond their own era and offering predictions of what lies ahead for humanity. Historians observing economic, social and political patterns in the evolution of societies as well as innovations in technology extrapolated from them what the future might hold.
Week 1: Ancient Historians and Philosophers. Plato on why democracies fail. Herodotus' and Thucydides' predictions about the future.
Week 2: Apocalypse When? Biblical and Postbiblical Prophecy in the Old and New Testaments, Apocrypha, Pseudepigrapha and Gnostic literature
Week 3: Medieval and Renaissance Prognosticators. Ibn Khaldun; Nostradamus Leonardo da Vinci
Week 4: Philosophies of History in the 18th-19th centuries. The rise and fall of civilizations (Edward Gibbon). Utopianism and progressivism. Dispensationalist Christianity. New technologies inspire science fiction (Samuel Clemens; Jules Verne; H.G. Wells).
Week 5: 20th Century. Worlds Fairs and their Fantasies. Hopes and fears in the nuclear age. Totalitarian dystopias (George Orwell; Aldous Huxley). Expectations for the 21st century (Isaac Asimov; Rand Corporation).
Week 6: Anybody’s Guess? The Future of Futurology