Integral Development of Scientific Worldview in Art and Literature

Horizon Scanning and Monitoring

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Horizon Scanning and Monitoring

Integral Development of Scientific Worldview in Art and Literature


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The future as aesthetic experience: imagination and engagement in future studies - European Journal of Futures ResearchIn this paper, we examine the question how future studies can productively engage with the future by considering how art is engaging. This question is pertinent, as doubts about the future are increasingly urgent, while the need to engage with the future is not sufficiently addressed by the quantitative growth of future studies. In the case of climate change, for example, the future consequences of global temperature increase are well-known, but do not invoke action accordingly. While some see the use of art as an effective means to engage with the future, others criticise such usage as reducing art to an instrumental value, at the expense of aesthetic values. This raises fundamental questions about how art and imagination can be engaging and what this implies for future studies.To address the issue, we resort to a pragmatist understanding of art. We present a reading of the work of John Dewey (1859–1952). In his Art as Experience, Dewey claimed that art can be seen as a “mode of prediction not found in charts and statistics”. He presents the experience of art as a reciprocal process that is imaginative: in our engagement with art, we experience the artwork, while the experience also produces us. The aesthetic experience is transformative. This mutual coming into existence is not a planned creation, but insinuates an open future as well as an open past.As a next step, we review the production of futures in future studies, using Dewey’s understandings on how imagination and the future connect in the aesthetic experience. First, we look at methods to produce futures: extrapolations, Delphi Surveys, surveys, simulations and scenarios. Second, we evaluate how the produced futures engage their audience, distinguishing between narratives, symbols, graphs and images.We conclude that while futures studies have been successful in showing routes to the future, they also have difficulties to relate to futures in a more open, imaginative and responsible way. They are informative but not transformative. The difficulty of future studies to engage, hinders responsible responses.
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