About this course
Humans have always sought to know their own future, be it the destiny of an empire or an individual’s fate. Across cultures and history, we find people trying to find their place in the Universe by attempting to gaze into the future. Join us for this one week in this course of Divination Defined, get an immersive learning experience as we explore pre-scientific? prediction systems ranging from ancient Chinese bone burning to the Oracle of Delphi to modern astrology and tarot, with practitioners and Harvard faculty leading the journey. We will examine the details of over a dozen prediction systems as well as theoretical frameworks connecting them.
This module is a part of PredictionX, which examines our efforts to predict the future over all of recorded history. PredictionX courses will cover topics from omens and oracles in ancient civilizations, which this course discusses, to the evolution of the general approach to science most take today (which includes the course John Snow and the Cholera Outbreak of 1854) as well as modern computer simulations and the role they play in predicting our futures today.
What you will learn?
- A variety of methods from across cultures and history for divining the future.
- A common framework that describes human attempts to predict the future.
1. Divination Defined: Welcome
Welcome to Omens, Oracles & Prophecies, Part 1 of a three-part project on edX called PredictionX. In the grand scheme of PredictionX, the material in this part comes first, chronologically, though rarely are things so linear (for example, in this course alone, there are prediction systems that range from not having been practiced for thousands of years to ones that are still practiced today). Still, broadly, we can classify the material in the PredictionX project into these three parts:
Part_1: Oracles, Omens, and Prophecies
Part_2: The Rise of Theory (which includes the already-released John Snow and the Cholera Outbreak of 1854)
Part_3: Modern Simulations
2. Divination Defined: The Framework
The Framework for Predictive Systems helps us classify and understand similarities and differences amongst predictive methods across time and cultures. It is used throughout PredictionX to think about classes of inputs to predictive systems, the systems themselves, and processes for refining systems (e.g. to improve their accuracy).
Predictive systems can be classified based on their types of inputs. The Framework breaks down these inputs into four broad categories “random,” “randomized,” “human,” and “non-random.”
3. Table of Contents:
The Diviner’s Guide showcases methods of divination whose origins go back many hundreds to thousands of years, ranging from astrology to Chinese bone burning to Mesopotamian sheep entrails. Each of the predictive systems covered has its own in-depth page, which includes a written summary, video, and links to additional resources.
The following Table of Contents provides a handy overview of all of the divination systems discussed in this guide.
- Aztec Rituals
- Casting Lots
- Egyptian Statue
- Maya Spacetime
- Oracle Bones
- Oracle of Delphi
- Roman Augury
4. Divination Defined: Cross-Cultural Conversations
In these Cross-Cultural Conversations, we have assembled experts from various schools and disciplines across Harvard University to discuss the role of prediction in different cultures, on different continents, throughout different centuries, and even millennia. By putting these histories and perspectives in conversation with one another, we investigate the similarities, differences, and changes in divinatory and predictive systems throughout the world.
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- 1-4 Weeks
- Online Course
- Free Course (Affordable Certificate)
- Culture History Sociology
- Harvard University