This richly illustrated book is an exploration of how chance and risk, on the one hand, and meaning or significance on the other, compete for the limelight in art, in philosophy, and in science. In modern society, prudence and probability calculation permeate our daily lives. Yet it is clear for all to see that neither cautious bank regulations nor mathematics have prevented economic crises from occurring time and again. Nicolas Bouleau argues that it is the meaning we assign to an event that determines the perceived risk, and that we generally turn a blind eye to this important fact, because the word "meaning" is itself awkward to explain. He tackles this fundamental question through examples taken from cultural fields ranging from painting, architecture, and music, to poetry, biology, and astronomy. This enables the reader to view overwhelming risks in a different light. Bouleau clarifies that the most important thing in a time of uncertainty is to think of prudence on a higher level, one that truly addresses the various subjective interpretations of the world.
Nicolas Bouleau is a mathematician, philosopher of science and essayist, professor at Ecole des Ponts Paris Tech. He was responsible for introducing computer simulation into the teaching of probability and was among the first to develop research in mathematical finance in France. In 1984 he created a research team in applied mathematics which became a CNRS unit (40 researchers). Since 1992 he has taught Master of Probability at the University of Paris. He has supervised sixteen theses, published more than hundred articles on potential- and probability theory, also philosophical and epistemological essays. His ten books include "Dirichlet Forms and Analysis on Wiener Space" with F. Hirsch (De Gruyter 1991), "Numerical Methods for Stochastic Processes" with D. Lepingle (Wiley 1994), and "Error Calculus for Finance and Physics" (De Gruyter, 2003). Nicolas Bouleau has lectured at over one hundred international conferences, was awarded the Montyon Prize of the French Academy of Sciences.
Entrance: Interpretation and Paradigms.- I. Cicero and Divination.- II. Cournot's "Philosophic Probabilities".- III. Mathematical Probabilities.- IV. Democracy by Chance.- V. Gestalt, Structure, Pattern.- VI. The Third Dimension of Risk.- VII. ''Modern" Architecture.- VIII. The Ideal City.- IX. Daring the Abstract in Art.- X. Saussure or the Dread of Mathematical Probabilities.- XI. Jacques Monod's Roulette.- XII. From Fortuitism to Animism.- XIII. The Slip as Fortuity and Meaning.- XIV. Guessing Astronomy.- XV. The Legitimacy of Science and Love.- Hints and Index.