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Imagined FuturesWriting, Science, and Modernity in the To-Day and To-Morrow Book Series, 1923-31$
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Max Saunders

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780198829454

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2019

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198829454.001.0001

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(p.1) Introduction
Imagined Futures

Max Saunders

Oxford University Press

Multiple introductions are warranted to this complex and unusual series. The first section describes its origins, its polymath editor C. K. Ogden, some of his related editorial ventures, and the books by some of the more prominent contributors. The distinctive futurological angle is discussed, together with its generally progressive orientation, and commitment to intelligent debate. The importance of the scientific approach is introduced, as a main thread running through the series and this study. Two superb, influential science volumes are introduced: the initial book, J. B. S. Haldane’s Daedalus; or, Science and the Future (1923); and J. D. Bernal’s The World, the Flesh, and the Devil (1929). Some cardinal intellectual contexts are established: how the series addresses time, eugenics, and modernity. Its organization is considered. The contemporary impact is assessed, leading to a discussion of the value of studying past predictions for thinking not only about the past but about the nature of prediction. The second introductory section places the series in the history of futurological thinking from the fin de siècle to the present. It starts from a contrast between today’s data-driven professionalized group foresight exercises and individual imaginative projections.

Keywords:   future, futurology, Ogden, Haldane, Bernal, science, time, eugenics, modernity, ‘the Two Cultures’

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