Books, like lives, are always unfinished even when they end, for to write is to struggle with contingency, to impose a certain false order upon the endless, and endlessly frustrating, nature of thought.
And, in this case, science could learn an important lesson from the literati who love contingency for the same basic reason that scientists tend to regard the theme with suspicion. Because, in contingency lies the power of each person, to make a difference in an unconstrained world bristling with possibilities, and nudgeable by the smallest of unpredictable inputs into markedly different channels spelling either vast improvement or potential disaster.stephen jay gould
The moment when a man's head drops off is seldom or never, I am inclined to think, precisely the most agreeable of his life. Nevertheless, like the greater part of our misfortunes, even so serious a contingency brings its remedy and consolation with it, if the sufferer will but make the best, rather than the worst, of the accident which has befallen him.Nathaniel Hawthorne
What kind of God can one infer from the sort of phenomena epitomized by the species on Darwin's Galapagos Islands? The evolutionary process is rife with happenstance, contingency, incredible waste, death, pain and horror.… The God of the Galapagos is careless, wasteful, indifferent, almost diabolical. He is certainly not the sort of God to whom anyone would be inclined to pray.david hull
Well aware of both the continuity and contingency of human affairs, Adams and Madison searched the works of Tacitus and Voltaire and Locke like carpenters rummaging through their assortment of tools, knowing that all the pediments were jury-rigged, all the provisional, all the alliances temporary.lewis h. lapham
Theology recognizes the contingency of human existence only to derive it from a necessary being, that is, to remove it. Theology makes use of philosophical wonder only for the purpose of motivating an affirmation which ends it. Philosophy, on the other hand, arouses us to what is problematic in our own existence and in that of the world, to such a point that we shall never be cured of searching for a solution.maurice merleau-ponty
A conquest of this kind is never finished; the contingency remains, and, so that he may assert his will, man is even obliged to stir up in the world the outrage he does not want. But this element of failure is a very condition of his life; one can never dream of eliminating it without immediately dreaming of death. This does not mean that one should consent to failure, but rather one must consent to struggle against it without respite.Simone de Beauvoir
In all cultures, it is the task of a religion to close the field of contingency …and to set up havens of the absolute where it is possible to be led from acting to listening, from having to being, from planning to hoping, from judging to forgiving from the finite into the infinite. A society in which such open spaces of eternity do not exist or are only insufficiently developed dies of itself due to lack of air to breathe.eugen drewermann
In brief, nationalism is a theory of political legitimacy, which requires the ethnic boundaries should not be cut across political ones, and, in particular, that ethnic boundaries within a given state a contingency already formally excluded by the principle in its general formulation should not separate the power holders from the rest.ernest gellner
The contingency of history (both for life in general and for the cultures of Homo sapiens ) and human free will (in the factual rather than theological sense) are conjoined concepts, and no better evidence can be produced than the “experimental” production of markedly different solutions in identical environments.stephen jay gould
Turgenev upheld the freedom of different societies to pursue different paths of development and of individuals to pursue, even in opposition to powerful historical forces, their own goals and values. Here Turgenev endorsed the celebrated dictum of Alexander Herzen, with whom he disagreed on other matters: that history has no libretto. Human history is a realm of contingency and unpredictability, in which each generation faces conflicts that have no ideal solution.john n. gray
Feminism has exceeded its proper mission of seeking political equality for women and has ended by rejecting contingency, that is, human limitation by nature or fate.camille paglia
"The contingency is remote." (This is also a Jeeves quote in the PG Wodehouse Novels)jack vance
The bomb reveals the dreadful and total contingency of human existence. Existentialism is the philosophy of the atomic age.
"Get your boys ready. However this turns out, there'll be trouble and they'll need more than tear gas and pepperballs to deal with it." "I see," Assad said, unhappy. A nod to the ASPS, and the soldiers opened more cases, taking out compact FN P90 submachine guns. "Another contingency," he told Nina and Macy. "I really hope we don't have to use them, Mr. Chase."
What kind of God can one infer from the sort of phenomena epitomized by the species on Darwin's Galapagos Islands? The evolutionary process is rife with happenstance, contingency, incredible waste, death, pain and horror.… The God of the Galapagos is careless, wasteful, indifferent, almost diabolical. He is certainly not the sort of God to whom anyone would be inclined to pray.
[C]ontingency is a thing unto itself, not the titration of determinism by randomness.stephen jay gould
contingency is rich and fascinating; it embodies an exquisite tension between the power of individuals to modify history and the intelligible limits set by laws of nature. The details of individual and species's lives are not mere frills, without power to shape the large-scale course of events, but particulars that can alter entire futures, profoundly and forever.stephen jay gould