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.
Our world is not an optimal place, fine tuned by omnipotent forces of selection. It is a quirky mass of imperfections, working well enough (often admirably); a jury-rigged set of adaptations built of curious parts made available by past histories in different contexts. […] A world optimally adapted to current environments is a world without history, and a world without history might have been created as we find it. History matters; it confounds perfection and proves that current life transformed its own past.stephen jay gould
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