Character of an event depending on chance.
Environmental events, for example, are sometimes contingent, which means that the system is unable to forecast them, as they do not enter in any determined process.
As observed by St. GOULD: "Contingency is the affirmation of control by immediate events over destiny, the kingdom lost for want of a horseshoe naiI"
Contingency should not be confused with indeterminacy. The fortuitous event does not annulate causality. It merely triggers it in unpredicted circunstances.
For example the deeper roots of a conflict and in most cases the ways it will evolve are mostly independent of the specific circumstance that started it. A good example is the first world war, triggered but not caused by the assessination by a Serb of an Austrian archiduke in Sarajevo. Causes were of a very wider and deeper scope and war could have been triggered by any other fortuitous incident (See R. ARON, 1961)… or avoided at least for some time.
Contigency strongly limits the possibility of formulating absolutely rigorous laws in social sciences and history, wherein controlled experiences are impossible and events never repeat in an identical way.
Contingency has to see with the relation between a system and its environment. It corresponds to the generally very high variety in the environment&and also to the high internal variety of the system. O. THYSSEN (1995, p. 16) explains LUHMANN's view on the subject: "A stable system is not a system which does not change at all, but a system which is able to maintain its identity and performance in spite of high contingency in the environment and the system itself:. And "contingency forces a system to relate to a rich repertoire of unstable and uncertain states, so that the system faces a permanent pressure to choose"
Systemics tries to reduce contingency by replacing events in a more general reference frame. In this sense, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and hurricanes, for instance, will remain contingent until better global theories would eventually decrease their unpredictability.
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To cite this page, please use the following information:
Bertalanffy Center for the Study of Systems Science (2020). Title of the entry. In Charles François (Ed.), International Encyclopedia of Systems and Cybernetics (2). Retrieved from www.systemspedia.org/[full/url]
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