Hasard et Histoire / Chance and History

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Thierry MARTIN


In Western philosophical tradition the place of chance in the history of human societies is either seen as a characteristic way of existence, and thus history is reduced to a form of chaos solely dependent on individual or collective passions and interests, or is put aside by reason of fatalism or necessitarianism, dependent on providence or a higher order acting behind the visible contingency of historical events. This article will show that such indecision between the two points of view comes from an inadequate definition of the notion of chance, and will discuss the works of the philosopher Augustin Cournot (1801-1877) in reconciling historical determinism and contingency of historical events.


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