Cleopatra's Nose: Historical Contingency and Why it Matters

What do we mean when we characterise certain events, such as the collapse of the Soviet Union, or the spreading of a new mutation of COVID as necessary or inevitable? Conversely, what do we mean when judging these to be contingent, supposing they could have turned out differently (if only …)? These familiar notions sound beguilingly unproblematic; indeed, they pervade common thinking about determinism and chance. Yet, perusing their place in history, literature, the evolution of life, and the present climate crisis, this talk sheds new light on the concepts of historical contingency and necessity, and explores some of their moral implications.

The presentation will be followed by discussion and drinks.

The event is free and open to all.