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History and EventFrom Marxism to Contemporary French Theory$
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Nathan Coombs

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780748698998

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: May 2017

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9780748698998.001.0001

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Afterword: Towards a Complex Science of History

Afterword: Towards a Complex Science of History

(p.163) Chapter 7 Afterword: Towards a Complex Science of History
History and Event

Nathan Coombs

Edinburgh University Press

This chapter begins by taking stock of the first two parts of the book. It argues that although classical Marxism cannot think events discontinuously, its science of history can at least be subjected to empirical verification. By contrast, while post-Althusserian theory succeeds in thinking events radically it does so on the basis of a self-referential rationalism that grants authority to theorists and is resistant to empirical control. To go beyond these philosophical traditions, the afterword suggests that complexity theory and ‘weak’ notions of emergence provide a way forward. Agent-based modelling of complex social systems offers a mediation of necessity and contingency that could help orient political strategy.

Keywords:   Philosophy, Complexity theory, Emergence, Agent-based modelling, Complex social systems, Necessity, Contingency, Politics, Strategy

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