Catastrophism and Hindsight: Narrative Hermeneutics in Biology and in Historiography
BEYOND BORDERS: REDEFINING GENERIC AND ONTOLOGICAL BOUNDARIES, pp. 105-119, Ramón Plo-Alastrue, María Jesús Martínez-Alfaro, eds., Heidelberg: Winter, (Anglistische Forschungen, 303), 2002
8 Pages Posted: 19 Apr 2010 Last revised: 21 Apr 2010
Date Written: 2000
The paper deals with some cognitive implications of hindsight bias. It examines some analogies between contemporary views on the evolution of life on one hand and present-day textual hermeneutics on the other. For the purpose of my analysis, these disciplines will be represented by two works: "Wonderful Life", by Stephen Jay Gould, and "Foregone Conclusions", by Michael André Bernstein. Both evince an intense awareness of the inescapably narrative nature of historical studies, and both warn against teleological interpretations of history. Such directionality is denounced as the product of hindsight, a perspectival illusion resulting from the narrative nature of history.
Keywords: Hindsight, Hindsight bias, Historiography, Evolution, Narrativity, Narrative, Stephen Jay Gould, Michael André Bernstein, Teleology, History, Fallacies, Retrospection
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