Catastrophism and Retrospection

13 Pages Posted: 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. (Downloadable document is in Spanish. Available in English as "Catastrophism and Hindsight").

Keywords: Narrative, Narrativity, Hermeneutics, Hindsight, Retrospection, Evolution, Historiography, Stephen Jay Gould, Gary Saul Morson, Teleology

Suggested Citation

Garcia Landa, Jose Angel, Catastrophism and Retrospection (2000). Available at SSRN: or

Jose Angel Garcia Landa (Contact Author)

Universidad de Zaragoza ( email )

Gran Via 2
Zaragoza, 50005


Do you have negative results from your research you’d like to share?

Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics