What if “the root cause” is more contingency?

Contingency is also a way to think about alternatives, and thus adopt a skeptical approach to deterministic discourses. Éric Monnet, French economist

When it comes to simplifying, we mustn’t forget those who go for “the root cause” in all these policy messes.

But which root cause? Hegelian estrangement, Marxian false consciousness, Weberian disenchantment, Freudian defense mechanisms, Sartrean bad faith, Orwellian doublethink, Gramscian hegemony, or Goebbels’s Big Lie? Or is the root cause, in that famous “last instance,” Kuhnian paradigms, Foucauldian discipline, or God’s plan or that sure bet, money—or have I stopped short of the Truly-Rooted Root Cause?

Root-cause explanations are exaggerations, each pretending an outsized clarity that isn’t there. (Geoffrey Hill, the poet, put it, “the very idea of a ‘transparent’ verbal medium is itself an inherited and inherent opacity.”)

Root causes wash out the differentiation. It is one thing to say the present advances to the future it renders for itself; it is quite another thing to say the future advances to the contingencies the present affords. It’s like finding out the best hamburger in town is at the Vietnamese diner.

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