Imagine the following situation: You start working in a new job and you have to deal with a task unfamiliar to you. It is known to you that there have been projects before which had dealt with the same kind of issues. However, the employees involved in these projects have already left the firm and you cannot get hold of them anymore. The only means to make sense of their work are some written documents, the communicative traces they have left behind. By browsing through the documents, you are impressed by their achievements, they have left extensive documentation of their success in fulfilling the particular tasks you are supposed to do from now on. However, the documents come short on any information regarding the processes and methodology behind their success. The presentation of results does not allow you to get an idea of decisive situations the project team was facing, what alternatives they had considered, and why they had chosen the way they proceeded in the end. In other words, the documents lack any information of the contingency of the project process.


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  1. 1.
    The multi-optionality of today’s lives is described in a recent novel by Kunkel (2006). However, looking into the contingency of someone’s own existence can cause severe feelings of vertigo or nausea (cf. Sartre, 1956: 343). As a prevention, Rorty suggests to adopt the role of the “liberal ironist” — being defined as “the sort of person who faces up to the contingency of his or her own most central beliefs and desires” (Rorty, 1989: xv).Google Scholar

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