Contingency (philosophy)

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The word contingency with the adjective contingent ( Greek  τὰ ἐνδεχόμενα endechómena "something that is possible"; Middle Latin contingentia , "possibility, chance") is a philosophical term that u. a. is used in modal logic and ontology . “Contingent” denotes the status of facts, the existence of which is given and neither necessary nor impossible. Tying up locutions refer as "contingent being," also about the context of the philosophy of religion, a dependency on Vorursachen that one thing or a situation at all and so is how this or that is.

Modal logic definition

The language of modal logic makes it possible to speak formally about possibility ( ) and necessity ( ). expresses that may be true.

A is now called contingent (cont) if both A is possible and not-A is possible:

Contingency can therefore be seen as a particularly open form of possibility.


Since this term is difficult to grasp, claims have sometimes been made in the history of philosophy about the relationship between chance , probability and contingency. From the point of view of today's modal logic , however, contingency has nothing to do with probability.

The "contingency theory of truth" of the American neo-pragmatist and skeptic Richard Rorty is important in modern philosophy : it does not in principle exclude the possibility of depicting truth within systems of concepts. Rorty, however, declares any reflection on how such a truth status could be generated as idle. With this he asserts in a polemical position against classical idealism in particular that truth is ultimately not only a coincidental, but also an arbitrary mode of speech.

Contingency proof of God

One of the proofs of God is proof of contingency. This has been worked out in natural theology . Since nothing exists out of its own essential necessity, God must exist as the only absolute, non-essential being ( aseity ).


In anthropological terms , contingency is understood as unavailability . We cannot influence certain events. They are an experience ( Wilhelm Kamlah ). In Stoic philosophy, the unavailable is not relevant to happiness.

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