Like the vast majority of pollsters, pundits, and other political observers, I was blindsided this past week by the election of Donald Trump. My Tuesday night consisted of watching the returns with some friends, and I remember noting the shock on the faces of many commentators as Clinton’s easy win turned into a loss. Given the almost universal consensus that Clinton would win, I wonder how much of a shot Trump thought he had. The importance of expressing confidence as a candidate would necessitate he claim he believed it to be possible while in public, but whether this was his private view is, as far as I am concerned, still open for speculation.
The reasons for Trump’s win are still being widely debated. So far I have heard people give responsibility to the neoliberal economic policies pursued by the Democrats, the racism and sexism still entrenched within society, the third party voters who were unwilling to compromise their principles, and Trump’s ability to present himself as an outsider candidate. Whatever the cause was (and I believe there are many different causes one can see depending on how one interprets the data), the result itself was unexpected by most. How to deal with unexpected situations, and the reasons why they occur, is something that philosophers have discussed for decades. Here are some papers and books that look at the ontological, metaphysical, ethical, and psychological nature of the unexpected, and what we can do about it.
- Richard L. Kirkham, “The Two Paradoxes of the Unexpected Examination,” Philosophical Studies: An International Journal for Philosophy in the Analytic Tradition, January 1986
- Amanda Fulford, “Education: Expectation and the Unexpected,” Studies in Philosophy & Education, July 2016
- Mark Currie, The Unexpected: Narrative Temporality and the Philosophy of Surprise, Edinburgh University Press, 2015
- Georges Verne, “Individuation and the Emergence of the Unexpected,” Journal of Analytical Psychology, January 1969.
- Robyn Mallett, Timothy Wilson, and Daniel Gilbert, “Expect the Unexpected: Failure to Anticipate Similarities Leads to an Intergroup Forecasting Error,” Journal of Personality & Social Psychology, February 2008.
- Alain Badiou, Being and Event, Bloomsbury Revelations, 2013.
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