N° 496
Accounting for Uncertainty: Prediction and Planning in Asian History
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This preprint is a glossary of uncertainty, closely connected to six specific case studies, which provides an insight into diverse uncertainties and coping methods that were historically discussed and practiced in China and Japan. When people encountered unknowingness or uncertainty in various historical periods, these endeavors were processed in ways that some called predicting, and others thought of as plans or ways to “think ahead”. Still other notions had a very particular character, so not all forms of accounting for and framing the not-yet-known were transferrable beyond an individual example or region. Yet what such forms of explanation often seem to have had in common was a wide range of material formats: in attempts to predict or plan, people may have been less concerned about truthfulness than they were with finding traceable patterns—seeking reliability in repetition.