This paper attempts to give a critical appraisal of Professor Suresh Chandra’s views on Historiography of Civilization with reference to Dravidian Civilization. “Historiography of Indian Civilization: Harappans, Dravidians, Aryans and Gandhi’s freedom struggle” (published in JICPR June 1996) and “Demythologizing History: Dravidians in Relation to Harappans and the Aryans” (presented in the seminar on Dravidian Philosophy organized by Dravidian University, Kuppam) are the two significant works which are devoted to Historiography of civilization by Prof. Suresh Chandra. This (...) paper mainly confines to the first article since the second one, as the author himself stated, is an offshoot of the first. (shrink)
How do historians, comparative linguists, biblical and textual critics and evolutionary biologists establish beliefs about the past? How do they know the past? This book presents a philosophical analysis of the disciplines that offer scientific knowledge of the past. Using the analytic tools of contemporary epistemology and philosophy of science the book covers such topics as evidence, theory, methodology, explanation, determination and underdetermination, coincidence, contingency and counterfactuals in historiography. Aviezer Tucker's central claim is that historiography as a scientific (...) discipline should be thought of as an effort to explain the evidence of past events. He also emphasizes the similarity between historiographic methodology to Darwinian evolutionary biology. This is an important, fresh new approach to historiography and will be read by philosophers, historians and social scientists interested in the methodological foundations of their disciplines. (shrink)
This paper surveys the parallel fates of the notion of the empirical in philosophy of science in the 20th century and the notion of experience as evidence in one important line of debate in historiography/philosophy of history. The focus concerns the presumably crucial role some notion of the empirical plays in the assessment of knowledge claims. The significance of 'the empirical' disappears on the assumption that theories either determine what counts as experience or explain away any apparently discordant evidence. (...) One consequence of this has been the suggestion that the analysis of meaning somehow replaces or supplants that played by evidence qua fact. This dispute impacts in parallel ways the turf wars between philosophers of science and practitioners of science studies as well as disputes in historiography between literary theorists and those not so kindly disposed. The parallels suggest why historiographic debate has stalled for three decades. (shrink)
The sixteen essays in this volume confront the current debate about the relationship between philosophy and its history. On the one hand intellectual historians commonly accuse philosophers of writing bad - anachronistic - history of philosophy, and on the other, philosophers have accused intellectual historians of writing bad - antiquarian - history of philosophy. The essays here address this controversy and ask what purpose the history of philosophy should serve. Part I contains more purely theoretical and methodological discussion, of such (...) questions as whether there are 'timeless' philosophical problems, whether the issues of one epoch are commensurable with those of another, and what style is appropriate to the historiography of the subject. The essays in Part II consider a number of case-histories. They present important revisionist scholarship and original contributions on topics drawn from ancient, early modern and more recent philosophy. All the essays have been specially commissioned, and the contributors include many of the leading figures in the field. The volume as a whole will be of vital interest to everyone concerned with the study of philosophy and of its history. (shrink)
As historians of science increasingly turn to work on recent (post 1945) science, the historiographical and methodological problems associated with the history of contemporary science are debated with growing frequency and urgency. This book brings together authorities on the history, historiography and methodology of recent and contemporary science to review the problems facing historians of contemporary science, technology and medicine and to explore new ways forward. The chapters explore topics which will be of ever increasing interest to historians of (...) postwar science, including the difficulties of accessing and using secret archival material, the interactions between archivists, historians and scientists and the politics of evidence and historical accounts. (shrink)
The use of general and universal laws in historiography has been the subject of debate ever since the end of the nineteenth century. Since the 1970s there has been a growing consensus that general laws such as those in the natural sciences are not applicable in the scientific writing of history. We will argue against this consensus view, not by claiming that the underlying conception of what historiography is—or should be—is wrong, but by contending that it is based (...) on a misconception of what general laws such as those of the natural sciences are. We will show that a revised notion of law, one inspired by the work of Sandra D. Mitchell, in tandem with Jim Woodward’s notion of “invariance,” is indeed applicable to historiography, much in the same way as it is to most other scientific disciplines. Having developed a more adequate account of general laws, we then show, by means of three examples, that what are called “pragmatic laws” and “invariance” do in fact play a role in history in several interesting ways. These examples—from cultural history, economic history, and the history of religion—have been selected on the basis of their diversity in order to illustrate the widespread use of pragmatic laws in history. (shrink)
It was a common practice of the Chinese official historiographers to employ pseudo-historical, semi-fictional source materials alongside the factual, ascertainable data in their narratives for prescribed political or didactic purposes despite their commitment to the time-honored principles of truth and objectivity in the Confucian-oriented traditional historiography. The intrusion of these non-historical elements in the imperial historical records illustrates, therefore, the adaptability of the source materials representing the popular tradition of the masses for the uses of the great tradition, and (...) the propensity of the reciprocal exchanges between the expressions of the Confucian literati and the less cultured populace in historical compositions. Drawing on a textual analysis of the T'ai-tsu shih-lu, the reign chronicle of the Ming founder Chu Yüan-chang, who rose from a humble peasant to the imperial throne in 1368, this essay examines the historical circumstances and historiographical devices by which the factual records were commingled with the non-historical materials in the accounts of the dynasty founding. It shows how the historiographers synthesized the pseudo-historical expressions in the popular tradition with the deliberately fabricated falsehoods of their own doing to conjure up an inflated portrait of the Ming founder, transforming him from an illiterate, beggar mendicant monk and rebel leader into the topoi of a righteous hero, dynasty founder and exemplar ruler in traditional official historiography. It also shows that apart from the historiographers' penchant for conformity to the established conventions, the exaggerated portrait of the Ming founder in the T'ai-tsu shih-lu was a product of a historiographical revision undertaken on order of the third emperor Yung-lo, fourth son of T'ai-tsu, aiming at legitimizing his usurpation of the throne from his nephew the imperial successor Chien-wen in a palace rebellion of 1402. Lastly, it shows how the early Ming revision of the records of the rise of T'ai-tsu inspired a cycle of bizarre legends about the early years of the dynasty founding in later official and private writings, and how a case study of such historiographical process may add to our understanding of the continuous interactions between the expressions of the élite and mass heritages in the making of the Chinese intellectual and cultural traditions. (shrink)
The selective survival of the corpus of ancient Greek historiography was in large part due to Byzantine historical and religious interests, combined with the ancient valorization, on literary grounds, of the three Classical historians. Our corpus generally reflects the Byzantine interest in Roman history, especially regime-changes, and sacred history, especially the Hellenistic context of Jewish history. Selections from ancient historians dealing with those themes were, in some cases, circulating independently already from the tenth century. The Byzantines had little interest (...) in Hellenistic or local histories. This paper concludes by examining two moments (or ) of survival and selection, Photios' Bibliotheke and the Constantinian Excerpta. Our corpus was largely in place by the time of the Excerpta, and the loss of some texts read by Photios may have been facilitated by the process of transliteration but was due to the same selective interests. (shrink)
The aim of this paper is analyse the notion of Central Europe used in historiography. The author reconstructs different meanings of this term used in the works of George Schopflin, Peter Burke, Oskar Halecki, Piotr Wandycz. This notion has not only geographic but also social and historical meaning.
Organized thematically, this important five-volume set brings together key essays from the field of historical studies. Including an extensive general introduction by the editor in the first volume, as well as shorter individual introductions in each of the following volumes, this set is essential reading for scholars and students alike. Coverage includes: 1. Foundations - The Classic Tradition - The Old Cultural History - Economic History 2: Society - Social History - Marxism - Annales - History of Mentalities 3: Ideas (...) - History of Ideas/ Intellectual History - History of Science - History of the Arts - History of Religion - History of Sexuality. 4: Culture - History and Anthropology - Microhistory - New Cultural History - History and Memory - The Poetics of History - Narrativity. Postmodernist Historiography and its Critics 5: Politics - Political History - Imperialism and Postcolonial History - World History - World-Systems Analysis. (shrink)
Abstract: Pragmatism involves simultaneous commitments to modes of inquiry that are philosophical and historical. This article begins by demonstrating this point as it is evidenced in the historicist pragmatisms of William James and John Dewey. Having shown that pragmatism focuses philosophical attention on concrete historical processes, the article turns to a discussion of the specific historiographical commitments consistent with this focus. This focus here is on a pragmatist version of historical inquiry in terms of the central historiographical categories of the (...) object of historical inquiry and mode of historical periodization. After describing the basic historiographical consequences of pragmatism's historicism, the article moves to a discussion of the philosophical results of this historicism. The focus here is on the role that historical inquiry can play in the general philosophical perspective of pragmatism as well as on some recent texts that exemplify the dual pragmatist commitment to philosophy and history. (shrink)
The paper focuses on the concept of matter and the material in Edgar Zilsel’s considerations about historiographical methods in the context of the Marxist debates on the materialist conception of history in the 1920s and 1930s (György Lukács, Max Adler). It sheds light on Zilsel’s understanding of matter as fluctuating, interfering processes in the lapse of time and the related concept of irreversible laws and relates it to Ernst Mach’s philosophy and to Richard Semon’s theory of mneme . Finally, it (...) shows the practical consequences of the concept of materialism in Edgar Zilsel’s epistemology. (shrink)
This paper examines the consequences for agency that Foucault’s historiographical approach constructs. The analysis begins by explaining the difference between ‘legislative history’ and ‘exemplary history,’ drawing parallels to similar theoretical distinctions offered in the works of Max Weber, J.L. Austin, and Zygmunt Bauman. The analysis continues by reading Habermas’s critique of Foucault through the tropological lenses suggested by White [Metahistory. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1973]; it argues that Habermas’s critique misrecognizes the tropes of Foucaultian genealogy. The paper draws (...) implications for education by articulating possibilities for praxis and agency in terms of pedagogy specifically related to the distinction between didactics and modeling. The paper concludes by suggesting that genealogy does not ‘play by Hegel’s rules,’ but rather exemplifies agency in ways that are not recognizable from a modernist perspective. (shrink)
This paper aims to apply contemporary theories of causation to historiography. The main purpose is to show that historians can use the concept of causation in a variety of ways, each of which is associated with different historiographical claims and different kinds of argumentation. Through this application, it will also become clear, contrary to what is often stated, that historical narratives are (in a specific way) causal, and that micro-history can be seen as a response to a very specific (...) (causal) problem of Braudelian macro-history. (shrink)
We analyze the developments in mathematical rigor from the viewpoint of a Burgessian critique of nominalistic reconstructions. We apply such a critique to the reconstruction of infinitesimal analysis accomplished through the efforts of Cantor, Dedekind, and Weierstrass; to the reconstruction of Cauchy’s foundational work associated with the work of Boyer and Grabiner; and to Bishop’s constructivist reconstruction of classical analysis. We examine the effects of a nominalist disposition on historiography, teaching, and research.
This article argues that the perception of decline among philosophers of history reflects the diffused weak academic status of the discipline, as distinct from the booming research activity and demand for philosophy of history that keeps pace with the growth rate of publications in the philosophies of science and law. This growth is justified and rational because the basic problems of the philosophy of history, concerning the nature of historiographical knowledge and the metaphysical assumptions of historiography, have maintained their (...) relevance. Substantive philosophy of history has an assured popularity but is not likely to win intellectual respectability because of its epistemic weaknesses. I suggest focusing on problems that a study of historiography can help to understand and even solve, as distinct from problems that cannot be decided by an examination of historiography, such as the logical structure of explanation (logical positivism) and the relation between language and reality (post-structuralism). In particular, following Quine's naturalized epistemology, I suggest placing the relation between evidence and historiography at the center of the philosophy of historiography. Inspired by the philosophy of law, I suggest there are three possible relations between input (evidence) and output in historiography: determinism, indeterminism, and underdeterminism. An empirical examination of historiographical agreement, disagreement, and failure to communicate may indicate which relation holds at which parts of historiography. The historiographical community seeks consensus, but some areas are subject to disagreements and absence of communication; these are associated with historiographical schools that interpret conflicting models of history differently to fit their evidence. The reasons for this underdetermination of historiography by evidence needs to be investigated further. (shrink)
Historiography in a metaphysical mode Content Type Journal Article Pages 1-17 DOI 10.1007/s11016-011-9524-6 Authors Bernadette Bensaude-Vincent, CETCOPRA/Université Paris 1-Panthéon-Sorbonne, 17 Rue de la Sorbonne, 75231 Paris Cedex05, France Jan Golinski, Department of History, University of New Hampshire, 20 Academic Way, Durham, NH 03824, USA Lissa L. Roberts, Department of Science, Technology and Policy Studies (STePS), University of Twente, Postbox 217, 7500 AE Enschede, The Netherlands John McEvoy, Department of Philosophy, University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, OH 45221, USA Journal Metascience Online (...) ISSN 1467-9981 Print ISSN 0815-0796. (shrink)
Historians of science, like all historians, know well that every account of the history of science is necessarily an interpretation of the history of science. It requires decisions on what is important and what not, it requires ordering, contextualizing, and interpreting the available material, and presenting the results in a final form that sounds plausible to readers. Because a majority of the readers of histories of science are scientists, the degree of plausibility and acceptability depends on what scientists expect from (...) the historiography of science. As a rule, scientists expect much, too much than historians of science can fulfill without giving up their scholarly standards. Indeed, many scientist wish to read entertaining stories that make science, or their discipline, look particular attractive and interesting to a broader public. They may have their personal heroes, schools, or nations that they expect to be duly honored and celebrated. They want historians to focus on what they consider essential in order to carve socio-historical identities of disciplines or subdisciplines. They like to see progress in the historical development with one or the other revolution. They are yearning for meaning of the historical whole, such that individual scientific activities, including their own, make sense in the whole, and that one can draw extrapolations from the past to provide directions and goals for the future. In order to meet all these expectations, a meta-narrative is required that professional historians are reluctant to adopt. And so scientists are inclined to write their own histories of science for personal satisfaction. In chemistry, the most powerful meta-narrative that satisfies all the mentioned and other historiographic needs of chemists is a story about “chemistry versus nature”. It was invented and is still cultivated by chemists alone, without support and without objections thus far, from historians of chemistry. While the story has provided strong metaphysical orientation to chemists, it has caused rather alienation and hostility outside of chemistry. In this paper I will provide a brief history of the meta-narrative “chemistry versus nature”.. (shrink)
This article examines the revisionist role that current debates and philosophical positions on extended cognition might play for the historian of science, and uses as its case study August Kekulé’s formulation of the benzene molecule’s structure, including the dreams that Kekulé reported as the origin of his model. It builds on the notion of engaging philosophical positions through the historiography of nineteenth-century chemistry, but also examines some of the implications of the history of science for extended cognition. While an (...) extended cognition approach to Kekulé’s use of graphics and visual materials is promising, I argue that there is less usefulness for the idea of collective cognition. Instead I advocate using detailed historical studies to test theories of extended cognition. (shrink)
This paper argues that evaluation of the truth and rationality of past scientific theories is both possible and profitable. The motivation for this enterprise is traced to recent discussions by I. Lakatos, L. Laudan and others on the import of history for the philosophy of science; several objections to it are considered and T. S. Kuhn is found to advance the most substantive. An argument for establishing judgements of rationality and truth in the face of scientific revolutions is presented; finally (...) evidence is offered for the value of such assessments to historiography and to debates on scientific progress. (shrink)
The Dutch historiography of the middle of the 19th century was a culture of honour. Disputes over the reputations of historical figures were manifold. This article focuses on one controversy specifically that took place in the 1840s. The subject of debate was the 16th -century nobleman Henry of Brederode, his deeds, his character and his morals. The controversy was not only about content, however. Many suppositions about doing history and being a historian that otherwise remain tacit, were made explicit (...) in the controversy – especially concerning archive-based history. First, the participating historians themselves were judged – somewhat like Brederode himself – on the virtuousness, including the epistemic virtuousness, of their behaviour. Second, it was discussed whether archival documents (in this case: personal letters) were fit for use in historiography. To some, the use of these personal letters was ethically unjustifiable. Third, the location from which historical knowledge originated, mainly the archive, came under scrutiny. The singularity of the archive made historians relying on archival material prone to attacks on their trustworthiness. (shrink)
A British historian might be excused for looking slightly askance at any collection of recent books relating to the philosophy of history. This is because we have been told, several times over and by distinguished members of the profession, that such speculative and analytic activity has little, if anything, to do with the actual business of historiography. One of the most forthright warnings was delivered on the very first page of Professor G. R. Elton's The Practice of History (1967), (...) when we were advised that: ‘Every new number of History and Theory is liable to contain yet another article struggling to give history a philosophic base, and some of them are interesting. But they do not, I fear, advance the writing of history’. For Elton, therefore, there could be little point in granting his colleague in another discipline the right to assess the cognitive claims of historiography. The historian himself, and he alone, was qualified to determine, for all practical purposes, the aims and applications of historical method. It was left to the late Arnold Toynbee to diagnose (in Toynbee on Toynbee, 1974) the dangers in this protectionist approach. He claimed that Elton was ‘trying deliberately to create a closed circuit of “professional” historians’ which was, in his opinion, ‘fatal to any form of study’. But of course Toynbee's own lack of standing within the historical profession could be put forward as a telling index of the dangers of transgressing the barriers between history and philosophy. (shrink)
The author argues that the pragmatically oriented historiography of science that recently has been so strongly recommended has fallen into the mistake of focusing on scientists' circumstantial attempts to fix beliefs without discussing the scientific importance of the beliefs in the first place. This mistake has led historians of science to engage in pointless exercises, made them mute about crucial aspects of the development of science, and, above all, prevented them from avoiding, in a satisfactory way, the ghost of (...) "triumphalism." On the other hand, so-called traditional historiography of science is not vulnerable to any of these charges. Key Words: history of science sociology of science scientific revolution SSK. (shrink)
Counterfactual reasoning is broadly implicated in causal claims made by historians. However, this point is more generally recognized and accepted by economic historians than historians of science. A good site for examining alternative appeals to counterfactuals is to consider "what if" the Scientific Revolution had not occurred in seventeenth-century Europe. Two alternative interpretations are analyzed: that the revolution would eventually have happened somewhere else ("overdeterminism") or that the revolution would not have happened at all ("underdeterminism"). Broadly speaking, these two interpretations (...) correspond to the respective attitudes of philosophers and historians to the development of science. However, a case is presented for synthesizing the two interpretations into a normative historiography of science that would allow past and present concerns to interrogate each other. This exercise in counterfactual reasoning can be imagined in the spirit of a time traveler who aims to persuade, rather than simply understand, the natives he or she encounters. (shrink)
Stepping-up the historiography of peripheral popularisation Content Type Journal Article DOI 10.1007/s11016-010-9454-8 Authors Aileen Fyfe, School of History, University of St Andrews, St Katharine’s Lodge, The Scores, St Andrews, Fife, KY16 9AR UK Journal Metascience Online ISSN 1467-9981 Print ISSN 0815-0796.
One of the reasons the history of parapsychology and its ancestor psychical research is intriguing is because it addresses a central issue: the boundaries of science. This article provides an overview of the historiography of parapsychology and presents an approach to investigate the Dutch history of parapsychology contributing to the understanding of this central theme. In the first section the historical accounts provided by psychical researchers and parapsychologists themselves are discussed; next those studies of sociologists and historians understanding parapsychology (...) as deviant and even potentially revolutionary are dealt with; third, more contemporary studies are examined whereby enterprises such as parapsychology are understood as central to the culture in which they arose. On the basis of this analysis a new direction in the historiography of the subject is suggested in the fourth section, centred upon the relation between parapsychology and psychology in the Netherlands throughout the 20th century. In the Netherlands not only were pioneering psychologists such as Gerard Heymans (1857–1930) actively involved in experiments into telepathy, the first professor in parapsychology in the world – Wilhelm Tenhaeff (1894–1981) – was appointed in 1953 at Utrecht University and in the 1970s and 1980s parapsychology had its own research laboratory at Utrecht University in the division of psychology. This unique situation in the Netherlands deserves scholarly attention and makes an interesting case to investigate the much-neglected connections between the fields of psychology and parapsychology in the 20th century. The connections between psychology and parapsychology might help us to understand why parapsychology came to be regarded as a pseudoscience. (shrink)
During the second half of the 18th-century Belgian historiography developed from the discipline of ?writing? history and collecting historical information towards the discipline of ?studying? history. The ?old? historian wrote a ?history? in which (by definition) as many data as possible concerning (the past of) a subject (a province, a city, a diocese, an institution) were gathered. The ?new? historian on the other hand wrote a ?dissertation?, the topic of which was not so much the past of a certain (...) entity (geographical or historical), but rather a historical and/or historiographical issue. This transformation of historiography concerned a lot of different aspects of this particular intellectual activity, including the position of the reader, who now was supposed to be interested in historical research as such. These shifts coincide and are partly determined by the ?invention? of a Belgian national history (the general history of the Austrian Netherlands), which gradually replaced the particular historiography of the old principalities (such as the country of Flanders and the duchy of Brabant). Henceforth Belgian historians did not have to write a multitude of histories anymore, they now all worked on one larger project, on just one history. Therefore their work consisted of mere contributions, they solved problems and allowed the Belgian history to be written, somewhere in the future. (shrink)
In this paper, I take up Herman Paul’s suggestion to analyze the process of writing history in terms of virtues. In contrast to Paul, however, I argue that the concept of virtue used here should not be based on virtue epistemology, but rather on virtue ethics. The reason is that virtue epistemology is discriminative towards non-coginitive virtues and incompatible with the Ankersmitian/Whitean view of historiography as a multivocal path from historical reality to historical representation. Virtue ethics on the other (...) hand, more specifically those forms of virtue ethics which emphasize the uncodifiability thesis, is very capable of providing such an account. In order to make this somewhat more concrete, I distinguish four important traits of virtue ethics, and I try to make clear how these can be interpreted with respect to the writing of history. (shrink)
This paper emphasizes the crucial role of variation, at several different levels, for a detailed historical understanding of the development of the biomedical sciences. Going beyond valuable recent studies that focus on model organisms, experimental systems and instruments, we argue that all of these categories can be accommodated within our approach, which pays special attention to organismal and cultural variation. Our empirical examples are drawn in particular from recent historical studies of nineteenth- and early twentieth-century genetics and physiology. Based on (...) the quasi-paradoxical conclusion that biological and cultural variation both constrains and enables innovation in the biomedical sciences, we argue that more attention should be paid to variation as an analytical category in the historiography of the life sciences. (shrink)
To begin, the so-called ‘selectivity of historical judgment’ is discussed. According to it, writing history requires a comparative criterion of historical relevance. This criterion contains philosophical elements. In Kuhn’s case, the criterion directs historical research and presentation away from Whiggish historiography by postulating a hermeneutic reading of historical sources. This postulate implies some sort of internalism, some sort of rationality of scientific development, and historical realism. To conclude, some consequences of Kuhn’s anti-Whiggism are discussed.Para empezar, se discute la llamada (...) “selectividad del juicio histórico”. De acuerdo con ello, escribir historia requiere un criterio comparativo de relevancia histórica. Este criterio contiene elementos filosóficos. En el caso de Kuhn, el criterio aleja la investigación y la presentación histórica de la historiografía Whig al postular una lectura hermenéutica de las fuentes históricas. Este postulado implica alguna clase de internismo, de racionalidad del desarrollo científico y realismo histórico. Para concluir, se discuten algunas consecuencias de la postura anti-Whig de Kuhn. (shrink)
Did John Dewey’s ‘new philosophy of education’ really try to dissolve the whole block of tradition or is his debt namely to educational core-concepts of neo-humanism deeper than he was prepared to acknowledge? After some general remarks on the process of reception as productive re-adaptation and its implication for historiography I will deal with Dewey’s own contexts that shape the interpretative grid through which he receives the tradition. Two case studies attempt to illustrate both continuity and discontinuity with a (...) specific part of this tradition, namely two critical perspectives within German neo-humanism: Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel and Johann Friedrich Herbart. (shrink)
In what follows I explore the question of fictionality in history writing. First, I venture into the unfamiliar genre of ego-histoire and make my own professional training in the tenets of positivist or realist historiography an object of theoretical reflection and critical analysis. Then as a way of dealing with the literary dimension of written history, I make a canonical work in history of education an object of rhetorical analysis. Finally, as another way of coming to terms with the (...) “fictions of historiography,” I revisit one of my own productions and make it an object of metacritical consideration. My central theme is that historiographical realism alone will not suffice , that historians are as dependant upon literary invention as upon documents, that history cannot be written without the aid of the “fictions of historiography,” and that the difference between the historian and the novelist is narrower than we may have been accustomed to think. I further argue that attention to the literary or rhetorical dimension of history is long overdue in history of education, where it flourishes unacknowledged. I conclude that historical writing is not just a literary pastime and the issue remains: how to come to grips with fictionalizing and the truth claims of historiography. (shrink)
This article situates Hannah Arendt’s On Revolution in the traditions of French and American revolutionary historiography to demonstrate that Arendt’s ‘fable’ of the American Revolution was at odds with her argument about the council form. I argue that had Arendt really wanted to inspire a resurrection of the council form in the present, she would have done better to orient her readers to the French Revolution, specifically to the experiments in democratic republicanism of the group known as the Girondins.