History of European Ideas 43 (7):701-731 (2017)

Jeffrey Pocock
University of London
ABSTRACTThis essay is speculative in character. It is the work of a historian who has completed a study, written on certain principles, of the first three volumes of Gibbon’s Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire and does not intend to advance to a similar study of the second three. He does, however, believe that such a study would differ profoundly from that he has constructed of the first trilogy and wishes to offer hypotheses as to why this should be so. All hypotheses invite falsification, and he will make statements about the second trilogy and its hypothetical construction which invite research with results to which they may or may not stand up. To do this will be an exercise in the history of historiography, a sub-discipline still in progress of establishing itself. It will also give the author the opportunity of extending certain generalizations he was led to advance in writing and completing his study of Gibbon’s first trilogy, and of enquiring whether they remain valid in the light of a study of the second – given that this study is still at a hypothetical stage.
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DOI 10.1080/01916599.2017.1332909
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