Several attempts have been made recently to apply Darwinian evolutionary theory to the study of culture change and social history. The essential elements in such a theory are that variations occur in a population, and that a process of selective retention operates during their replication and transmission. Location of such variable “units” in the semantic structure of cognition provides the individual psychological basis for an evolutionary theory of history. Selection operates on both the level of (...) cognition and on its “phenotypic” expression in action in relation to individual preferred sources of psychological satisfaction. Social power comprises the principal selective forces within the sociocultural environment. Sociocultural evolution takes place both as a result of the unintended consequences of action and through the struggle of individuals and groups in pursuit of opposing interests. The implications for historiography are methodological in that evolutionary theory of history sharpens the focus of explanatory situational analysis, and interpretive in that it provides a paradigmatic metanarrative for the understanding of historical change. (shrink)
The “exemplification theory of history” is proposed to account for the relationship between the past and historical narratives. The theory states that what belongs to the past according to some narrative does so in order to exemplify the historical thesis of that narrative. As such the theory explains how the past receives its meaning. This implies that the past has no intrinsic historical meaning itself. Moreover, it follows that historical narratives possess an autonomy of their own (...) with regard to the past. It is argued that the exemplification theory of history goes to the heart of narrativist philosophy of history. This claim is supported by the key arguments of three narrativist philosophers: Arthur Danto, Louis Mink and Frank Ankersmit. The distinction between the history of social individuals and the identification of such individuals turns out to be fundamental in this respect. The article concludes by distinguishing between a Platonic and an Aristotelian view on narrative and by explaining why we ought to prefer the former to the latter. (shrink)
THIS VOLUME owcs its existence to the suggestion and the persuasive insistence of my friend and colleague Justus Buchler... the unpublished papers dealing with "the theory of history" and “the theory of nature” bulked large enough to form a volume in themselves. Hence the volume appears ...with [these] essays in philosophic analysis of two themes that have for some years been central in my own interests. -/- Each of the two Parts deals with a unified theme, and (...) the two together not only exhibit, it is hoped, a consistent philosophic attitude and approach, but also treat two different aspects of what is a common metaphysical inquiry. Aside from the prologue and the epilogue, none of these papers has appeared in this form before... History and nature together offer the great challenge to the philosophic mind. [Excerpt from Foreword]. (shrink)
The constructionist thesis of history states, in general, that the historian must construct a theory to explain the past. Some, including Leon Goldstein, attempt to push this formulation beyond a description of historical methodology. They argue that since the real past is inaccessible to present observation, the real past can have no relevance for historiography. The distinctions made between the present, the real past, and the historical past generate problems with the concepts of past and present knowledge, theoretical (...) infrastructure and experience, verification and truth, conflicting historical theories, and observation and knowledge. Goldstein's formulation of the constructionist thesis assumes the conflicting positions that experiential perception is paradigmatic of all methods of acquiring knowledge, and that knowledge is itself a kind of experience. As well as conflicting with commonsense views, his thesis is internally incoherent. (shrink)
PROVIDENCE » 1 mm, doctrine of the modifications of the human mind con- 1 stitutes the first principle of the synthesis of time and idea A and, therefore, the first positive element of the Vichian theory of history. This synthesis is achieved in ...
Several attempts have been made recently to apply Darwinian evolutionary theory to the study of culture change and social history. The essential elements in such a theory are that variations occur in population, and that a process of selective retention operates during their replication and transmission. Location of such variable units in the semantic structure of cognition provides the individual psychological basis for an evolutionary theory of history. Selection operates on both the level of cognition (...) and on its phenotypic expression in action in relation to individual preferred sources of psychological satisfaction. Social power comprises the principal selective forces within the unintended consequences of action and through the struggle of individuals and groups in pursuit of opposing interests. The implication for historiography are methodological in that evolutionary theory of history sharpens the focus of explanatory situational analysis, and interpretive in that it provides a paradigmatic metanarrative for the understanding of historical change. (shrink)
Relational theories of art—paradigmatically, the ‘Institutional’ theory—arose from dissatisfaction with the Wittgenstein-inspired ‘family resemblance’ account of art, and were taken not merely to be preferable in various ways to that account, but actually to falsify it. We argue that this latter thought is rooted in a fundamental misunderstanding of the falsification-conditions of a family resemblance account; and we suggest that, once the reasons for this are appreciated, any apparent motivation to engage in relational theorizing about art evaporates.
Biological functions are dispositions or effects a trait has which explain the recent maintenance of the trait under natural selection. This is the "modern history" approach to functions. The approach is historical because to ascribe a function is to make a claim about the past, but the relevant past is the recent past; modern history rather than ancient.
Sartre and Foucault were two of the most prominent and at times mutually antagonistic philosophical figures of the twentieth century. And nowhere are the antithetical natures of their existentialist and poststructuralist philosophies more apparent than in their disparate approaches to historical understanding. A history, thought Foucault, should be a kind of map, a comparative charting of structural transformations and displacements. But for Sartre, authentic historical understanding demanded a much more personal and committed narrative, a kind of interpretive diary of (...) moral choices and risks compelled by critical necessity and an exacting reality. Sartre's history, a rational history of individual lives and their intrinsic social worlds, was in essence immersed in biography. In Volume One of this authoritative two-volume work, Thomas R. Flynn conducts a pivotal and comprehensive reconstruction of Sartrean historical theory, and provocatively anticipates the Foucauldian counterpoint to come in Volume Two. (shrink)
Mills writes: G. A. Cohen's influential ‘technological determinist’ reading of Marx's theory of history rests in part on an interpretation of Marx's use of ‘material’ whose idiosyncrasy has been insufficiently noticed. Cohen takes historical materialism to be asserting the determination of the social by the material/asocial, viz. ‘socio‐neutral’ facts about human nature and human rationality which manifest themselves in a historical tendency for the forces of production to develop. This paper reviews Marx's writings to demonstrate the extensive textual (...) evidence in favour of the traditional interpretation ‐ that for Marx, the ‘material’ includes the economic, and is thus ineluctably social in character. Thus those critics of Cohen who have urged the inclusion of the relations of production in historical materialism's explanans do seem to have Marx's terminological and conceptual backing. (shrink)