The year 1492 is only the last in a series of “ends” that inform the representation of medieval Spain in modern Jewish historical and literary discourses. These ends simultaneously mirror the traumas of history and shed light on the discursive process by which hermetic boundaries are set between periods, communities, and texts. This book addresses the representation of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries as the end of al-Andalus (Islamic Spain). Here, the end works to locate and separate Muslim from (...) Christian Spain, Jews from Arabs, philosophy from Kabbalah, Kabbalah from literature, and texts from contexts. The book offers a reading of texts that emerge from its Andalusi, Jewish, and Arabic cultural sphere: Maimonides’ Guide of the Perplexed; the major text of Kabbalah, the Zohar; and the Arabic rhymed prose narrative of Ibn al-Astarkuwi. The author argues that these texts are written in a language that disrupts the possibility of locating it in a pre-existing cultural situation, a recognizable literary tradition, or a particular genre. At stake are issues – texts and contexts – that have gained particular urgency in the writings of such recent thinkers as Walter Benjamin, Jacques Derrida, Giorgio Agamben, Jean-Luc Nancy, and Avital Ronell. The book reads the place and taking place of language, interrogating the notion of disappearing contexts and the view that language is derivative of its true place, the context that, having ended, is mourned as silent and lost. (shrink)
Are mysticism and morality compatible or at odds with one another? If mystical experience embraces a form of non-dual consciousness, then in such a state of mind, the regulative dichotomy so basic to ethical discretion would seemingly be transcended and the very foundation for ethical decisions undermined. Venturing Beyond - Law and Morality in Kabbalistic Mysticism is an investigation of the relationship of the mystical and moral as it is expressed in the particular tradition of Jewish mysticism known as the (...) Kabbalah. The particular themes discussed include the denigration of the non-Jew as the ontic other in kabbalistic anthropology and the eschatological crossing of that boundary anticipated in the instituition of religious conversion; the overcoming of the distinction between good and evil in the mystical experience of the underlying unity of all things; divine suffering and the ideal of spiritual poverty as the foundation for transmoral ethics and hypernomian lawfulness. (shrink)
Chap. 1. Creativity in the first kabbalistic writings -- Chap. 2. The philosophic ethos -- Chap. 3. Investigating God in rabbinic and later Jewish literature -- Chap. 4. The philosophic ethos in the writings of the first kabbalists -- Chap. 5. Investigating God in Sefer ha-Bahir -- Chap. 6. The philosophic ethos in the writings of Nahmanides.
It is well known that, in both the Monas hieroglyphica and the Mathematicall praeface, Dee drew a part of his inspiration from Pico della Mirandola’s works. However, the nature and extent of Dee’s borrowings has not yet been studied. In fact, the only work of Pico really read and used by Dee was the 900 conclusions, where he found the conception of ‘formal numbers’: that is, mystical numbers carrying magical and divinatory powers. This is very important, since Dee sees these (...) numbers as the very instruments of ‘the law of Creation.’ Pico also played a major part in the foundation of Christian cabala: in this field, his influence on Dee was mainly indirect, given that Dee—in the wake of Geofroy Tory—extended to Greek and Latin the magical and mystical properties which Pico considered as an exclusive property of the Hebrew language. Thus, Dee transforms what he calls ‘vulgar cabala’—the part of cabala that deals with language—from a christianised Jewish cabala into a truly catholic cabala. But for Dee, this is only the lower sort of cabala: above it lies ‘real cabala’, that is, the art of transmuting any physical or spiritual body into another. ‘Vulgar’ magicians and alchemists fail to achieve their aim because they do not possess the mastery of this discipline. Dee took from Pico the notion that cabala is superior to magic, and that the latter cannot be successful unless supported by ‘the work of cabala.’ Finally, Dee’s conception of the ‘metamorphosis’ of the soul taking place between the ‘horizons’ of time and eternity is derived not only from Pico, but also from Thomas Aquinas’s Summa contra Gentiles. (shrink)
Ever since its first publication in 1992, The End of History and the Last Man has provoked controversy and debate. Francis Fukuyama's prescient analysis of religious fundamentalism, politics, scientific progress, ethical codes, and war is as essential for a world fighting fundamentalist terrorists as it was for the end of the Cold War. Now updated with a new afterword, The End of History and the Last Man is a modern classic.
This paper advances the view that the history of philosophy is both a kind of history and a kind of philosophy. Through a discussion of some examples from epistemology, metaphysics, and the historiography of philosophy, it explores the benefit to philosophy of a deep and broad engagement with its history. It comes to the conclusion that doing history of philosophy is a way to think outside the box of the current philosophical orthodoxies. Somewhat paradoxically, far from (...) imprisoning its students in outdated and crystallized views, the history of philosophy trains the mind to think differently and alternatively about the fundamental problems of philosophy. It keeps us alert to the fact that latest is not always best, and that a genuinely new perspective often means embracing and developing an old insight. The upshot is that the study of the history of philosophy has an innovative and subversive potential, and that philosophy has a great deal to gain from a long, broad, and deep conversation with its history. (shrink)
In this paper, I show how the phenomenological and hermeneutic traditions and method converge on their treatment of the historical subject. Thinkers from both traditions claim that subjectivity is shaped by a historical worldview. Each tradition provides an account of how these worldviews are shaped, and thus how essentially historical subjective experience is molded. I argue that both traditions, although offering helpful ways of understanding the way history shapes subjectivity, go too far in their epistemic claims for the superiority (...) of subjective over positivist or academic history I propose that although the phenomenological/ hermeneutic approach to historical subjectivity is valuable for understanding both history and human nature, it cannot and ought not replace academic or what I will call ‘critical’ history. By showing the importance of historicity, and the force of historical consciousness on our actions, philosophers of history in these traditions expose the epistemic and perhaps even ethical requirement to engage in a rigorous critical history, one that recognizes the importance of historical consciousness. Such critical history is necessary to move beyond the subjective horizon of history as experienced to understand how events shaped this historical horizon. (shrink)
_ Source: _Volume 10, Issue 3, pp 441 - 456 Several kinds of historical alternatives are distinguished. Different kinds of historical alternatives are valuable to the practice of history for different reasons. Important uses for historical alternatives include representing different sides of historical disputes; distributing chances of different outcomes over alternatives; and offering explanations of why various alternatives did _not_ in fact happen. Consideration of counterfactuals about what would have happened had things been different in particular ways plays particularly (...) useful roles in reasoning about historical analogues of current conditions; reasoning about causal claims; and in evaluating historical explanations. When evaluating the role of alternative histories in historical thinking, we should keep in mind the uses of historical alternatives that go well beyond the long-term and specific scenarios that are the focus of so-called “counterfactual history”. (shrink)
The chapter begins with an initial survey of ups and downs of contextualist history of philosophy during the twentieth century in Britain and America, which finds that historically serious history of philosophy has been on the rise. It then considers ways in which the study of past philosophy has been used and is used in philosophy, and makes a case for the philosophical value and necessity of a contextually oriented approach. It examines some uses of past texts and (...) of history that reveal limits to noncontextual history, including Strawson's Kant, Rorty's grand diagnosis of the Western tradition, and Friedman on Kant's philosophy of mathematics. It then considers ways in which the history of philosophy may become philosophically deeper by becoming more historical, and instances in which history of philosophy of various stripes has or may deliver a philosophical payoff. Along the way, it urges historians of philosophy to attend not only to individual philosophers and their problems and projects, but also to the larger shape of the history of philosophy and its narrative themes. (shrink)
_ Source: _Volume 10, Issue 2, pp 211 - 234 This article has three main interconnected aims. First, I illustrate the historiographical conceptions of three early analytic philosophers: Frege, Russell and Wittgenstein. Second, I consider some of the historiographical debates that have been generated by the recent historical turn in analytic philosophy, looking at the work of Scott Soames and Hans-Johann Glock, in particular. Third, I discuss Arthur Danto’s _Analytic Philosophy of History_, published 50 years ago, and argue for a (...) reinvigorated analytic philosophy of history. (shrink)
‘Type’ in biology is a polysemous term. In a landmark article, Paul Farber (Journal of the History of Biology 9(1): 93–119, 1976) argued that this deceptively plain term had acquired three different meanings in early nineteenth century natural history alone. ‘Type’ was used in relation to three distinct type concepts, each of them associated with a different set of practices. Important as Farber’s analysis has been for the historiography of natural history, his account conceals an important dimension (...) of early nineteenth century ‘type talk.’ Farber’s taxonomy of type concepts passes over the fact that certain uses of ‘type’ began to take on a new meaning in this period. At the closing of the eighteenth century, terms like ‘type specimen,’ ‘type species,’ and ‘type genus’ were universally recognized as referring to typical, model members of their encompassing taxa. But in the course of the nineteenth century, the same terms were co-opted for a different purpose. As part of an effort to drive out nomenclatural synonymy – the confusing state of a taxon being known to different people by different names – these terms started to signify the fixed and potentially atypical name-bearing elements of taxa. A new type concept was born: the nomenclatural type. In this article, I retrace this perplexing nineteenth century shift in meaning of ‘type.’ I uncover the nomenclatural disorder that the new nomenclatural type concept dissolved, and expose the conceptual confusion it left in its tracks. What emerges is an account of how synonymy was suppressed through the coinage of a homonym. (shrink)
Although history is the pre-eminent part of the gallant sciences, philosophers advise against it from fear that it might completely destroy the kingdom of darkness—that is, scholastic philosophy—which previously has been wrongly held to be a necessary instrument of theology.
I examine the consistency of Kant's notion of moral progress as found in his philosophy of history. To many commentators, Kant's very idea of moral development has seemed inconsistent with basic tenets of his critical philosophy. This idea has seemed incompatible with his claims that the moral law is unconditionally and universally valid, that moral agency is noumenal and atemporal, and that all humans are equally free. Against these charges, I argue not only that Kant's notion of moral development (...) is consistent, but also that the assumption of the possibility of moral progress is indispensible for Kant's moral theory. (shrink)
Despite the centrality of the idea of history to Dewey's overall philosophical outlook, his brief treatment of philosophical issues in history has never attracted much attention, partly because of the dearth of the available material. Nonetheless, as argued in this essay, what we do have provides for the outlines of a comprehensive pragmatist view of history distinguished by an emphasis on methodological pluralism and a principled opposition to thinking of historical knowledge in correspondence terms. The key conceptions (...) of Dewey's philosophy of history outlined in this paper -- i.e. historical constitution of human nature, constructivist ontology of historical events, as well as the belief that the proper form of historical judgments is underwritten by the category of continual change -- are discussed with a view to the current challenges in philosophy of history, e.g. the contest between naturalism and rationalism, objectivity and relativism, questions surrounding the function of narrative in history, and the relationship of history to the problems of identity and self-knowledge. The intended upshot of the essay is to suggest that Dewey's brief yet substantial analysis may be capable of supplying the guiding principles for articulating a viable and promising pragmatist (and naturalist) conception of historical knowledge. (shrink)
The history of emotions is a burgeoning field—so much so, that some are invoking an “emotional turn.” As a way of charting this development, I have interviewed three of the leading practitioners of the history of emotions: William Reddy, Barbara Rosenwein, and Peter Stearns. The interviews retrace each historian’s intellectual-biographical path to the history of emotions, recapitulate key concepts, and critically discuss the limitations of the available analytical tools. In doing so, they touch on Reddy’s concepts of (...) “emotive,” “emotional regime,” and “emotional navigation,” as well as on Rosenwein’s “emotional community” and on Stearns’s “emotionology” and offer glimpses of each historian’s ongoing research. The interviews address the challenges presented to historians by research in the neurosciences and the like, highlighting the distinctive contributions offered by a historical approach. In closing, the interviewees appear to reach a consensus, envisioning the history of emotions not as a specialized field but as a means of integrating the category of emotion into social, cultural, and political history, emulating the rise of gender as an analytical category since its early beginnings as “women’s history” in the 1970s. (shrink)
William Whewell raised a series of objections concerning John Stuart Mill’s philosophy of science which suggested that Mill’s views were not properly informed by the history of science or by adequate reflection on scientific practices. The aim of this paper is to revisit and evaluate this incisive Whewellian criticism of Mill’s views by assessing Mill’s account of Michael Faraday’s discovery of electrical induction. The historical evidence demonstrates that Mill’s reconstruction is an inadequate reconstruction of this historical episode and the (...) scientific practices Faraday employed. But a study of Faraday’s research also raises some questions about Whewell’s characterization of this discovery. Thus, this example provides an opportunity to reconsider the debate between Whewell and Mill concerning the role of the sciences in the development of an adequate philosophy of scientific methodology.Keywords: Inductivism; Experiment; Theory; Methodology; Electromagnetism. (shrink)
Analytic philosophers are often said to be indifferent or even hostile to the history of philosophy – that is, not to the idea of history of philosophy as such, but regarded as a species of the genus philosophy rather than the genus history. Here it is argued that such an attitude is actually inconsistent with approaches within the philosophies of mind that are typical within analytic philosophy. It is suggested that the common “argument rather than pedigree” claim (...) – that is, that claim that philosophical ideas should be evaluated only in the context of the reasons for or against them, and not in terms of historical conditions that brought them about – presupposes an early modern “egological” conception of the mind as normatively autonomous, and that such a view is in contradiction with the deeply held naturalistic predispositions of most contemporary philosophers of mind. Using the example of Wilfrid Sellars, who attempted to combine “naturalist” and “normative” considerations in his philosophy of mind, it is argued that only by treating the mind as having an artifactual dimension can these opposing considerations be accommodated. And, if the mind is at least partly understood as artifactual, then, to that extent, like all artifacts, it is to be understood via a narrative about the particular human activities in which those artifacts are produced and in which they function. (shrink)
_ Source: _Volume 10, Issue 3, pp 433 - 440 Historical explanations are a form of counterfactual history. To offer an explanation of what happened, historians have to identify causes, and whenever they identify causes, they immediately conjure up a counterfactual history, a parallel world. No one doubts that there is a great deal of distance between science fiction novelists and the world’s great historians, but along an important dimension, they are playing the same game.
Despite the fact that the history of eugenics in Canada is necessarily part of the larger history of eugenics, there is a special role for oral history to play in the telling of this story, a role that promises to shift us from the muddled middle of the story. Not only has the testimony of eugenics survivors already played perhaps the most important role in revealing much about the practice of eugenics in Canada, but the willingness and (...) ability of survivors to share their own oral histories makes the situation in western Canada almost unique. Conversely, I also discuss the role that oral history plays in “surviving a eugenic past”, trading on the ambiguity of this phrase to reflect both on the survivorship of those who have been viewed as subhuman via some kind of eugenic lens and on the collective legacy with which Canada’s eugenic past presents us. (shrink)
Investigators of animal behavior since the eighteenth century have sought to make their work integral to the enterprises of natural history and/or the life sciences. In their efforts to do so, they have frequently based their claims of authority on the advantages offered by the special places where they have conducted their research. The zoo, the laboratory, and the field have been major settings for animal behavior studies. The issue of the relative advantages of these different sites has been (...) a persistent one in the history of animal behavior studies up to and including the work of the ethologists of the twentieth century. (shrink)
Anthropology, History, and Education contains all of Kant's major writings on human nature. Some of these works, which were published over a thirty-nine year period between 1764 and 1803, have never before been translated into English. Kant's question 'What is the human being?' is approached indirectly in his famous works on metaphysics, epistemology, moral and legal philosophy, aesthetics and the philosophy of religion, but it is approached directly in his extensive but less well-known writings on physical and cultural anthropology, (...) the philosophy of history, and education which are gathered in the present volume. Kant repeatedly claimed that the question 'What is the human being?' should be philosophy's most fundamental concern, and Anthropology, History, and Education can be seen as effectively presenting his philosophy as a whole in a popular guise. (shrink)
Debates concerning the character, scope, and warrant of abductive inference have been active since Peirce first proposed that there was a third form of inference, distinct from induction and deduction. Abductive reasoning has been dubbed weak, incoherent, and even nonexistent. Part, at least, of the problem of articulating a clear sense of abductive inference is due to difficulty in interpreting Peirce. Part of the fault must lie with his critics, however. While this article will argue that Peirce indeed left a (...) number of puzzles for interpreters, it will also contend that interpreters should be careful to distinguish discussion of the formal and strictly epistemic question of whether and how abduction is a sound form of inference from discussions of the practical goals of abduction, as Peirce understood them. This article will trace a history of critics and defenders of Peirce’s notion of abduction and discuss how Peirce both fueled the confusion and in fact anticipated and responded to several recurring objections. (shrink)
Quentin Skinner’s appropriation of speech act theory for intellectual history has been extremely influential. Even as the model continues to be important for historians, however, philosophers now regard the original speech act theory paradigm as dated. Are there more recent initiatives that might reignite theoretical work in this area? This article argues that the inferentialism of Robert Brandom is one of the most interesting contemporary philosophical projects with historical implications. It shows how Brandom’s work emerged out of the broad (...) shift in the philosophy of language from semantics to pragmatics that also informed speech act theory. The article then goes on to unpack the rich implications of Brandom’s inferentialism for the theory and practice of intellectual history. It contends that inferentialism clarifies, legitimizes, and informs intellectual historical practice, and it concludes with a consideration of the challenges faced by inferentialist intellectual history, together with an argument for the broader implications of Brandom’s work. (shrink)
Throughout the twentieth century calls to modernize natural history motivated a range of responses. It was unclear how research in natural history museums would participate in the significant technological and conceptual changes that were occurring in the life sciences. By the 1960s, the Museum of Vertebrate Zoology at the University of California, Berkeley, was among the few university-based natural history museums that were able to maintain their specimen collections and support active research. The MVZ therefore provides a (...) window to the modernization of natural history. This paper concentrates on the directorial transitions that occurred at the MVZ between 1965 and 1971. During this period, the MVZ had four directors: Alden H. Miller (Director 1940–1965), an ornithologist; Aldo Starker Leopold (Acting Director 1965–1966), a conservationist and wildlife biologist; Oliver P. Pearson (Director 1966–1971), a physiologist and mammalogist; and David B. Wake (Director 1971–1998), a morphologist, developmental biologist, and herpetologist. The paper explores how a diversity of overlapping modernization strategies, including hiring new faculty, building infrastructure to study live animals, establishing new kinds of collections, and building modern laboratories combined to maintain collections at the MVZ’s core. The paper examines the tensions between the different modernization strategies to inform an analysis of how and why some changes were institutionalized while others were short-lived. By exploring the modernization of collections-based research, this paper emphasizes the importance of collections in the transformation of the life sciences. (shrink)
The aim of this paper is to argue that Kant's philosophy of biology has crucial implications for our understanding of his philosophy of history, and that overlooking these implications leads to a fundamental misconstruction of his views. More precisely, I will show that Kant's philosophy of history is modelled on his philosophy of biology due to the fact that the development of the human species shares a number of peculiar features with the functioning of organisms, these features entailing (...) important methodological characteristics. From this main claim will follow three further claims: (1) Kant's teleological view of history is not simply based on ethical considerations that have to do with the moral progress of the human species; rather, it stems from his conception of teleology as developed in his philosophy of biology. (2) Kant's philosophy of history allows for the practice of scientific history. In this sense, Kant's view of history is not merely teleological but involves a mechanical (and thus empirical) element. (3) Just as teleology is useful for furthering mechanical accounts of biological phenomena, teleological history is useful for scientific history. (shrink)
_ Source: _Page Count 25 I explore the role of practical necessity in Kant’s essay _Idea for a Universal History with a Cosmopolitan Aim_. This form of necessity arises on the basis of social and interstate antagonism and Kant appeals to it with the aim of avoiding the introduction of a standpoint that is external to the agents whose attitudes and actions are being described. In connection with the role that Kant accords to practical necessity in the establishment of (...) the legal and political conditions required to fulfil the ‘plan of nature’ in the course of history, I argue that in this essay he fails to identify a mechanism that would explain a fundamental moral change in that which motivates human beings once these conditions have been established. This in turn invites questions concerning the kind of universal history that Kant proposes. In particular, I argue that the choice of historical material that it demands could, in certain circumstances, be regarded as counterpurposive in relation to the aim of nature of which Kant speaks in the same essay. (shrink)
C. J. Temminck, director of the Rijksmuseum van Natuurlijke Historie (now the National Museum of Natural History in Leiden) and a renowned ornithologist, gained his contemporary's respect thanks to the description of many new species and to his detailed monographs on birds. He also published a small number of works on biogeography describing the fauna of the Dutch colonies in South East Asia and Japan. These works are remarkable for two reasons. First, in them Temminck accurately described the species (...) composition of poorly explored regions, like the Sunda Islands and Japan. Secondly, he formulated a new law on the geographical distribution of animals around the globe, based on the parallels he observed between the fauna from Europe, Asia and Japan. The underlying ideas that lead Temminck to this law were the typeconcept, which he understood as the ideal morphological plan behind animal form, the unchanging character of the species and a strong belief in nature's divine design. During the first half of the nineteenth century, the type-and the species-concept, the origin and fixity of the species and the meaning of variations aroused heated discussions. When put in the context of his time, Temminck emerges as a scientist whose work was driven by the dominating scientific philosophy of the time in which he lived, under the influence of late eighteenth century natural history and of French empiricists, in particular, the great zoologist and paleontologist Georges Cuvier. Temminck's detailed descriptions of the Dutch East Indian fauna helped the great naturalists after him to understand nature's patterns and to propose comprehensive theories that explain its diversity. (shrink)
_ Source: _Page Count 24 This article has three main interconnected aims. First, I illustrate the historiographical conceptions of three early analytic philosophers: Frege, Russell and Wittgenstein. Second, I consider some of the historiographical debates that have been generated by the recent historical turn in analytic philosophy, looking at the work of Scott Soames and Hans-Johann Glock, in particular. Third, I discuss Arthur Danto’s _Analytic Philosophy of History_, published 50 years ago, and argue for a reinvigorated analytic philosophy of (...) class='Hi'>history. (shrink)
_ Source: _Volume 10, Issue 2, pp 279 - 303 Every political philosopher has a philosophy of political history, if sometimes not a very good one. Oakeshott and Collingwood are two twentieth century political philosophers who were particularly concerned with the significance of history for political philosophy; and who both, in the 1940s, sketched what I call philosophies of political history: that is, systematic schemes which could make sense of the entire history of political philosophy. In (...) this article I observe that Oakeshott depended for the political threefold sketched in his Introduction to Hobbes’s _Leviathan_ on a threefold Collingwood had developed in relation to science in _The Idea of Nature_. This is, I think, a novel observation. I contrast this political threefold with Collingwood’s own political threefold in _The New Leviathan_. I then consider the neglect of these schemes, along with the rare attempts to defend such philosophies of history in the writings of Greenleaf and Boucher. My own claim is that these philosophies of political history are exemplary: and that the threefold is, for obvious Hegelian reasons, a still useful form for this sort of reflection. Political philosophy is likely to improve the more it takes the philosophy of political history seriously. (shrink)
This article offers a defense of the theoretical foundations of Conceptual History. While Conceptual History has successfully established itself as an historical discipline, details in the philosophy of language that underpin Conceptual History continue to be opaque. Specifically the definition of what constitutes a “basic concept” remains problematic. Reinhart Koselleck famously claimed that basic concepts are “more than words,” but he never spelled out how these abstract entities relate to words or can be subject to semantic transformation. (...) I argue that to clarify the definition of what constitutes a basic concept we should turn to the functionalist and inferentialist philosophy of Wilfrid Sellars. By viewing historical sources as partaking in what Sellars calls the ‘game of giving and asking for reasons,’ Conceptual History can accurately trace the semantic changes of basic concepts and thus offer an important tool to the historical discipline. (shrink)
_ Source: _Volume 10, Issue 1, pp 51 - 75 History occupies a somewhat awkward position in the work of Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari. Although they often criticise history as a practice and advance alternatives that are explicitly anti-historical, such as ‘nomadology’ and ‘geophilosophy’, their scholarship is nevertheless littered with historical encounters and deeply influenced by historians such as Fernand Braudel. One of Deleuze and Guattari’s more significant engagements with history occurs through their reading and theory (...) of universal history. In this paper I will explicate and critically analyse the nature of this universal history vis-à-vis its most pertinent counterpoint: Hegel’s philosophy of world history. In contrast to Hegel’s form of historicism, which universalizes by virtue of a unitary and totalizing force, Deleuze and Guattari develop a universalizing mechanism that is strictly devoid of any privileged essence. Following, Deleuze and Guattari’s form of universal history is marked above all by contingency as opposed to necessity. In this paper I will show precisely how. I will also go on to demonstrate how Deleuze and Guattari’s universal history offers the promise of an historical ontology commensurate with the processes of creativity and becoming, provided that appropriate steps are taken to reaffirm the radical contingency at its heart. (shrink)
The prediction defended in this paper is that over the next fifty years we will see a return of the ancient tradition of “universal history”; but this will be a new form of universal history that is global in its practice and scientific in its spirit and methods. Until the end of the nineteenth century, universal history of some kind seems to have been present in most historiographical traditions. Then it vanished as historians became disillusioned with the (...) search for grand historical narratives and began to focus instead on getting the details right through document-based research. Today, however, there are many signs of a return to universal history. This has been made possible, at least in part, by the detailed empirical research undertaken in the last century in many different fields, and also by the creation of new methods of absolute dating that do not rely on the presence of written documents. The last part of the paper explores some of the possible consequences for historical scholarship of a return to a new, scientific form of universal history. These may include a closer integration of historical scholarship with the more historically oriented of the sciences, including cosmology, geology, and biology. Finally, the paper raises the possibility that universal history may eventually be taught in high schools, where it will provide a powerful new way of integrating knowledge from the humanities and the sciences. (shrink)
Counterfactualism is a useful process for historians as a thought-experiment because it offers grounds to challenge an unfortunate contemporary historical mindset of assumed, deterministic certainty. This article suggests that the methodological value of counterfactualism may be understood in terms of the three categories of common ahistorical errors that it may help to prevent: the assumptions of indispensability, causality, and inevitability. To support this claim, I survey a series of key counterfactual works and reflections on counterfactualism, arguing that the practice of (...) counterfactualism evolved as both cause and product of an evolving popular assumption of the plasticity of history and the importance of human agency within it. For these reasons, counterfactualism is of particular importance both historically and politically. I conclude that it is time for a methodological re-assessment of the uses of such thought-experiments in history, particularly in light of counterfactualism's developmental relatedness to cultural, technological, and analytical modernity. (shrink)
In the advertising discourse of human genetic database projects, of genetic ancestry tracing companies, and in popular books on anthropological genetics, what I refer to as the anthropological gene and genome appear as documents of human history, by far surpassing the written record and oral history in scope and accuracy as archives of our past. How did macromolecules become "documents of human evolutionary history"? Historically, molecular anthropology, a term introduced by Emile Zuckerkandl in 1962 to characterize the (...) study of primate phylogeny and human evolution on the molecular level, asserted its claim to the privilege of interpretation regarding hominoid, hominid, and human phylogeny and evolution vis-à-vis other historical sciences such as evolutionary biology, physical anthropology, and paleoanthropology. This process will be discussed on the basis of three key conferences on primate classification and evolution that brought together exponents of the respective fields and that were held in approximately ten-years intervals between the early 1960s and the 1980s. I show how the anthropological gene and genome gained their status as the most fundamental, clean, and direct records of historical information, and how the prioritizing of these epistemic objects was part of a complex involving the objectivity of numbers, logic, and mathematics, the objectivity of machines and instruments, and the objectivity seen to reside in the epistemic objects themselves. (shrink)
In this essay I trace the role of history in the philosophy of art from the early twentieth century to the present, beginning with the rejection of history by formalists like Clive Bell. I then attempt to show how the arguments of people like Morris Weitz and Arthur Danto led to a re-appreciation of history by philosophers of art such as Richard Wollheim, Jerrold Levinson, Robert Stecker and others.
The general popularity of natural history in the eighteenth century is mirrored in the frequency and importance of the more than 4,500 articles on natural history in the "Encyclopédie". The main contributors to natural history were Daubenton, Diderot, Jaucourt and d'Holbach, but some of the key animating principles derive from Buffon, who wrote nothing specifically for the "Encyclopédie". Still, a number of articles reflect his thinking, especially his antipathy toward Linnaeus. There was in principle a natural tie (...) between encyclopedism, with its emphasis on connected knowledge, and the task of natural historians who concentrated on the relationships among living forms. Both the encyclopedists and natural historians aimed at a sweeping overview of knowledge, and we see that Diderot's discussions of the encyclopedia were apparently informed by his reading of natural history. Most of the articles on natural history drew from traditional sources, but there are differences in emphasis and choice of subject, depending upon the author. Diderot's 300 contributions are often practical, interesting, and depend upon accounts from other parts of the world. Jaucourt, who wrote more articles on natural history than anyone else, followed in his footsteps. Daubenton's 900 articles reflected a more narrow, professional approach. His contributions concluded for the most part with Volume 8, and Jaucourt carried on almost single-handedly after that. While staking out traditional ground (description, taxonomy) and advancing newer theoretical views linked with Buffon, natural history in the "Encyclopédie" avoided almost completely the sentimentalism concerning nature that developed after Rousseau. (shrink)
ABSTRACTThis article argues that, although psychoanalysis and history have different conceptions of time and causality, there can be a productive relationship between them. Psychoanalysis can force historians to question their certainty about facts, narrative, and cause; it introduces disturbing notions about unconscious motivation and the effects of fantasy on the making of history. This was not the case with the movement for psychohistory that began in the 1970s. Then the influence of American ego‐psychology on history‐writing promoted the (...) idea of compatibility between the two disciplines in ways that undercut the critical possibilities of their interaction. The work of the French historian Michel de Certeau provides theoretical insight into the uses of incommensurability, while that of Lyndal Roper demonstrates both its limits and its value for enriching historical understanding. (shrink)
What are the relationships between philosophy and the history of philosophy, the history of science and the philosophy of science? This selection of essays by Lorenz Krüger (1932-1994) presents exemplary studies on the philosophy of John Locke and Immanuel Kant, on the history of physics and on the scope and limitations of scientific explanation, and a realistic understanding of science and truth. In his treatment of leading currents in 20th century philosophy, Krüger presents new and original arguments (...) for a deeper understanding of the continuity and dynamics of the development of scientific theory. These result in significant consequences for the claim of the sciences that they understand reality in a rational manner. The case studies are complemented by fundamental thoughts on the relationship between philosophy, science, and their common history. (shrink)
The post-Civil War American natural history craze spawned a new institution -- the natural history dealer -- that has failed to receive the historical attention it deserves. The individuals who created these enterprises simultaneously helped to promote and hoped to profit from the burgeoning interest in both scientific and popular specimen collecting. At a time when other employment and educational prospects in natural history were severely limited, hundreds of dealers across the nation provided encouragement, specimens, publication outlets, (...) training opportunities, and jobs for naturalists of all motivations and levels of expertise. This paper explores the crucial role that specimen dealers played in the larger natural history community. After briefly examining the development of local taxidermy shops in the mid-nineteenth century, it then traces the history of four large natural history dealerships established in the United States during the latter half of the century: Ward's Natural History Establishment, Frank Blake Webster's Naturalists' Supply Depot, Southwick & Jencks' Natural History Store, and Frank H. Lattin & Co. By the early twentieth century, changing tastes in interior design, the growth of the Audubon movement, and the dramatic expansion of alternate training and job opportunities for naturalists led many specimen dealers either to shift their emphasis or to shut their doors. (shrink)
Contrary to most modern interpretations, in the early modern period, history was an indispensable resource for many philosophers. The different uses of history by Bacon, Gassendi, Locke, and Hume are explored to establish the role of history as a resource in early-modern philosophy.
In this paper I argue that, in at least two cases - his discussions of the temporal precedence o f polytheism over monotheism and of the origins of civil society - we see Hume consigning to historical development certain aspects of reason which, as a comparison with Locke will show, have sometimes been held to be uniform. In the first of these cases Hume has recourse to claims about the general historical development of human thought. In the second case, the (...) origin of the civil institution of justice and government is not linked directly to external circumstances and the principles of human nature, as it is in contractarian theories, but makes a detour through the historical acquisition of certain concepts. Because Hume's position does not conform in any simple sense to Dugald Stewart's 'incontrovertible logical maxim' that the capacities of the human mind have been the same in all ages, Stewart's account of the method of conjectural history is, in any simple sense, inadequate as a description of Hume's practice. (shrink)
_ Source: _Volume 10, Issue 2, pp 249 - 278 GER Lloyd discerns two conflicting hypotheses concerning human cognition: cross-cultural universality and cultural relativity. The history of science is one discipline among many actively contributing to our understanding of human cognition at present. Not surprisingly, then, the dichotomy is also present in the history of science. In contrast to current approaches to the history of science, which highlight cultural relativity, genetic epistemology, which is conceived by Jean Piaget (...) as a science of the acquisition of knowledge, emphasises cross-cultural universality. Using the multidimensionality of phenomena and different styles of inquiry, I will argue that there is no inherent contradiction in the different approaches to the history of science. However, the amicable co-existence of both approaches has been undermined by Peter Damerow, who criticised the applicability of genetic epistemology to the historical development of knowledge on historical and theoretical grounds. In this paper, I will review Damerow’s theoretical critique, and, in formulating a response, I will argue that genetic epistemology cannot be dismissed as one of many legitimate styles of inquiry into the history of science on the basis of this critique. (shrink)