Category: Theory of History Polyphonic


Practical Wisdom. Or What Can and Should Philosophy of History Achieve?

Chiel van den Akker – There is much that philosophy of history can achieve. The books, articles, companions, lectures, and blog posts on the philosophy of history testify to that. Here I confine myself to discussing but one example – not a recent one – of what philosophy of history can and should achieve.


Why is there no “Progress” in Philosophy of History?

Frank Ankersmit – Let me begin this blog post with a little anecdote. In 1994 Hans Kellner and I conceived of the plan to publish a collection of essays on the state of philosophy of history at that time. We dressed up a list of philosophers of history we might invite to contribute to the collection. We asked these potential contributors whether they would be willing to write an essay on existing philosophy of history from their own point of view and, next, what expectations they had for its future development. We hoped, of course, that the then most influential philosophers would graciously accept our invitation. So Arthur Danto was at the top of our list: after all, what book has been more influential than Arthur Danto’s Analytical Philosophy of History of 1965 – with the possible exception of Hayden White’s notorious Metahistory of 1973?

Outlines of a critical theory of history

Christophe Bouton – Philosophical research on history as it is developing today in France does not pursue the ambition that characterized the philosophies of history of Hegel or Auguste Comte, namely delivering the sense and finality of “the history of humanity”. This way of thinking about history continued to recede throughout the twentieth century, and has been criticized by both philosophers (such as François Lyotard, who pointed to the end of “great narratives”) and historians (for example Paul Veyne and Roger Chartier). Like many others I prefer the expression “theory of history”, in order to establish distance from the tradition of teleological philosophies of history. What positive content can be attributed to it?
Article en Français Post in English


Theory of history as a reflexive endeavor. Tracing the “beginning”

Marcus Wystub – An unfinished workpiece; it is being face-milled; the machining process begins. Further machining of the unfinished workpiece would be impossible without a plan surface. Finally, it needs a measuring reference. A beginning has been made here in the working. What would a ‘beginning’ in historical-theoretical activity look like? Where does working on theory of history begin?
Beitrag in Deutsch Post in English


Theorizing History or How to Rethink Theory of History through Questions

Lisa Regazzoni – In his artwork Collage ou lʼâge de la colle (Collage or the Age of Paste), Man Ray confronts us with the question of when historical ages and thus caesurae are marked and along what criteria. What if paste were to be raised to a category of historical time structuring analogous to the stone, iron or bronze age? After all, its technical relevance is immense, and not only for members of the avant-garde in the arts. Is Man Ray doing “Theory of history” in his artwork?
Beitrag in Deutsch Post in English


“There are no truths outside the Gates of Eden” (Bob Dylan)

Jörg van Norden – Theory of history is one of four pillars in history didactics. History didactics considers the educational value of history and before giving an estimate must first clarify what history really is. Theory of history explains what history is. The question of theories in history should be subordinate to the question of what history is.
Beitrag in Deutsch Post in English


Historical Theory(ies) and Critical Whiteness Studies

Bärbel Völkel – This paper explores the argument that whiteness is inscribed as an invisible hegemonic norm in European theories of history, particularly in historicism as the still contextually relevant theoretical basis of nation-state history, and that this norm continues to the detriment of people of color to this day.
Beitrag in Deutsch Post in English


Between identity, power and truth: The use of theory in the science of history

Uwe Walter – In the system of handling history academically, theory is clearly (also) a matter of distinction. This holds true whether theory is used or not: For many ancient historians who work closely with the material or indeed even render it accessible, for Monumenta medievalists or historians of diplomacy and editors who immerse themselves in the files, rejecting “theoretical flights of fancy”, conceptual apriorism or the subordination of sources to an “add-on” theory or even one that is extraneous to the discipline is all part of a professional self-understanding and in this sense has a community-building effect.
Beitrag in Deutsch Post in English


The theory of history and the “fourth revolution”

Edoardo Tortarolo – For a long time, the theory of history has had a bad reputation. Among practising historians engaged in the analysis of a specific issue, the conviction has long prevailed that through systematic recourse to a set of sources it was possible to narrate a past event in full and, in so doing, to present readers with an implicit or explicit analysis of an aspect of human life from the past. This strongly empirical and therefore anti-theoretical view resulted in considerable efforts throughout the twentieth century to understand the genesis of relevant realities of human life. It must be acknowledged that it also led to blatant distortions, whether intentional or unintentional, based on the ideological manipulation of sources.
Contributo in italiano Post in English

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