Everywhere I look, I find conflicting reports of what historicism actually is. Some say it present in Marx's works, some say Marx himself denounced it. Some, like Gramsci and Lukacs, champion it, whereas some, like Althusser, Popper and Strauss, denounce it. Yet it seems like most, if not all, of them operate by different definitions of historicism.
Can anyone please tell me what does historicism actually mean and what are the potential misuses of the word 'historicism'?
Thank you for reading!
Good morning, this post will be the first of a series of posts in which I will be criticizing chapter by chapter Karl Poppers book “the misery of historicism”, and try to prove how his critique, which has informed the later critiques of historical materialism of other people, its disingenuous, and shouldn’t be taken seriously. This first text will have as an objective to provide some context for the publication of the book, and some definitions as the author doesn’t want to provide them at any point.
Some context about myself, so I be upfront about my motivations, I am a Marxist, and before writing this I read only the 20 first pages of the book. As I will try to justify in this and other posts, that is more than enough to call it bs. The tittle and the first sentence its enough to call it bs. I read it as a lot of critiques are thrown against historical materialism, but none of them appeared to hold water when I saw them formulated, so I decided to read a book long critique of it, from one of the most important liberal philosophers of the last century no less, so I expected a good critique. Boy was I wrong. The copy I have of the book its a Spanish version of it, this is because I couldn’t find a free English version, and because Spanish its my mother tongue. Fragments of the book will be traduced by google, and edited by me in the parts where it lose its original meaning. The fact that English isn't my mother tongue may result in weird grammar, or some orthography mistakes, I beg you to ignore the form of the text, and focus on its meat.
In the first sentence of the book the biggest problem of the book its made self evident
>In memory of the countless men and women of all creeds, nations, and races who fell victim to the fascist and communist belief in the Inexorable Laws of Historic Destiny
I have read “The coming of the third Reich” by Richard Evans (which obviously, deals with the historical antecedents of Nazism), “A betrayed people” by Paul Preston (which studies contemporary history of Spain, including Spanish fascism), “Ur-Fascism” by Umberto Eco, “The doctrine of fascism” by Mussolini and Gentile, “Fascism, what it is and how to fight it” by Trotsky. As this paragraph suggest, I am well read on fascism, from almost every point of view, be it Marxist, center left, fascist, and h... keep reading on reddit ➡
So I got an illumination I don't know if you'll like it but I wanted to share it:
So you know Napoleon swore in front of History when he became emperor and you know that the phrase "we are in the presence of History" or "we are going to become part of History" and all their variations are used often when doing something important or "History Is on our side" or "we are observing the march of History" etc…
The point Is I as a lover of History and a wannabe historian have in time developed a fascination to history not only as a series of events but also as an undivided concept with constants and laws, particularities and anomalies.
History is a science and the behaviour of social groups in history, of religions and ideas and everything that is human follows its own laws of physics sort of saying, we don't know them in full and similarly to physics don't have really a one hundred percent understanding of them and probably never will but they follow a natural course of their own that can be described.
this has for me, similarly to how some scientists seem to feel with mathematics and physics, almost a kind of spirituality in it, making me feel something that Is almost akin to religious respect for my field of study.
Now I am not the only one in history that has felt like that and many philosophers have in the course of time posed history as a force moving behind mankind and its developments most famous of them all Is Hegel and his "Spirit" of history also Compte that posed as last steps of his humanist rituals, the mourning of a lost one, as the "Entering in History".
Fact Is that the constant strife of man and the record of its adventures and misadventures alike has since it's invention been his first and greatest mythology giving reason of existence to all other myths and remain so to this day.
That said what I'm telling you is: Historicism, a heresy of Novelism that happens when the great libraries of the Sorbonne or other universities are found again and reinterpreted more akin to Nobelianism in its nature as a religion of scientific humanism and maybe even influenced by it but maintaining Novelism humanistic nature instead of the nobelian scientific one.
The goal of a historianist believer would be to study history, becoming part of its great march of unraveling, it's pen and ink apon the parchment of the world and in the end, becoming part of it.
High Gods: History
Gods: the Human Endevour, Herodotus, Pliny, Gibbon, Bloch, Hegel, the Spirit... keep reading on reddit ➡
I just saw this documentary:
I grew up catholic but am no longer religious. I am very spiritual however and connect with the idea of having the infinite knowledge within us and available when connected to our higher selves.... I now see this historicism translation of the Bible as an interpretation of that knowledge being written into the Bible. I always saw the Bible as a tool to control the masses, but now see a connection as it being interpretations via prophecy of knowledge some highly connected individual had access to and described it the best way they could.
I’d be specifically interested to see if there Is a Jewish version of this ideology.
There is no higher religion than truth.
Have the cultures and values changed enough throughout Tamrielic history that there would be anything to gain from applying New Historicism to the literature within Elder Scrolls? Is there enough of a difference in beliefs, perceptions and themes from writings from the 2nd era compared to the 3rd and 4th eras to make meaningful analyses?
I have a paper on new historicism and postcolonial criticism for my Literary Theory class in college (Croatian language studies). It isn't anything too serious or crucial for my grade, but I like to do my work properly. So far, I have had fun reading about postcolonial criticism and I (more or less) understood it, have been reading Orientalism by Edward Said, Heart of Darkness by Conrad etc., - I know what to write about that.
However, I can't really quite grasp the concept of historicism and new historicism in a simple way. I have to make a 30 minute presentation on both subjects and I find it a bit difficult to simplify what new historicism is, actually translate that knowledge onto my paper and explain it successfully to my class. Some of my reference literature is a bit confusing and references many, many authors which I simply haven't or don't have time to read (Greenblatt is mentioned most often - I think I'll look into him specifically). Additionally, I always have the feeling some of the topics stray directly into history discussions and not literature.
Basically, from what I've gathered so far, historicism and new historicism are two different things, and the latter (which is the one I have to talk about) basically speaks about how books from, say, Renaissance, are a product of their time and the story reflects the political, cultural, scientific, religious and other context of the time? So that something which is written isn't the truth, but just the view that the author had of his/her environment? This also somehow mingles with Marxism? Am I completely wrong? Why is the focus on Renaissance specifically? Can I somehow describe this methodological school through Shakespeare (I like his plays, maybe Othello or Taming of the Shrew could be interesting)?
Thanks for reading and best wishes for 2020!
I'm reading The Open Society and its Enemies and The Poverty of Historicism to try to better understand Popper's philosophy, but I have a possibly naive question that I'd like to throw out while I do.
Did Popper argue that no intrinsic laws of historical or societal development do or could exist, or that it would be as a matter of practice very difficult to identify such laws in a predictively useful way? (Or something else entirely?) And how valid do you personally or philosophers in general think his argument is?
This distinction is very important to me, because the second claim is plausible, potentially important and interesting to me, but the first claim seems indefensible, potentially semantic/trivial and boring to me.
As a (very consequential) example, I think one could be an "agriculturalist" in a manner broadly analogous to the Hegelian and Marxist philosophies Popper criticizes. Your (seemingly quite incontrovertibly true) doctrine would be that it is an iron law of historical social developmental, driven nonlinearly but inexorably, outside of individual decisions, etc. etc., that settled agricultural societies eventually displace, absorb, conquer, etc. hunter-gatherer ones. Consequently, one might argue that e.g. the problem with Marx wasn't that he tried to identify a law of historical development, but that he was wrong in the particular ones he believed he had identified.
What would a Popperian critique of such an argument be?
New Historicism is based on a lot of presumptions that are rooted in Marxist ideologies. Wikipedia says this:
> In its historicism and in its political interpretations, new historicism is indebted to Marxism. But whereas Marxism (at least in its more orthodox forms) tends to see literature as part of a 'superstructure' in which the economic 'base' (i.e. material relations of production) manifests itself, new historicist thinkers tend to take a more nuanced view of power, seeing it not exclusively as class-related but extending throughout society. This view derives primarily from Michel Foucault.
They have some key differences but you really can't have new historicism unless you buy into some of the core societal beliefs of Marx. Basically if you do new historicist criticism any you're not a tankie get out.
What does everyone think about Popperian epistemology, and what he has to say about historicism?
I'm wondering if anyone would be willing to provide a critical summary of Benjamin's writings on history, particularly as it relates to concepts of messianism.
I've read 'Art in the Age of...' a while ago, and I'll probably review it here again soon. But I'm wondering if his philosophical work on history might be of some use on a rather large paper I'm looking to prepare.
"sUdDeNlY oN aUgUsT 23, -4 BC, JeHoVah hAd aN iDeA he NEVER EVER HAD BEFORE"
This series of articles by Tonstad at Spectrum are in correlation with the Quarterly; however, I think this is an interesting enough discussion that it needs its own thread.
Tonstad is not recognized as one of the foremost Revelation scholars in Adventism, but he is one of the best minds in Adventism today. Incidentally he wrote his PhD dissertation on Revelation; not surprisingly he has much to say about it.
Most interesting to me is that he suggests a contradiction between two parts of Adventist theology: our understanding of the Great Controversy (what he terms the "cosmic conflict") and our historicist reading of Revelation. He suggests that the latter tends to ignore significant thematic aspects of Revelation and depict a God who metes out punishment against the wicked, rather than one who reveals his love. Well worth the read.
This is interesting to me because for a while now I've been far more interested in the thematic resonances of Revelation. As I've said before (and Tonstad iterates), historicism tends to reduce sweeping cosmic drama to trivia. Instead of seeing in Revelation a conflict between powers at work in the world--illustrated through their competing approaches and objectives--historicism sees competing institutions, communities, and tribes. Can such a theology still be for "every nation, kindred, tongue and people"? More to the point for Adventists, can it be for Catholics?
I deeply appreciate Tonstad's work and I think he offers astounding resources for thinking through Adventism in the 21st century. But this isn't about him. This is about rediscovering the power and beauty of the Revelation of Jesus Christ in a world where names correspond not to divergent ways of life, but to battle cries for opposing factions seeking dominance in the midst of cultural collapse.
What does Revelation hold for you?
The full dictionary paragraph:
In the sympathetic but exacting work, Althusser: The Detour of Theory (1987), for many the definitive account of Althusser and Althusserianism, Gregory Elliott argues that Althusser’s philosophical position is best defined in terms of what he was against: he was anti-Hegel, anti-historicism, and anti-humanism. He rejected the young Marx, who was an avid reader of Hegel and consequently still a humanist and a historicist, in favour of the mature Marx, who claimed to have stood Hegel back on his feet. The mature Marx was in Althusser’s view the founder of a science, namely historical materialism, with all the attendant connotations of objective rigour that term implies. Marx, he argued, had established a science of the general laws of the development of society, but for that very reason his work remained incomplete and it was the task of contemporary Marxism to continue his project. In political terms, Althusser’s reasoning was that if society could be understood scientifically (in the same way humans understand the natural world), then that would enable a program of change to be implemented. History, for Althusser, is a process without a subject. He maintained that it is the masses who make history (not individuals) and that class struggle is the motor of history.
I'm interested in historicist views on human identity, how they are reproduced socially etc. I was told that Foucault's History of Sexuality is a good place to start with this, is that true? For background's sake, I'm moderately familiar with classical Marxism and early modern philosophy but haven't touched any continental, particularly french theory at all.
I checked out this thread about New Historicism and Cultural Materialism, and during my undergrad I remember my Shakespeare course assigned secondary readings that were mostly written by Stephen Greenblatt, but I can't quite articulate what the thing is and why it's contentious. I'll try to describe what I feel like I understand it to be so far, and hopefully some kind soul can steer me in the right direction and answer a few follow up questions/recommend further reading.
New Historicists seem to be saying that a text exists suspended in the moment it was published. My Shakespeare professor told me that calling The Taming of the Shrew sexist is an act of violence, so I suppose that the New Historicists are generally opposed to understanding a text through theoretical lenses that developed after the text's inception. However, that same professor was comfortable with an argument that lauded Shakespeare's representation of women, but was averse to negative criticism. So, I get the sense that New Historicists are against, like, negative value judgments? Is that right?
I'm a little confused about what Greenblatt calls The School of Resentment. Isn't it possible to relate a text to wider sociopolitical movements while still recognizing its aesthetic value/influence? I don't understand how condemning an author's attitudes towards marginalized people, or problematic subtexts, is equivalent to discarding a text from study.
Is there a way to reconcile Cultural Materialism and New Historicism? For instance, if I were to acknowledge that an author's context informs their perspective and the text, but also to try to approach the text from a different angle than what would have been available to critics that were contemporary to the author, would I be operating on a sort of middle ground? Or is that just a Cultural Materialist approach?
Please let me know if I'm entirely off the mark. Thanks in advance.
Please Help! I don't know what new historicism is. What is new historicism?