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Volume 2. Volume 3. Volume 4. Volume 5. Volume 6. Volume 8. Volume 9. Volume Copyright by the University of Minnesota. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photo-copying, recording, or otherwise, without the prior written permission of the publisher. Printed in the United States of America. Theory and history of literature ; v.
Bibliography: p. Includes index. Spain Intellectual life 17th century. Civilization, Baroque. M '. Social Tensions and the Consciousness of Crisis 2. The Image of the World and Human Being 7. Fundamental Concepts of the Worldly Structure of Life The Technique of Incompleteness 9. The Social Role of Artifice Once upon a time, it was possible to make an audience chuckle by saying that history is no longer what it used to be.
Everyone understood this amphibological use of the term history, which was called upon to mean both the representation of past events and the actual course of these events; and, whereas it was generally accepted that differing and multiple representations are possible, perhaps even desirable, the actual course of past events could only be singular and have the immutability of a fate accomplished.
Today, the same statement would no longer elicit similar mirth. Not only are we all too aware of the constant manipulation and rewriting of history that is one of the hallmarks of our age, whether for reasons that we may find as abhorrent as Orwell did, or, on the contrary, that we may approve of as in the new histories that no longer omit the fate and the feats of women: but we are also becoming more conscious of the determinant role played by the discourse of the historian upon the representation of history that results from this discourse.
Among historians, the work of Hayden White is preeminently concerned with this problem, while among literary scholars, the poststructuralists have used it to challenge the very possibility of historical cognition. History, as an academic enterprise, is being haunted with something that it thought it had exorcised at its very beginnings. For, as Arnaldo Momigliano reminded us recently, the oldest chairs of history in Europe were created in the sixteenth century when the chairs of letters at the universities of Gottingen and Leiden were split into two different chairs, reflecting and instituting the perceived difference between letters and history.
The discourse of the historian to designate in the abstract singular what has been a plurality of concrete practices has grown more remote from its original ground in letters, and it has done so by concentrating on one aspect of its formal communicational apparatus the referent, or what historians have traditionally called the facts at the expense of the others, and most notably of the addressee, who is the reader.
History used to be read by cultured individuals almost as much, if not more, than fiction. That is the case much less today, though some forms of it, especially biography and so-called narrative history, seem to fare somewhat better. Some historians have come to believe that history must return to this traditional form of narrative to recapture its past audience or, more precisely, to move beyond the narrow readership of specialized historians.
Such a conclusion is overly hasty inasmuch as it grants features exclusively to narrative that the latter shares with other forms of discourse: closure and finality. These features also happen to be the most vulnerable to an epistemological critique of a poststructuralist type, which has no difficulty in pointing out that the well-attested seductiveness of narrative is as operative in historical narratives as it is in fictional ones; but although the latter make no claim to veracity, the former do and thus may well find their claims to truthfulness to be at odds with the requirements of narrative tale-telling.
The dependency of the discourse of the historian upon narrative deserves some consideration in its own right. It may well appear quasi-natural to us that historical discourse should take narrative as its privileged mode, but there is no inherent necessity for it to do so. The frequently invoked lack of distinction between the words for story and history in a number of languages has further served to obfuscate the fact that the link between history and narrative is itself historical, that history developed as a discipline in the shadow of a system of signification that placed special value upon teleological explanations couched in emplotted forms.
Salvational discourse in Christianity is narrative in nature, as is its messianic predecessor in Judaism. In both instances, events in the world result from divine intention or from mostly contrary human willfulness; in any case, however, they are part of a discourse of actions, as Aristotle calls it, or plot. And plot becomes significant if the actions it repertories achieve closure, for only within such a closure does their end become clear.
This dominant Western mode of historical discourse is understood more easily if one contrasts it with the descriptive imperative of, let us say, Ibn Khaldun's reflection upon history, which places greater importance upon a structural rep-. The specificity of the Western mode of historical discourse lies in the fact that it is concerned with the dimension of becoming as manifested in the past that is, with the very movement of history, where the latter is conceived as a force or as a set of forces capable of effecting movement.
Under such a conception, the paramount question is why, whereas in Ibn Khaldun's view it is how. These two questions form the articulatory axes around which revolve the various practices of history at present, but, as the debate about the new narrative history demonstrates, their role is unequal.
The older interrogation into causality may appear less sophisticated in its use of quantitative techniques, for example, but it does have the seductive power of narrative at its disposal and puts itself forward as a form of explanation. It benefits from the still powerful presence in our thought of the Enlightenment model of nature conceived as a system of ends, a model that was the successor to the sacred models of the world that dominated not only the Middle Ages but even early modern times.
In the latter, time was conceived sub specie aeternitatis; thus, the end of human actions their finality was known beforehand, or at least there was in place a hermeneutics that permitted their rational calculation. The Enlightenment changed this conception of time, of course, but it reinscribed the closure of signification into nature. Nowhere is this clearer than in Kant's opuscula on history, in which he argues that the highest of human values, namely freedom, is first realized in a society governed under the best constitution, and that such a society is the means whereby nature itself accomplishes its own goals, fulfills its own ends.
If the goals are known, then we are back within a structural approach of the Ibn Khaldun type, but we lose the sense of historical movement. This is one of the reasons why Kant's conception was critiqued by Hegel. Modern thought is characterized by the fact that humankind no longer thinks of itself as the emanation or creature of a superior being or as a part of an external nature, but rather as a becoming. In his Philosophy of History, Hegel emphatically rejects Rousseau's distinction between a state of nature and a social state, a distinction that presupposes that some form of human essence, pure, absolute, and immediate, is somehow apprehensible, and then that customs and social behaviors somehow graft themselves onto it.
For Hegel, human beings have only historical existence and meaning, and one does not attain some ethereal dimension of the human by stripping away the layers of the historical, that is, by abstracting humankind from its historical heritage; rather, one defines the human by uncovering the law. The why has regained its preeminence. But Hegel's conception of the law of historical constitution presupposes not only the prior acceptance of a law of historical progression, but also that all of humankind be conceived of as a totality and a homogeneous one at that undergoing the very same processes in the course of historical developments.
Since the historian, even a Hegelian one, cannot ignore the empirical fact of difference among human societies, the postulate of homogeneity requires that, in practical terms, differences among human societies be explained as differences of temporality: an early nineteenth-century German Protestant industrialist and his contemporary Indian Hindu peasant farmer may well occupy the same chronological frame, but they represent different levels of accomplishment in the development of the spirit.
Hegel's well-known distinction of the various stages of development of the spirit constitutes the privileged chronology against which all human achievements are measured, and their application serves to redistribute contemporaries and predecessors alike according to the logic of that chronology, with the paradoxical effect that people who live at the same time are no longer thought of as true contemporaries.
This view has become so prevalent among us today that we are no longer conscious of its extraordinary mode of apportioning time. And, of course, the potential for the imposition of ethnocentric assumptions inherent in such a view hardly needs remarking. Marxism has retained the Hegelian notion of stages of development, though no longer describing them as degrees in the disclosure Offenbarung of the spirit, but rather as steps in the complexity of modes of production.
It has also attempted to address the question of "noncontemporaneous contemporaries" by describing the relations between two societies in terms of domination, though, of course, such an explanation is acceptable only in those instances where a direct relation between the societies in question can be established. Otherwise, the Hegelian formulation remains in effect as, for instance, in the vexed problem of the so-called Asiatic mode of production.
The specific problematic that has drawn us into this discussion is the question of how historical representation will account for change and for difference among human societies. Faithful to the Enlightenment belief in the continuity and homogeneity of humankind, Hegelians and Marxists deal with the problem of difference by rupturing time and supposing that one chronology accommodates itself to multiple temporalities.
Those who rejected this view did so on the basis of a belief in inherent human differences, or racism. Racial characteristics would thus account for the differences in development between human societies. Under this conception, perhaps most logically carried out in the universities of Nazi Germany, and specifically in their departments of Rassenwissenschaft, it became necessary to distinguish as many racial types as one would distinguish levels of development.
But what would be the criteria by which one would determine the. Neither the Hegelian nor the Marxist ones would do. Instead, anthropological notions were used: first, physical anthropology to distinguish human beings on the basis of physical features ranging from apparent ones to invisible ones, such as blood types , and then culture, which was reinterpreted in nationalistic terms so that it served to distinguish not only societies as it commonly does among anthropologists but also levels of development among them by reference to one ideal type of culture, which, without any bashful ethnocentrism, was affirmed to be the Germanic one.
Against these versions of history, and their specific mode of conceptualizing change and difference, there have arisen some notable expressions of dissent though, in all fairness, the bulk of historians, especially Anglo-American ones, have continued to work in their more specialized fields diplomatic history, intellectual history, military history, ecclesiastical history, etc.
Such a characterization is unfair to a number of historical endeavors, especially in social, economic, and cultural history, no doubt, but in its very exaggeration it seeks to draw attention to the fact that the conception of change and difference that is presently dominant, even in these areas, is that of the Hegelian-Marxist type and that the generally perceived alternative has been a fundamentally racist one. The chief dissenters have been the French schools of historians of the Annales persuasion or those known as historians of mentalities.
The former, gathered around the publication that has served as a useful label for their movement, have abandoned the forms of history that were mostly attentive to the narration of those events that impressed themselves upon the consciousness of the individuals who lived through them or that relied upon the memoirs of great personages, or even those who were concerned with the fate of nations. These are the very areas in which the inquiry into the why has been the most intense and yet least assured of the validity of its results.
The Annalists are concerned with change and difference, but they believe that these result from a vast myriad of small-scale occurrences and developments, many of a highly technical nature, that generally escape the attention of those who live through them. There are no decisive events here, but an infinitesimal movement whose orientation can only be detected over the "long haul" la longue dure.
The historian does not tell a narrative because the actual movement of the action tends to be banal and the determination of the dramatis personae in the plot nearly impossible. The descriptive mode is favored, and the reader is presented with tableaux or fresques, forms of the representation characterized by stasis, hence the malaise that many readers feel in relation to this form of historiography: it seems to have lost history somewhere along the way.
Change and difference are not abandoned, to be sure, but they are relegated to a dimension that is hardly explored, or rather in which they are hardly detectable. The structure of this essay may be read as a narrative itself, one that has withheld until now the historian of mentalities it is after all a foreword to a work that, in all fairness, can be described as belonging to this category to allow that person to make a heroic entrance and dispose of the problems that have been erected as so many straw men to be triumphantly knocked down.
That may make for better narrative and its concomitant pleasures than for cognition, for the historian of mentalities, far from striking a heroic figure, may perhaps more accurately be seen as embodying some of the predicaments of historical discourse.
The very term mentalities a not altogether felicitous rendition of the French mentalits chiefly in the plural is, in many ways, a fuzzy notion.
Its use in a land in which reference to the mind as a locus of cognitive operations is decried as the most used up of philosophical ideologemes is, in itself, curious. But even more significant is the relationship of the term to the two other dominant schools of French historiography: the Annalist and the Marxist.
With respect to the first, the historians of mentalities seem to represent a form of attention that is almost explicitly rejected from view by the practitioners of that school.
It deals with how people live, think, and to use the term that distinguishes the school form mental representations of their own living conditions. One could almost say that the historian of mentalities seeks to endow the Annalist representation of material life and social organization with its mental counterpart. But to say this is to run into some difficulty with respect to the distinction of the historian of mentalities from the Marxist, for such a way of describing the project of the historian of mentalities is conceived of in the Marxist framework as the study of ideology.
This has led some to suspect that the historian of mentalities is really a Marxist student of ideologies who no longer acknowledges his or her Marxism, or, more precisely has abandoned all features and tenets of Marxism save the one that constitutes the field of inquiry, which is then renamed for the convenience of distinction. Such a conclusion is not entirely wrong, inasmuch as it recognizes or at least permits an acknowledgment of the difficult predicament of some historians who have wanted to make use of the intellectual heritage of Marxism without having to find themselves obliged to defend policies pursued in the name of Marxism.
The term mentalit has been useful in this regard. But one should be aware of the fact that its content has not been a stable one. As with similar endeavors, one may think of precursors. Huizinga's classic The Waning of the Middle Ages is frequently pointed to as perhaps the oldest example of this sort of approach, although one ought to recognize its continuity with the philological approaches of a Vossler, for example. But, in any case, it is generally with the publication in the sixties of the works of Robert Mandrou on popular culture and on sorcery,4 and those of Georges Duby on various aspects of the Middle Ages,5 that the histoire des mentalits is felt to have come into its own.
Antiguos Y Modernos
University of Madrid, Spain, professor of political science , chair of History of Political and Social Thought, beginning Rin Paris, France , For example, in his two-volume Estado moderno y mentalidad social siglos XV a XVII , the author focuses on the political theories of Western Europe from the beginning of the late medieval period and on through modern times. Stanley G.
Books by José Antonio Maravall