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They want to help the reader make sense of the historical events and actions, in terms of the thoughts, motives, and states of mind of the participants. Why has the Burmese junta dictatorship been so intransigent in its treatment of democracy activist Aung San Suu Kyi? Answers to questions like these require interpretation of actions, meanings, and intentions—of individual actors and of cultures that characterize whole populations.

And, of course, the historian faces an even more basic intellectual task: Historical data do not speak for themselves; archives are incomplete, ambiguous, contradictory, and confusing. The historian needs to interpret individual pieces of evidence; and he or she needs to be able to somehow fit the mass of evidence into a coherent and truthful story. So complex events like the Spanish Civil War present the historian with an ocean of historical traces in repositories and archives all over the world; these collections sometimes reflect specific efforts at concealment by the powerful for example, Franco's efforts to conceal all evidence of mass killings of Republicans after the end of fighting ; and the historian's task is to find ways of using this body of evidence to discern some of the truth about the past.

In short, historians conceptualize, describe, contextualize, explain, and interpret events and circumstances of the past. They sketch out ways of representing the complex activities and events of the past; they explain and interpret significant outcomes; and they base their findings on evidence in the present that bears upon facts about the past. Their accounts need to be grounded on the evidence of the available historical record; and their explanations and interpretations require that the historian arrive at hypotheses about social causes and cultural meanings.

Historians can turn to the best available theories in the social and behavioral sciences to arrive at theories about causal mechanisms and human behavior; so historical statements depend ultimately upon factual inquiry and theoretical reasoning. Ultimately, the historian's task is to shed light on the what, why, and how of the past, based on inferences from the evidence of the present. Two preliminary issues are relevant to almost all discussions of history and the philosophy of history.

These are issues having to do with the constitution of history and the levels at which we choose to characterize historical events and processes. The first issue concerns the relationship between actors and causes in history: The second issue concerns the question of scale of historical processes in space and time: Both issues can be illustrated in the history of France. Should we imagine that twentieth-century France is the end result of a number of major causes in its past—the collapse of the Roman order in the territory, the military successes of Charlemagne, the occurrence of the French Revolution, and defeat in the Franco-Prussian War?

Or should we acknowledge that France at any point in time was the object of action and contest among individuals, groups, and organizations, and that the interplay of strategic actors is a more fertile way of thinking about French history than the idea of a series of causal events? Scale is equally controversial. Should we think of France as a single comprehensive region, or as the agglomeration of separate regions and cultures with their own historical dynamics Alsace, Brittany, Burgundy? Further, is it useful to consider the long expanse of human activity in the territory of what is now France, or are historians better advised to focus their attention on shorter periods of time?

The following two sections will briefly consider these issues. Is history largely of interest because of the objective causal relations that exist among historical events and structures like the absolutist state or the Roman Empire? Or is history an agglomeration of the actions and mental frameworks of myriad individuals, high and low? Historians often pose questions like these: But what if the reality of history is significantly different from what is implied by this approach?

What if the causes of some very large and significant historical events are themselves small, granular, gradual, and cumulative? What if there is no satisfyingly simple and high-level answer to the question, why did Rome fall? What if, instead, the best we can do in some of these cases is to identify a swarm of independent, small-scale processes and contingencies that eventually produced the large outcome of interest?

More radically, it is worth considering whether this way of thinking about history as a series of causes and effects is even remotely suited to its subject matter. What if we think that the language of static causes does not work particularly well in the context of history? What if we take seriously the idea that history is the result of the actions and thoughts of vast numbers of actors, so history is a flow of action and knowledge rather than a sequence of causes and effects? What if we believe that there is an overwhelming amount of contingency and path dependency in history?

Do these alternative conceptions of history suggest that we need to ask different questions about large historical changes? Here is an alternative way of thinking of history: We might couch historical explanations in terms of how individual actors low and high acted in the context of these conditions; and we might interpret the large outcomes as no more than the aggregation of these countless actors and their actions.

Such an approach would help to inoculate us against the error of reification of historical structures, periods, or forces, in favor of a more disaggregated conception of multiple actors and shifting conditions of action. This orientation brings along with it the importance of analyzing closely the social and natural environment in which actors frame their choices. Our account of the flow of human action eventuating in historical change unavoidably needs to take into account the institutional and situational environment in which these actions take place.

Part of the topography of a period of historical change is the ensemble of institutions that exist more or less stably in the period: So historical explanations need to be sophisticated in their treatment of institutions and practices. Social circumstances can be both inhibiting and enabling; they constitute the environment within which individuals plan and act. It is an important circumstance that a given period in time possesses a fund of scientific and technical knowledge, a set of social relationships of power, and a level of material productivity.

It is also an important circumstance that knowledge is limited; that coercion exists; and that resources for action are limited. Within these opportunities and limitations, individuals, from leaders to ordinary people, make out their lives and ambitions through action. What all of this suggests is an alternative way of thinking about history that has a different structure from the idea of history as a stream of causes and effects, structures and events.

It is a view of history that gives close attention to states of knowledge, ideology, and agency, as well as institutions, organizations, and structures, and that gives less priority to the framework of cause and effect. Doing history forces us to make choices about the scale of the history with which we are concerned.

Suppose we are interested in Asian history. Are we concerned with Asia as a continent, or China, or Shandong Province? Or in historical terms, are we concerned with the whole of the Chinese Revolution, the base area of Yenan, or the specific experience of a handful of villages in Shandong during the s? And given the fundamental heterogeneity of social life, the choice of scale makes a big difference to the findings.

Historians differ fundamentally around the decisions they make about scale. William Hinton provides what is almost a month-to-month description of the Chinese Revolution in Fanshen village—a collection of a few hundred families Hinton, The book covers a few years and the events of a few hundred people. Likewise, Emmanuel Le Roy Ladurie offers a deep treatment of the villagers of Montaillou; once again, a single village and a limited time Le Roy Ladurie, William Cronon provides a focused and detailed account of the development of Chicago as a metropolis for the middle of the United States Cronon, At the other end of the scale spectrum, William McNeill provides a history of the world's diseases McNeill, ; Massimo Livi-Bacci offers a history of the world's population Livi-Bacci, ; and De Vries and Goudsblom provide an environmental history of the world De Vries and Goudsblom, In each of these cases, the historian has chosen a scale that encompasses virtually the whole of the globe, over millennia of time.

Both micro- and macro-histories have important shortcomings. The first threatens to be so particular as to lose all interest, whereas the second threatens to be so general as to lose all empirical relevance to real historical processes. There is a third choice available to the historian that addresses both points. This is to choose a scale that encompasses enough time and space to be genuinely interesting and important, but not so much as to defy valid analysis. This level of scale might be regional-for example, G.

William Skinner's analysis of the macro-regions of China Skinner, It might be national—for example, a social and political history of Indonesia.

And it might be supra-national—for example, an economic history of Western Europe or comparative treatment of Eurasian history. The key point is that historians in this middle range are free to choose the scale of analysis that seems to permit the best level of conceptualization of history, given the evidence that is available and the social processes that appear to be at work.

The topic of history has been treated frequently in modern European philosophy. A long, largely German, tradition of thought looks at history as a total and comprehensible process of events, structures, and processes, for which the philosophy of history can serve as an interpretive tool. This approach, speculative and meta-historical, aims to discern large, embracing patterns and directions in the unfolding of human history, persistent notwithstanding the erratic back-and-forth of particular historical developments.

Modern philosophers raising this set of questions about the large direction and meaning of history include Vico, Herder, and Hegel. A somewhat different line of thought in the continental tradition that has been very relevant to the philosophy of history is the hermeneutic tradition of the human sciences. Human beings make history; but what is the fundamental nature of the human being? Can the study of history shed light on this question? When we study different historical epochs, do we learn something about unchanging human beings—or do we learn about fundamental differences of motivation, reasoning, desire, and collectivity?

Is humanity a historical product? Giambattista Vico's New Science offered an interpretation of history that turned on the idea of a universal human nature and a universal history see Berlin for commentary. Vico's interpretation of the history of civilization offers the view that there is an underlying uniformity in human nature across historical settings that permits explanation of historical actions and processes. The common features of human nature give rise to a fixed series of stages of development of civil society, law, commerce, and government: Two things are worth noting about this perspective on history: Johann Gottfried Herder offers a strikingly different view about human nature and human ideas and motivations.

Herder argues for the historical contextuality of human nature in his work, Ideas for the Philosophy of History of Humanity He offers a historicized understanding of human nature, advocating the idea that human nature is itself a historical product and that human beings act differently in different periods of historical development —, Herder's views set the stage for the historicist philosophy of human nature later found in such nineteenth century figures as Hegel and Nietzsche.

Philosophers have raised questions about the meaning and structure of the totality of human history. Some philosophers have sought to discover a large organizing theme, meaning, or direction in human history. This may take the form of an effort to demonstrate how history enacts a divine order, or reveals a large pattern cyclical, teleological, progressive , or plays out an important theme for example, Hegel's conception of history as the unfolding of human freedom discussed below.

The ambition in each case is to demonstrate that the apparent contingency and arbitrariness of historical events can be related to a more fundamental underlying purpose or order. This approach to history may be described as hermeneutic; but it is focused on interpretation of large historical features rather than the interpretation of individual meanings and actions.

In effect, it treats the sweep of history as a complicated, tangled text, in which the interpreter assigns meanings to some elements of the story in order to fit these elements into the larger themes and motifs of the story. Ranke makes this point explicitly A recurring current in this approach to the philosophy of history falls in the area of theodicy or eschatology: Theologians and religious thinkers have attempted to find meaning in historical events as expressions of divine will. One reason for theological interest in this question is the problem of evil; thus Leibniz's Theodicy attempts to provide a logical interpretation of history that makes the tragedies of history compatible with a benevolent God's will In the twentieth century, theologians such as Maritain , Rust , and Dawson offered systematic efforts to provide Christian interpretations of history.

Enlightenment thinkers rejected the religious interpretation of history but brought in their own teleology, the idea of progress—the idea that humanity is moving in the direction of better and more perfect civilization, and that this progression can be witnessed through study of the history of civilization Condorcet ; Montesquieu Vico's philosophy of history seeks to identify a foundational series of stages of human civilization. Different civilizations go through the same stages, because human nature is constant across history Pompa Rousseau a; b and Kant —5; —6 brought some of these assumptions about rationality and progress into their political philosophies, and Adam Smith embodies some of this optimism about the progressive effects of rationality in his account of the unfolding of the modern European economic system This effort to derive a fixed series of stages as a tool of interpretation of the history of civilization is repeated throughout the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries; it finds expression in Hegel's philosophy discussed below , as well as Marx's materialist theory of the development of economic modes of production Marx and Engels —49; Marx and Engels Spengler , Toynbee , Wittfogel , and Lattimore These authors offered a reading of world history in terms of the rise and fall of civilizations, races, or cultures.

Their writings were not primarily inspired by philosophical or theological theories, but they were also not works of primary historical scholarship. Spengler and Toynbee portrayed human history as a coherent process in which civilizations pass through specific stages of youth, maturity, and senescence.

Wittfogel and Lattimore interpreted Asian civilizations in terms of large determining factors. Lattimore applies the key of geographic and ecological determinism to the development of Asian civilization Rowe A legitimate criticism of many efforts to offer an interpretation of the sweep of history is the view that it looks for meaning where none can exist. Interpretation of individual actions and life histories is intelligible, because we can ground our attributions of meaning in a theory of the individual person as possessing and creating meanings. But there is no super-agent lying behind historical events—for example, the French Revolution—and so it is a category mistake to attempt to find the meaning of the features of the event e.

The theological approach purports to evade this criticism by attributing agency to God as the author of history, but the assumption that there is a divine author of history takes the making of history out of the hands of humanity. Efforts to discern large stages in history such as those of Vico, Spengler, or Toynbee are vulnerable to a different criticism based on their mono-causal interpretations of the full complexity of human history. These authors single out one factor that is thought to drive history: But their hypotheses need to be evaluated on the basis of concrete historical evidence.

And the evidence concerning the large features of historical change over the past three millennia offers little support for the idea of one fixed process of civilizational development. Instead, human history, at virtually every scale, appears to embody a large degree of contingency and multiple pathways of development. For example, Michael Mann's sociology of early agrarian civilizations , De Vries and Goudsblom's efforts at global environmental history , and Jared Diamond's treatment of disease and warfare offer examples of scholars who attempt to explain some large features of human history on the basis of a few common human circumstances: The challenge for macro-history is to preserve the discipline of empirical evaluation for the large hypotheses that are put forward.

Hegel's philosophy of history is perhaps the most fully developed philosophical theory of history that attempts to discover meaning or direction in history a, b, Hegel regards history as an intelligible process moving towards a specific condition—the realization of human freedom. Hegel incorporates a deeper historicism into his philosophical theories than his predecessors or successors. And he views it to be a central task for philosophy to comprehend its place in the unfolding of history.

Hegel constructs world history into a narrative of stages of human freedom, from the public freedom of the polis and the citizenship of the Roman Republic, to the individual freedom of the Protestant Reformation, to the civic freedom of the modern state. He attempts to incorporate the civilizations of India and China into his understanding of world history, though he regards those civilizations as static and therefore pre-historical O'Brien For example, Napoleon's conquest of much of Europe is portrayed as a world-historical event doing history's work by establishing the terms of the rational bureaucratic state.

Hegel finds reason in history; but it is a latent reason, and one that can only be comprehended when the fullness of history's work is finished: It is worth observing that Hegel's philosophy of history is not the indefensible exercise of speculative philosophical reasoning that analytic philosophers sometimes paint it. His philosophical approach is not based solely on foundational apriori reasoning, and many of his interpretations of concrete historical developments are quite insightful.

His prescription is that the philosopher should seek to discover the rational within the real—not to impose the rational upon the real. His approach is neither purely philosophical nor purely empirical; instead, he undertakes to discover within the best historical knowledge of his time, an underlying rational principle that can be philosophically articulated Avineri Another important strand of continental philosophy of history proposes to apply hermeneutics to problems of historical interpretation. This approach focuses on the meaning of the actions and intentions of historical individuals rather than historical wholes.

This tradition derives from the tradition of scholarly Biblical interpretation. Hermeneutic scholars emphasized the linguistic and symbolic core of human interactions and maintained that the techniques that had been developed for the purpose of interpreting texts could also be employed to interpret symbolic human actions and products.

Wilhelm Dilthey maintained that the human sciences were inherently distinct from the natural sciences in that the former depend on the understanding of meaningful human actions, while the latter depend on causal explanation of non-intensional events , , Human life is structured and carried out through meaningful action and symbolic expressions.

Dilthey maintains that the intellectual tools of hermeneutics—the interpretation of meaningful texts—are suited to the interpretation of human action and history. The method of verstehen understanding makes a methodology of this approach; it invites the thinker to engage in an active construction of the meanings and intentions of the actors from their point of view Outhwaite This line of interpretation of human history found expression in the twentieth-century philosophical writings of Heidegger, Gadamer, Ricoeur, and Foucault. This tradition approaches the philosophy of history from the perspective of meaning and language.

It argues that historical knowledge depends upon interpretation of meaningful human actions and practices. Historians should probe historical events and actions in order to discover the interconnections of meaning and symbolic interaction that human actions have created Sherratt The hermeneutic tradition took an important new turn in the mid-twentieth century, as philosophers attempted to make sense of modern historical developments including war, ethnic and national hatred, and holocaust. Narratives of progress were no longer compelling, following the terrible events of the first half of the twentieth century.


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Paul Ricoeur draws out the parallels between personal memory, cultural memory, and history Dominick LaCapra brings the tools of interpretation theory and critical theory to bear on his treatment of the representation of the trauma of the Holocaust , This is a theme that has been taken up by contemporary historians, for example, by Michael Kammen in his treatment of public remembrance of the American Civil War Memory and the representation of the past play a key role in the formation of racial and national identities; numerous twentieth-century philosophers have noted the degree of subjectivity and construction that are inherent in the national memories represented in a group's telling of its history.

Although not himself falling within the continental lineage, R. Collingwood's philosophy of history falls within the general framework of hermeneutic philosophy of history Collingwood focuses on the question of how to specify the content of history. He argues that history is constituted by human actions. He presents the idea of re-enactment as a solution to the problem of knowledge of the past from the point of view of the present. The past is accessible to historians in the present, because it is open to them to re-enact important historical moments through imaginative reconstruction of the actors' states of mind and intentions.

He describes this activity of re-enactment in the context of the historical problem of understanding Plato's meanings as a philosopher or Caesar's intentions as a ruler:. The post-war German historian Reinhart Koselleck made important contributions to the philosophy of history that are largely independent from the other sources of Continental philosophy of history mentioned here. His major compendium, with Brunner and Conze, of the history of concepts of history in the German-speaking world is one of the major expressions of this work Brunner, Conze, and Koselleck Koselleck believes there are three key tasks for the metahistorian or philosopher: Koselleck represents these conceptual oppositions as representing conditions of possibility of any representation of history Bouton In order to represent history it is necessary to make use of a vocabulary that distinguishes the things we need to talk about; and historical concepts permit these identifications.

This in turn requires both conceptual and historical treatment: Further, Bouton argues that Koselleck also brings a critical perspective to the concepts that he discusses: To what extent do these particular concepts work well to characterize history? What this amounts to is the idea that history is the result of conceptualization of the past on the part of the people who tell it—professional historians, politicians, partisans, and ordinary citizens. It is therefore an important, even crucial, task to investigate the historical concepts that have been used to characterize the past.

This approach might seem to fall within the larger field of intellectual history; but Koselleck and other exponents believe that the historical concepts in use actually play a role as well in the concrete historical developments that occur within a period. Koselleck is concerned to uncover the logic and semantics of the concepts that have been used to describe historical events and processes; and he is interested in the historical evolution of some of those concepts over time. In this latter interest his definition of the question parallels that of the so-called Cambridge School of Quentin Skinner, John Dunn, and J.

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Historical revisionism - Wikipedia

Whatmore and Young provide extensive and useful accounts of each of the positions mentioned here. Rather, he looks at historical concepts on a spectrum of abstraction, from relatively close to events the French Revolution to more abstract revolutionary change. Moreover, he makes rigorous attempts to discover the meanings and uses of these concepts in their historical contexts.

It has to do with meanings in history, but it is neither teleological nor hermeneutic. It takes seriously the obligation of the historian excavate the historical facts with scrupulous rigor, but it is not empiricist or reductionist. Koselleck provides an innovative and constructive way of formulating the problem of historical knowledge. The traditions of empiricism and Anglo-American philosophy have also devoted occasional attention to history.

Philosophers in this tradition have avoided the questions of speculative philosophy of history and have instead raised questions about the logic and epistemology of historical knowledge. I learned quite a bit from the because it went into much greater depth than my UG course did. Look at how many people are stumped by Turabian. Many never wrote in it during the UG phase. You have to understand that no two people are alike.

People learn at different speeds. You may be capable of learning in a faster and more efficient manner than someone else. Did you have these courses at the UG level?

If so, try to realize that you did and most others did not. Then factor in learning capability. In any event the and courses are where they need to be. Jimmy, as usual, a well-reasoned argument. I will admit that without any historiography courses during my undergraduate degree, I spent a lot of time studying the topic. My senior thesis was on the historiography of a battle. No one really directed me down that path; I just found it fascinating when I began connecting the dots of how threads of history passed from historian to historian, or generation to generation.

With that said, I have gleaned so much from the period-specific works on historiography, more so than from any straight historiography works. It may not be the best for AMU given the reasons you pointed out, but it seems like a viable approach in some instances. Riddle me this, you seem to be approaching the concept from the notion that graduate students need historiography prior to diving into any history. This will obviously aid them in other courses. The question, essentially, is it better for a student to study historiography before studying some history?

Or is it better for the student to study some history with some historiography mixed in before studying historiography. I understand why AMU must do the former, but with students fresh off a BA in history, the latter seems like it would be more beneficial. When you write the thesis one section of it will be over the historiography of the topic in question. What they should be doing in this program is running an overall thesis guide on the side.

Currently they now have a course on how to write a thesis before you actually take the final course. This in effect gives you a semester and a half to write it in. Taking the historiography course at the end of your work would not be conducive to writing a good thesis. Not only would you have to study your topic, but you would also have to study the historiography of it at the same time. That could easily change your view of the topic. Again, no two people learn the same way. When a program is designed it takes into consideration a lot of different elements, one of which is what do students need in order to learn the most from the courses?

Do they have the basic skills and knowledge they need from day one? The answer is most of them do not have the basic skills and knowledge they need. If my memory serves me it can be taken with another history course in that first semester if one is taking 2 classes at a time. Then in the second semester. I recommend getting them both done immediately though. If I were the program supervisor or dean, I would make a required first semester course and a required second semester course for every reason I have explained to this point.

Take that course first. If you hate it, switch majors. This he does in order to expand and elaborate the arguments regarding the fallibility of history outlined in Rethinking History. In order to appear plausible any such discourse must normally look simultaneously towards the once real events and situations of the past and towards narrative-type myths common in all social formations. Moreover, history cannot recover that past, but only such evidence of a past as remains in accessible traces.

Philosophy of History

These traces are then transformed into written histories by means of a series of theoretically and methodologically disparate procedures ideological positionings, tropes, emplotments, argumentative modes and so on ; which historiography may then be made subject to a series of uses, logically infinite, but in practice for the most part the product of social power.

Histories, that is to say, are invariably fabricated, without any real foundations beyond the textual. In this way he once again shows, as he puts it in the introduction to Why History? Otherwise the ethical choice made will be merely formulaic, one intended to obey the rules of a previously worked out system or code. Postmodern thinking will, therefore, lead inevitably to the end of all rule-based ethical systems, in much the same way that it lead to the end of history. It was at this point, it may be noted, that Jenkins finally concluded that we should forget history, let it go, learn to live in new ways of timing time.

This he does by trying to promote in history the endless openness advocated by Derrida and other postmodern philosophers. Endless openness, logically unavoidable, he argues, will allow for new, disrespectful, contentious radical readings and rereadings, writings and rewritings to be produced. Such, it seems, is the ultimate purpose of Refiguring History.

Finally, in At the Limits of History , a collection of essays on the theory and practice of history written in the period —, Jenkins covers a wide range of subjects ranging from time to Marxism, the ethical responsibility of the historian and the works of Hayden White and Sande Cohen. For, as he remarks in his introduction, history depends not on the past for its current existence, but on its present representers historians and their representations.

No representations, as he puts it, no past. History, in short, having no object of enquiry, being able only to figure forth proposals, is merely a sort of rhetoric a category in which Aristotle placed it over 2, years ago , inescapably aesthetic. These very much condensed are: That the universe matter, stuff, materiality exists. That we human beings, of whatever culture or denomination we happen to come from, can never really know that matter, stuff or materiality, whatever it might be.

Moreover, what little we do know about such things, either by way of intuition or by their representation, is radically contingent, dependent always on the circumstances of their production, that is to say, the way we access them. Language meaning , far from corresponding to the world, is simply imposed on it, initially by way of what is in effect an act of violence. And as language words, such as history cannot escape indeterminacy being always subject to interminable re-description we shall never know what such words mean. Given how many such reified projections there have been, he adds critically, one might have expected them to have been seen for what they patently are, mere expressions of human desire.

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But apparently they were not so seen. Nevertheless, he [Jenkins] really is quite commonsensical, rational and measured. He knows what he knows and argues it forcefully, clearly, plainly, cogently and authoritatively. The authors of these argued variously:. Zagorin, in an article in History and Theory 1 , launched a wholesale attack on the postmodern critique of history, in particular that represented by the articles contained in The Postmodern History Reader 2 , a collection of articles recently edited by Jenkins.

In his article, Zagorin explained at some length that American history had for some time been threatened by mainly continental postmodernism and relativism. But in the end, thanks largely to the strength of American mainly analytical philosophy, it had succeeded in resisting the assault.

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As a result, most American historians, convinced that knowledge of the past, as a vanished reality, is attainable, have continued to write history based on the principles of rationality, logicality, objectivity and truth. Jenkins is simply unable to conceive the viability or value of an historical effort to restore to comprehension a vanished past.

In any case, most historians never have made the claims to absolute knowledge that Jenkins and his like suppose they make. They have always been aware, or should have been aware, that historians are human beings, potentially incompetent, biased, fallible and subjective; that the significance of facts is not embodied within the facts; that sources need to be contextualised; that languages and the vocabulary of documents require careful translation and critical decoding; and that any correspondence between historical sources and a lived past is at best tenuous. Most historians admit that they construct, configure and shape their texts by story, discourse, and emplotment.

Nevertheless, they cling to the belief that collective and disciplined endeavour will in the end enable them to construct a plausible narrative about, or model of, some aspect of the past that will justify their claim to tell a plausible story about it; even though that story will always remain conjectural, provisional, tentative, and open to future disagreement, refinement and ultimate obsolescence. Most historians, in short, share common political and cultural concerns with their eloquent antagonists; but they do not for the most part, engage seriously with the linguistic turn that would suggest that nothing real or objective exists outside language — a proposition that would lead to the destruction of history.

And what he has to say is not particularly convincing.