- Paperback: 236 pages
- Publisher: University of Chicago Press; New edition edition (February 15, 1982)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0226071510
- ISBN-13: 978-0226071510
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.6 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 14.7 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 6 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,101,855 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Text: English, French (translation) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Unlike French philosophers of his time, Braudel did not desire to appear as a self-starting genius capable of writing on everything: his historiographical suggestions are careful and modest, and a phrase which will be familiar to humanities scholars of recent vintage ("we have learned from X that...") occurs frequently in this book. His friend the sociologist Georges Gurevitch is one frequently cited as a source of inspiration, but one of the most charming essays is on a book about a dilapidated Brazilian mining town written by a "100% American" sociologist and nearly every other human science seems to Braudel a source of important tools: geography and demography are clearly major influences on his historical style. Braudel is also willing to hand out prizes to many other historians, classic and novel.
If you are involved with that intellectual pastime mysteriously known simply as "theory", the non-misplaced concreteness of this will be a bit of a relief; if you are a history buff raised on a diet of hagiographic books about the Founding Fathers, best to take a "longer view" with people slightly aware of the significance of revolutions but ready to talk about something else.
He explained, "A useful understanding has to be arrived at ... that the way to study history is to view it as a long duration, as what I have called the 'longue durée'... which by itself can pose all the great problems of social structures, past and present." (Pg. viii) He suggests, "There is... a history slower that the history of civilizations, a history which almost stands still, a history of man in his intimate relationship to the earth which bears and feeds him; it is a dialogue which never stops repeating itself, which repeats itself in order to persist, which may and does change superficially, but which goes on, tenaciously, as though it were somhow beyond time's reach and ravages." (Pg. 12)
He asserts, "We have already stated our mistrust of a history occupied solely with events. To be fair, though, if there is a sin in being overconcerned with events, then history, though the most obvious culprit, is not the only guilty one. All the social sciences have shared in this error." (Pg. 35) He adds, "sociology and history made up one single intellectual adventure, not two different sides of the same cloth but the very stuff of that cloth itself." (Pg. 69) He clarifies, "As far as the history of the 'longue durée' is concerned, history and sociology can hardly be said to meet, or even to rub shoulders. This would be saying too little. What they do is mingle. The 'longue durée' is the endless, inexhaustible history of structures and groups of structures. For the historian a structure is not just a thing built, put together; it also means permanence, sometimes for more than centuries." (Pg. 75)
He argues, "If I stand so strongly against the ideas of Toynbee ] or Spengler ], it is because these ideas persist in bringing humanity back to the old times... In order to accept that today's civilizations repeat the cycle of that of the Incas, or whomever, we would first have to concede that neither technology, nor economics, nor demography has any very great bearing on civilizations." (Pg. 215)
Braudel's book will be of keen interest to anyone studying the philosophy of history, or historiography in general.