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On History New edition Edition
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This book is a historiography of sorts and composed of several essays/talks he gave about the need to rethink what we mean by history. He examines three concepts: 1) time; 2) the social sciences and their relation to history; and 3) history in the present age.
What do we mean by history? How does the historian decide where to focus (geography); when to focus (time); and what will be the subject of his focus (art, politics, etc. or all aspects of culture-civilization). Regarding the issue of time, Braudel suggests the social observer must see that the length of time that governs his focus is fundamental. Take the French Revolution for example. When did it begin? Some think seizing the Bastille was the critical moment. But why did the people of France decide to do this? What led to this moment. And when did the currents that led to the moment begin. And, more important perhaps from Braudel's perspective is what was going on in the meantime. How were ordinary people going about their lives?
In the end, the decision regarding time is subjective and this subjectivity is governed by ways of seeing-or social science perspectives. The sociologist is not concerned with the French Revolution or very much else that happened in the past. He might have read Comte and Marx as part of his graduate studies, but his current focus is on the here and now and what his survey results tell him.Read more ›
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.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Augustus said he found Rome a city of brick and left it a city of marble. Fernand Braudel, perhaps the single most influential historian of the 20th century, found history a matter... Read morePublished 13 months ago by Jeffrey Rubard
this is a text for a joint course in the philosophy of history I'm teaching. I look forward to digging into it.Published on January 24, 2014 by Rev. Dr. J. Dirk Reek