Synopsis

The present volume is dedicated to the philosophy of history, which has recently been shifting the center of its interest. While for decades it focused on explanation and its logical models, nowadays more and more attention is paid to narration and especially to the factors which condition it. Hence explanation and narration are the main subject of interest of the contributors to the present volume. Marxism is another point of reference of their texts. This is because the authors’ assumption is that despite the fact that Marxism has been ideologically discredited, to reduce it to nonsense or to deny its role in the shaping of the humanities in the 20th century, would be to let one’s field of vision be restricted by political influence. Thus an adequate reconstruction of Marxism still seems to be an interesting task.

In the opening paper on the changes in historiography and the philosophy of history in the 1980s, Georg G. IGGERS points to the tendency to replace analysis with narrative, long-term forces with events, collectives with persons, and also to the growing interest in problems of cultural life and in literary aspects of historical works (their language and terminology), and also in modern anthropological theory. In the case mentioned last, the point is to disclose not what a text says but what it symbolizes. Iggers also draws attention to the role of force and domination in the analysis of culture, and to the share Marxism has in that process, especially in its Western version. Jorn RSEN in his reflections on historical method points first to the emergence of the set of rules of procedure observed by professional historians, based on the canonical unity of heuristics, criticism, and interpretation (as seen, among others, by J.G. Droysen and E. Bernheim). Gradually, however, that unity has been split into problems of epistemology, theory, and rhetoric and language, with a special stress on the last one (aspects of narration). His conclusion is that research in history must be “regulated” in three ways: hermeneutically (search for sense), analytically (search for conditions) and “dialectically” (linking together the two approaches listed previously). Jerzy TOPOLSKI compares his model of integrative explanation, which strives to discover motives (sense) of human actions and to arrive at the causes of “historical facts” not interpreted in terms of human actions, with the explanatory practice of Karl Marx. His conclusion is that Marx referred to both models of explanation. That calls in question the objection raised against Marx’s conception that determinism was for him the only mechanism of historical change. Next to nomologico-deductive explanations (as in Capital) he also offered explanations based on reference to motivational structures (as in The 18th Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte). Marx’s historical materialism is also a subject matter of the reflections of Andrzej ZYBERTOWICZ. He in particular analyzes Marxian technological determinism as a part of historical materialism. While rejecting the traditional interpretation of historical materialism he refers to such authors as G.A. Cohen, O.C. North and W.H. Shaw and accepts the weaker thesis that a given level of productive forces is an indispensable condition for a given type of relations of production to stabilize and last (which also applies to the political order). Problems of historical materialism are also a subject matter of interest of Joanna BURBELKA, concerned with the various theories of the process of history to be found in ethnology. She examines them mainly from the point of view of their explanatory force and notes in this connection the values of neo-evolutionism and Godelier’s structuralism.

Izabela NOWAKOWA offers an analysis of the methodological structure of historical narratives in the light of the idealizational approach to science. This allows her to deepen the problem of the truthfulness of historical discourse by distinguishing the phenomenal and deep parts of the narrative. The deep part of narrative is a consequence of the assumed idealizational theory of the described phenomena. The deep part of historical narrative contains more or less complete explanation (interpretation) of the phenomena registered in the phenomenal part in terms of the presupposed theory. A property referred to in the phenomenal part of the narrative is a “described property,” whereas one referred to in the deep part of the narrative is an “interpretative property.” A narrative is absolutely false if none of the interpretative properties is essential (in the sense of the idealizational conception of science) for the described property and is absolutely true if the narrative interprets a given described property in terms of its full deep structure. If a certain described property has among its secondary determinants an interpretative property then the narrative is partially true. Jan POMORSKI taking into consideration the rich literature of the problem is trying to interpret historical narration with reference to such notions as narrative practice and methodological rules. His network of concepts is worth to be seriously verified in further analysis. The same can be said about the interesting approach to historical narration of Gwidon ZALEJKO. He argues that the form of historical narration affects to a high degree the character of the knowledge “produced” in the process of narrative construction. Such notions as “enforcement of continuity” or “enforcement of totality” proposed by the author seem to be very useful in the deepening of the study of the historical discourse. In the article of Wojciech WRZOSEK, who deals with the concept of time in history, time is regarded as a part of historically changing social consciousness. By the inquiry of time the author means the inquiry of the concept of time in systems of beliefs of various kinds. A philosophy that concentrates on a given segment of culture, for instance on science, would not regard its interpretation of the idea of time in that segment as absolute, for different segments of culture have different views of the temporal structure of reality. History, regarded as the science of the evolution of culture as a whole, can analyze and synthesize the historical changes of the concept of time. More indirectly connected with the methodology and theory of history are interesting studies of Angelo CONSTANZO on the notion of law in the light of methodological reflection and of Augusto Ponzo who comments on the theory of knowledge by Adam Schaff.