Historiography - Where do you stand?

Where do you stand?

  • Great Man Theory

    Votes: 4 19.0%
  • Hegelianism

    Votes: 2 9.5%
  • Other - please specify

    Votes: 15 71.4%

  • Total voters
    21
Dec 2013
4
UK
#1
It seems strange that there are few threads on the history of history, or historiography. The two main strands of modern historical thought are The Great Man theory, the belief that great men (or women) are the driving force of history, and Hegelianism, the belief that history follows determinable and quantifiable patterns and stages. so where do you stand?
 
Mar 2010
2,522
#2
Neither. Too many variables occur. Whether by chance, luck, intelligence, obtaining technological advances, weather, geography, economy, etc...

Where you stand today, does not guarantee your future. For it is undefined. There are certain aspects you could achieve, but they are not guaranteed.
 
Jun 2013
102
San Francisco
#4
Just as the human personality is a combination of nature and nurture, or, in other words, genetic and environmental factors, history depends on a multitude of factors. Yes, there are "great men" who arise at various times and strongly influence the course of history, but the social and economic conditions have to be ripe for them. For example, Philip of Macedon and his son Alexander. If the Athenians and Spartans had not weakened each other in a long war, and Athens had maintained her strength and power, it is not likely that Philip would have so easily achieved hegemony over the Greeks, or that Alexander would have accomplished his Egyptian and Asian conquests.
Similarly, had there been no World War One, or had the victorious allies helped Germany rebuild rather than demand reparations, Hitler would most likely have lived and died in obscurity. "Great men" are always opportunists, and without the proper social and economic conditions their opportunities do not arise. There are many potential "great men" in every generation who never get the opportunity to influence history.
 
Dec 2013
7
Southampton, UK
#5
I agree that these two theories are too simplistic. Modern historiography is made up of numerous strands, and they're not all necessarily in competition with one another as 'the one true interpretation of the past'. Sometimes individuals can make a lot of difference, often societies unconsciously dictate their own futures, and it took only a single meteorite to wipe out the dinosaurs. One thing we learn from history is that there are never any easy answers.
 
Dec 2011
1,321
Belgium
#6
Just as the human personality is a combination of nature and nurture, or, in other words, genetic and environmental factors, history depends on a multitude of factors. Yes, there are "great men" who arise at various times and strongly influence the course of history, but the social and economic conditions have to be ripe for them. For example, Philip of Macedon and his son Alexander. If the Athenians and Spartans had not weakened each other in a long war, and Athens had maintained her strength and power, it is not likely that Philip would have so easily achieved hegemony over the Greeks, or that Alexander would have accomplished his Egyptian and Asian conquests.
Similarly, had there been no World War One, or had the victorious allies helped Germany rebuild rather than demand reparations, Hitler would most likely have lived and died in obscurity. "Great men" are always opportunists, and without the proper social and economic conditions their opportunities do not arise. There are many potential "great men" in every generation who never get the opportunity to influence history.
Robinlevin,

thank you for this message with which I agree completely.

I just this evening (21h09 (9PM)) mentioned the same on a French forum:
Forum Histoire - Passion Histoire ? Consulter le sujet - TPE : Hitler : Un homme normal ?

"un grand merci pour votre message cohérente. Je pense aussi selon vos lignes. Naturellement, beaucoup vont me reprocher que je suis un fonctionaliste plutôt qu'un intentionaliste. Mais pour moi on a toujours une interaction entre la partie fonctionaliste et celle du intentionalisme. Et le pourcentage des deux dans l'événement dépend des circonstances spécifiques?"
(I thank you for your coherent message. I think also in the same direction. Of course many will reproach, blame me that I am a functionalist more than an intentionalist. But for me there is Always an interaction between the functionalist part and the intentionalist one. And the percentages of the two in the event depends on the specific circumstances?)
It's the same discussion as in the nurture versus nature debate...


And my message from 7 December 2013:
"Je ne veux pas entrer avec mon message dans le cadre de la question fonctionaliste versus intentionaliste:
[ame="http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Historikerstreit"]Historikerstreit - Wikipédia[/ame]
J'ai néanmoins une opinion
. Comme dans le grand debat "nurture versus nature" on a dans l'histoire aussi la partie qui est dirigée par l'hasard et les grandes "tendances" et la partie qui est dirigée par les "grandes" figures qui altèrent intentionellement l'histoire. Et c'est dans cette conjonction que nait l'histoire?"
(I don't want to enter in my message into the question of functionalism bersus intentionalism.
I have nevertheless an opinion. As in the debate "nurture versus nature" one has in history also the part that is directed by the coincidence and the great "tendencies" and the part that is directed by the "great" figureheads who alter intentionally the history. And it is in that conjunction that history is born.)

Kind regards and with esteem,

Paul.
 

Belloc

Ad Honorem
Mar 2010
5,418
USA
#7
I think in regards to Hegelianism, one is mixing up philosophy of history with historiography. The two are not the same, even if they do overlap at times.

I couldn't consider myself Hegelian per se, but there are certain strains of the Hegelian philosophy of history that interest me for what it's worth.
 
Jun 2013
102
San Francisco
#8
Hello Paul,
It's nice to meet you. I have a niece in Paris who is a graduate student in history who might be interested in your theories. I will send her this exchange.
 
Dec 2013
6
IT
#9
I think that History has weird paths, certain men try to force the events, but sometimes those events follow their own path.

I think of the WWI for Italy, we have fought for the defeat of an AUstrian Hungarian Empire that was already collapsing.
 
Dec 2011
1,321
Belgium
#10
Hello Paul,
It's nice to meet you. I have a niece in Paris who is a graduate student in history who might be interested in your theories. I will send her this exchange.
Robinlevin,

thanks for the reply. My theories...hmm, that's perhaps a bit overrating...just studied some chemistry...but learned a lot from discussing on several fora of history...exchanging thoughts and doing research about the questions...first on the now ex-BBC messageboard of history in 2002, where I learned some English and then on different French history fora, where I learned some French...

Kind regards and with esteem,

Paul.
 

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