Theories and Narratives

Theories and Narratives : Reflections on the Philosophy of History

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Description

"Theories and Narratives" explores the relationship between social theory and historical writing. Its aim is to establish the contribution that theory can make to understanding the past. Pursuing this objective, Alex Callinicos critically confronts a number of leading attempts to reconceptualize the meaning of history, including Francis Fukuyama's rehabilitation of Hegel's philosophy, and the postmodernist efforts of Hayden White and others to deny the existence of a past independent of our representations of it. In these cases, philosophical arguments are pursued in tandem with discussions of historical interpretations of Stalinism and the Holocaust. Marx's and Weber's theories of history are then critically compared in the context of the work of writers such as Michael Mann, W.G. Runciman and Robert Brenner. Finally, the politics of historical theory is explored in a discussion of Marxism's claims to be a universal theory of human progress. The book seeks to rebut the claim made by many postmodernists that Marxism is inherently Eurocentric in both its conceptual structures and political practice. Marx's project of human emancipation, it concludes, still defines our political horizons.show more

Product details

  • Hardback | 264 pages
  • 152 x 229mm
  • Polity Press
  • Oxford, United Kingdom
  • notes, index
  • 0745612008
  • 9780745612003

Table of contents

Part 1 Sympathy for the Devil? - Francis Fukuyama and the end of history: Fukuyama and the Left; Kojeve - from Hegel to Stalin; Fukuyama - from Spengler to Reagan; history and reason. Part 2 History as narrative: the claims of narrative; the specificity of modern historical discourse; facing the facts; theory and interpretation. Part 3 History as theory: what is a theory of history?; Marx or Weber?; capitalism and abstraction. Part 4 History as progress: meaning in history; the dialectics of progress; the rise of the West; identity and emancipation.show more

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12 ratings
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