History and Causality

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1 History and Causality

2 Also by Mark Hewitson EUROPE IN CRISIS: Intellectuals and the European Idea, (eds, with Matthew D Auria, 2012) NATIONALISM IN GERMANY, : Revolutionary Nation (Palgrave Macmillan, 2010) WHAT IS A NATION? EUROPE, (eds, with Timothy Baycroft, 2006) GERMANY AND THE CAUSES OF THE FIRST WORLD WAR (2004) NATIONAL IDENTITY AND POLITICAL THOUGHT IN GERMANY: Wilhelmine Depictions of the French Third Republic, (2000)

3 History and Causality Mark Hewitson Senior Lecturer in German History and Politics, University College London

4 Mark Hewitson 2014 Softcover reprint of the hardcover 1 st edition All rights reserved. No reproduction, copy or transmission of this publication may be made without written permission. No portion of this publication may be reproduced, copied or transmitted save with written permission or in accordance with the provisions of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988, or under the terms of any licence permitting limited copying issued by the Copyright Licensing Agency, Saffron House, 6 10 Kirby Street, London EC1N 8TS. Any person who does any unauthorized act in relation to this publication may be liable to criminal prosecution and civil claims for damages. The author has asserted his right to be identified as the author of this work in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act First published 2014 by PALGRAVE MACMILLAN Palgrave Macmillan in the UK is an imprint of Macmillan Publishers Limited, registered in England, company number , of Houndmills, Basingstoke, Hampshire RG21 6XS. Palgrave Macmillan in the US is a division of St Martin s Press LLC, 175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY Palgrave Macmillan is the global academic imprint of the above companies and has companies and representatives throughout the world. Palgrave and Macmillan are registered trademarks in the United States, the United Kingdom, Europe and other countries. ISBN ISBN (ebook) DOI / This book is printed on paper suitable for recycling and made from fully managed and sustained forest sources. Logging, pulping and manufacturing processes are expected to conform to the environmental regulations of the country of origin. A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library. A catalog record for this book is available from the Library of Congress. Typeset by MPS Limited, Chennai, India.

5 Contents Acknowledgements vi Introduction: Causality after the Linguistic Turn 1 1 Intellectual Historians and the Content of the Form 26 Telling the truth about Derrida 27 Textualism and contextualism 31 Explaining metahistories 34 Context and cause 38 2 Social History, Cultural History, Other Histories 52 The languages of social history 52 The new cultural history 61 Other histories and histories of the other 68 3 Causes, Events and Evidence 86 What is history? Causation and determinism 86 Theories of the event 93 Selection of evidence Time, Narrative and Causality 117 Emplotment and story- telling 118 Narrative, history and fiction 122 Problem- oriented history 127 Narration and explanation Explanation and Understanding 149 Explaining actions 149 Why-questions, generalizations and theories 159 Comparative and counterfactual methods Theories of Action and the Archaeology of Knowledge 180 Culture, practices and actions 180 Communicative actions 184 Structuration and the de- centred individual 192 Power and discourse 196 Conclusion 217 Select Bibliography 225 Index 254 v

6 Acknowledgements This book examines problems and questions faced by most, if not all historians, but which relatively few have treated explicitly. The questions are not new, first formulated in the eighteenth (Hume, Kant) and nineteenth centuries (Dilthey, Nietzsche, Windelband and Rickert, amongst others). Here, I aim to look at them, through reference to works of philosophy, sociology, political science and anthropology, from a historical point of view. The potential rewards of the undertaking, investigating problems in other disciplines from a particular standpoint, outweigh the attendant difficulties and dangers, in my opinion. Philosophers and other social scientists might find the questions inapposite or poorly defined and the answers which are necessarily provisional largely irrelevant or simply wrong. Even within the discipline of history, many will object to the arguments presented here. At least some practising historians, in the ambivalent terminology of historical theory, will probably wonder whether it is worth addressing such obvious questions, whose practical import seems limited; some post- modern historians, or self- confessed turners, will no doubt consider the characterizations of their positions overblown and their acceptance of causality overlooked; and some intellectual historians and philosophers of history might deny that their focus is mainly individual or textual. Few historical theorists will find all the claims made in this study convincing and many will be able to point to earlier and better treatments of the same topics. Nonetheless, I believe that a study of this kind can be justified. My decision to write the book derives from different sources (or can be said to prejudge the issue to have different causes). Like many practising historians, I have grappled with these questions more or less constantly. Having attempted to incorporate a class on causality and history into a wider course for undergraduates from various disciplines at UCL (an Introduction to European History, Law, Politics and Philosophy for students of European Social and Political Studies), I was surprised to find so little material on the subject in the recent literature on historical theory. There are, of course, relevant works in philosophy and other social sciences, but these are rarely read, cited or analysed by historians. Works of social theory, from Durkheim and Weber to Habermas and Foucault, are consulted more regularly, but they tend to treat the problem of causation in passing or in ways which can seem vi

7 Acknowledgements vii far removed from the central concerns of historians. I am grateful to the graduates at UCL s Centre for European Studies (now renamed), whom I have had the pleasure of teaching over the years (on courses about Social Theory and Theoretical Issues in History and Literature), for pointing out and contesting the relevance of such theories for historical enquiry. Students in ESPS, the German Department and the CES have regularly reinforced a long- standing conviction that reports of the differences between history, literary criticism, social science and philosophy have been grossly (or, more often, subtly) exaggerated. In addition to the students who have provided inspiration and objections, I am indebted to colleagues with whom I have taught relevant courses at UCL: in particular, Stephanie Bird, Mary Fulbrook, Martin Liebscher and Matthew D Auria. I owe a great debt, too, to Joan Wallach Scott, who helped to arrange a very enjoyable and stimulating stay at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, where I was able to begin this study. Both she and Didier Fassin were excellent academic hosts, as in Princeton, in a more general sense were Jan Müller, Erika Kiss, Matilda Luk and Alan Patten. At the IAS, I was aided by the constructive suggestions of Jeff Stout, Rohini Somanathan, Judith Surkis, Manu Goswami, Rita Chin and Jay Cook, with whom I had many informative and agreeable conversations, together with more occasional thrashings on a tennis court. During that year and afterwards, I have enjoyed the support, toleration and distraction for a work which I was meant to be completing in my spare time of my family, both extended and nuclear. This is probably the first book (of mine) that Anna and Camille can read: I am sorry that it is not more readable. To Cécile, who has read parts of it, professing more of an interest in this volume than in others from the viewpoint of her own discipline, I am also very thankful. London, June 2013

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