Monday, February 20, 2012


To continue my rambling about my personal political views, let me chip in a very brief post about historicism.  Historicism is the belief that the actual history of a particular person, group of people, or situation really matters.  Unlike more philosophical theories, historicism does not see particulars as reducible (even in principle) to general rules.  There is no overall scheme of things into which particulars must fit.  One cannot, therefore, bring Marxist philosophy (for example) to a situation and seek to present solutions on the basis of that philosophy; one must look at the particular circumstances.  In particular, one ought not to attempt an atemporal analysis, as if this situation had sprung from nowhere - as if it were a generic situation which could have a generic solution.

A grumble: history teaching in the UK is dreadful.  No offence at all is intended to the teachers, who do a grand job with a shoddy teaching philosophy.  When people in politics start to ramble on about British values, and other such twaddle which we supposedly share as a nation, it makes me want to scream.  What we share is history, except we don't know it because we've never been taught it in a coherent way.  And that leads to all sorts of silliness, like British leaders appearing to claim that what really unites us is a sense of fair play (apparently shared with no-one else in the world beyond this blessed isle), or the SNP talking as if Scotland had been somehow conquered and oppressed by England.  All this is due to not knowing the basic story of how we got here.  (Yes, I am suggesting we teach narrative history.  In order.)

Anyway, the point is this: attempting to move forward without looking backward is never going to work.  Being up to date, in and of itself, is of no use.  Being rooted matters.

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