Wykład: Paul Roth – Reviving the Philosophy of History

Instytut Filozofii i Instytut historii oraz Polskie Towarzystwo Filozoficzne, Oddział w Poznaniu

zapraszają na wykład gościnny, który wygłosi Paul Roth (University of California at Santa Cruz)

Reviving the Philosophy of History

13 październik 2015 rok (wtorek), godz. 17:30

„DS Jowita”, sala A, ul. Zwierzyniecka 7

wykład połączony jest z sesją naukową Naturalizing the Humanities. A View from the Analytical Philosophy of History

wtorek, 13 październik 2015, godz. 13:00

„DS Jowita”, sala A, ul. Zwierzyniecka 7


13:00-13:15 – Introduction

13:15-13:45 – Jouni-Matti Kuukkanen (University of Oulu)

Yes, We Need a Philosophy of Historiography. But should it be Analytic?

13:45-14:15 – Eugen Zeleňák (Catholic University in Ružomberok)

Non-representationalism in Paul A. Roth’s Philosophy of History

14:15-14:45 – Krzysztof Brzechczyn (Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznań)

Narration and Explanation in Paul A. Roth’s Philosophy of History.

An Attempt of Comment from Perspective of Poznań School of Methodology

14:45-15:15 – discussion

15:15-15:45 – coffee break

15:45-16:15 – Rafał Paweł Wierzchosławski (University of Social Sciences and Humanities, Poznań)

 Antinomies of the Past. How to Overcome Excluding Standpoints in Pluralistic Methodology of History?

16:15-16:45 – Ewa Domańska (Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznań / Stanford University)

Paradigm Shift in the Contemporary Humanities and Social Sciences

16:45-17:15 – discussion

17:15-17:30 – coffee break

Naturalizing the Humanities:

A View from the Analytical Philosophy of History.

Abstracts and Biograms

Jouni-Matti Kuukkanen (University of Oulu), Yes, We Need a Philosophy of Historiography. But should it be Analytic?

Abstract. Paul Roth has called for a revival of philosophy of history. While I think this call is excellent and timely, it is likely to trigger complex questions. What is analytic philosophy of history? And what is analytic philosophy itself? More generally, should any specific style of philosophizing characterize this revived philosophy?  A related concern is whether philosophy of history should be framed and defined via some specific philosophical topic or area. Roth’s idea is that philosophy of history analyzes, should analyze, narratives as forms of explanation, which in effect means that it is narrativity that characterizes scholarly history-writing. As a commentary on Roth I will attend specifically to the following points: (1) The idea that narratives constitute events; (2) the idea that historians produce narratives. I argue that there is a tension between the claims that a historical event exists only under a narrative description but that providing a narrative description is linking together two temporally distinct events. Further, my suggestion is that historians use narratives in their argumentation for their historiographical theses, and that they are therefore reasoners. In the end of my commentary, I move on to a more general discussion on the kind of philosophy of history and historiography that should be (re-)created. We need a philosophy of historiography, that is, a historiography-specific philosophy that can learn from analytic philosophy (and other philosophical traditions) but not emulate it.

Bio. Jouni-Matti Kuukkanen is Associate Professor of Philosophy at the University of Oulu. He received his PhD in Philosophy from the University of Edinburgh in 2006 and has also worked in the universities of Durham, Leiden and Hull. He has been awarded Fulbright and EURIAS fellowships. Kuukkanen is a founder and co-director of The Oulu Centre for Theoretical and Philosophical Studies of History (http://www.oulu.fi/centreforphilosophyofhistory/), and has published widely on the philosophy of science and specifically on Thomas Kuhn, on the philosophical foundations of the historiography of science and the history of ideas, and on the philosophy of historiography. His book Postnarrativist Philosophy of Historiography (Palgrave) was published in 2015.

Eugen Zeleňák (Catholic University in Ružomberok),  Non-representationalism in Paul A. Roth’s Philosophy of History

Abstract. In the work of Paul Roth one can identify various interesting positions, which deserve attention of anybody trying to understand the nature of historical works, historical knowledge but also, more generally, the nature of knowledge about humans, their actions and societies they live in. In my talk I focus on one of those positions, namely, on non-representationalism in his philosophy of history. First, I characterize representationalism, according to which historical works should be understood as representations of some sort. Second, I contrast this view with the opposite view of non-representationalism, according to which historical works are outcomes of specific practices rather than representations of past events. Finally, I analyze non-representationalism in Roth’s philosophy of history and discuss the question whether it should be understood as a modest tool for assessing historical works or as a view providing us with a big picture for interpreting history and giving us an alternative to the popular correspondence framework.

Bio. Eugen Zeleňák is an associate professor in the Department of Philosophy, Faculty of Arts and Letters, Catholic University in Ružomberok, Slovakia. His main areas of interest are philosophy of history (historical explanation, historical narrative, semantics of history), philosophy of science (explanation, causation, realism debate) and metaphysics. He defended a dissertation on the topic of historical explanation, but he has written more extensively on the issue of historical representation and the topic of semantics of history. He is an author of several papers published in History and Theory, Journal of the Philosophy of History or Rethinking History and the book (in Slovak) Constructivism and Plurality in History (2011).

Krzysztof Brzechczyn (Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznań), Narration and Explanation in Paul A. Roth’s Philosophy of History. An Attempt of Comment from Perspective of Poznań School of Methodology

Abstract. The purpose of the lecture is to compare Paul A. Roth’s approach to the status of history and the type of explanation used in historiography with approaches developed in Poznań School of Methodology (Jerzy Topolski, Leszek Nowak, Izabela Nowakowa). This juxtaposition of two standpoints allowing revealing some hidden assumptions of Roth’s approach. The point of departure of Roth’s considerations is discussion of the pairs of the distinctions: nomothetic versus idiographic, scientific versus narrative explanation, understanding versus causality. The discussion of these distinctions led to perceiving history as an idiographic discipline, looking for understanding and not for laws and using narrative explanation which create historical events. However, the closer look at Roth’s stands proved that he assumed positivistic understanding of scientific law and flat one-dimensional concept of historical narrative and such understood concepts of scientific law and narration, he criticizes. Whereas, the concepts developed by authors from Poznań School of Methodology were based on idealizational understanding of the scientific law and multi-dimensional concept of historical narrative what led to different solutions of problems posed by P.A. Roth.

Bio. Krzysztof Brzechczyn is professor of the humanities, employed as professor ordinarius in Institute of Philosophy at Adam Mickiewicz University. He is author of following books (in Polish): Historical Distinctiveness of Central Europe. A Methodological Study (1998), Troubles with Poland. Selected Political Essays (1998), On the Multitude of Developmental Lines in Historical Process. An Attempt at Interpretation of Evolution of Mexican Society (2004) On the Evolution of the Social-Political Thought of Solidarność in the Years 1980-1981 (2013). He has edited Idealization XIII: Modeling in History (Rodopi 2009) and co-edited Thinking about Provincialism in Thinking (Rodopi 2012). Fields of interests: philosophy of history, political and social philosophy, methodology of history and theory of historiography.

Rafał Paweł Wierzchosławski (University of Social Sciences and Humanities, Poznań), Antynomies and the Pasts. How to Overcome Excluding Standpoints in Pluralistic Methodology of History?

Abstract. In his paper The Method of Antinomies: Oakeshott and Others Stephen Turner introduces the concept (and method) of antynomies in discussing politics and the political. The device involves antinomies—the most famous of Oakeshott’s being the antinomy between the state understood as a civil association and as an enterprise association, or Max Weber’s antinomic distinction between the politics of conviction and the politics of responsibility; or Carl Schmitt’s claims about the ultimate incompatibility of liberalism and democracy. This observation leads Turner to claim that there is an opposition between antinomism understood as a method or meta-theory of the political, and what might be called principlism. In the second standpoint, principles are held to be in some sense both derived from “current institutions” and superior to them. They have to provide a procedure of reconciling conflicts by subsuming them under a principle, very often by redefinition of concepts in questions (i.e. freedom). As Turner observes antinomic arguments nevertheless are about the relation between principles. The relation, however, is not philosophical: the antinomist assumes that the principles or ideas in question are, on the one hand, “ideal,” and on the other that they cannot both be realized fully without conflict with the other. The antinomist makes another interesting point: that the achievement of the ideal requires, as a condition, in some sense, things associated with its apparent contrary. Turner’s claim is that the existence of contingent antinomies shows is that there are circumstances, contingencies, under which principles cannot resolve antinomies. The obvious alternative conclusion—that there is a plurality of irreducibly competing and conflicting principles each of which has some attraction—cannot be addressed with the methods of redefinition and assimilating to a foundational principle.

Even acknowledging the fact of irreducible conflict turns into a discussion of the grounding principle of this acknowledgement.  The main question of my paper is to examine whether we may apply the proposed concept/method to the realm of the past? What are profits and limitations of such an application, or in other words, what antinomies might reveal in plurality of historical descriptions/narrative, especially when they try to exclude each other. A working hypothesis is that antinomism might work in context of competing historians’ descriptions, in particular those value-laden, especially when they tend to follow the path of principlism, by disclosing the contingency of excluding each other principlist understanding and evalutations of the past. I will provide an attempt of such an application of Turner’s concept to recent debate on the commemoration of Poles saving their Jewish neighbors during the Holocaust in Poland. The debate might be read as an example of two principlist narratives in question.

Bio. Rafał P. Wierzchosławski, PhD, graduated in philosophy from the Catholic University of Lublin, Poland. He continued his studies in Bielefeld, Köln, Paris, Louvain-la-Neuve, Genève and Neuchatel. He obtained his Ph.D. for the work The Intentional Subject and Explanation in the Social Sciences: Methodological Approach (in Polish). His main interests are: philosophy of social sciences, modern social theories, social ontology (collective intentionalities), political philosophy (republicanism), social studies of science and science and technology studies (expert studies). He has taught at the Faculty of Philosophy, Catholic University of Lublin (1990–2015), the Department of History (2005–2014) and the University of Social Sciences and Humanities SWPS in Poznań (since 2014). He is a member of the European Network of Social Ontology, the International Social Theory Consortium, European Network of the Philosophy of the Social Sciences and the International Social Ontology Society. 

Ewa Domańska (Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznań/Stanford University), Paradigm Shift in the Contemporary Humanities and Social Sciences

Abstract. The present argument has been developed in the context of what I term the comparative theory of the humanities and social sciences. This theory allows me to examine the coming and going of research trends, approaches, perspectives, and categories that result from and reflect the changes in today’s world. The interpretative frameworks of the avant-garde trends in the humanities and social sciences have shifted markedly in recent years from constructivist and interpretative paradigm (engaged, new humanities) to non-anthropocentric and post-Western paradigm influenced by various forms of posthumanism (posthumanities; ecological or environmental humanities; biohumanities). My aim is to identify the characteristics of the emerging alternative perspectives which suggest the need for a thorough rethinking of our notions of life, human nature, the relations between the human and the nonhuman, and for breaking away from the Western tradition of anthropocentrism. I would claim that this shift announces a revival of interest in analytic philosophy with its relation to natural sciences, and its interest in logical argumentation, modelling, lows, evidences, and facts. The problem of naturalizing epistemology seems to be of particular interest for philosophers of history at present. As an example, I will refer to Ernest Sosa’s ideas and its relevancy for developing a virtue epistemology of history.

Bio. Ewa Domanska is Associate Professor of theory and history of historiography in the Department of History, Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznan, Poland and Visiting Associate Professor at the Department of Anthropology, Stanford University. Her teaching and research interests include contemporary theory and history of historiography, comparative theory of the humanities and social sciences.  She is the author of 4 books, recently Historia egzystencjalna (Existential History. Critical Approach to Narrativism and Emancipatory Humanities, 2012), and editor and co-editor of many books including Encounters: Philosophy of History After Postmodernism (1998); Re-Figuring Hayden White (ed. with Frank Ankersmit and Hans Kellner, 2009) and Historia – dzisiaj (History–Today, ed. with Rafal Stobiecki and Tomasz Wislicz, 2014, in Polish).

Paul A. Roth  (University of California at Santa Cruz), Reviving the Philosophy of History

Abstract. A call to revive philosophy of history will, I expect, quickly prompt at least the following two questions: first, what exactly would this revival revive; and, second, why bother? Those skeptically inclined might counsel indefinite postponement, inasmuch as this subfield has remained mostly deserted since the 1970s. My primary concern will be to outline the current status of key issues raised by the first question, for the purpose of identifying those aspects within philosophy of history that both merit and demand renewed philosophical consideration. In particular, my paper reconsiders questions tied to the use of narrative as a form of explanation. Specifically, I focus on those features that make historical explanation distinctive and yet belonging on any satisfactory catalogue of explanatory strategies. I directly address an epistemic question that I take to be of central philosophical concern, viz., in what respects explanations in narrative form can be said to offer credible justifications. Answering this requires a turn away from narrative theory and back to neglected works by Arthur Danto and Louis Mink. For they understood in a manner now lost or forgotten the question of narrative explanation as an epistemic issue. Examination of some recent reflections on narrative explanation reveals how disconnected discussion has become from their concerns. Moreover, their work provides important and still crucial insights that can be deployed to fashion answers to philosophical concerns about narrative explanation. I conclude with two examples of what I claim to be explanations in narrative form—Raul Hilberg’s The Destruction of the European Jews and Michael Friedman’s A Parting of the Ways—that should motivate philosophers and others to attend to narratives as a mode of explanation in philosophy of history. These examples indicate as well how answering the first question noted at the outset also answers the second of my initial questions.

Bio. Paul A. Roth is Distinguished Professor in the Department of Philosophy at the University of California-Santa Cruz. Roth writes on the philosophy of social science, philosophy of history, and the history of analytic philosophy. He is the author of Meaning and Method in the Social Sciences and co-edited with Stephen Turner The Blackwell Guide to the Philosophy of the Social Sciences. He co-founded (with Alison Wylie and James Bohman) and continues to co-direct the annual Philosophy of Social Science Roundtable. He is completing a book on the metaphysics and epistemology of historical knowledge, The Pasts (forthcoming, Northwestern University Press.)

Comments are closed.