Thursday, December 3, 2009

Climate, and the Rise and fall of Civilization

There are a number of different definitions of “Civilization”. Chamber’s Dictionary defines civilization as “a stage of development in human society that is socially, politically, culturally and technologically advanced” and Wikipedia considers it “a complex society or culture group characterized by dependence upon agriculture, long-distance trade, state form of government, occupational specialization, urbanism, and class stratification”. But one thing those definitions have in common is that civilization may refer to emergence of “Society”, the organized group or association, meeting to share a common interest of activity and all kinds of development (specifically material) occur in it.

As humankind has gone through thousands of years, the civilization has been developed and progressed in many ways, but the essential (basic) form or basis of civilization has never changed. People settle in certain places and still form a group which we call a society and the society develops and progresses by interaction between people or societies. With this premise, we would say that it is quite meaningful to have a question that; why and how did civilization begin and emerge? What was the most influential factor of the emergence of civilizations?

There are many assertions on the factors of the emergence of civilization; being able to domesticate, invention of farming, invention of tools etc. However, first of all of those assumptions, I would like to point out the common point of four centers of civilization which are very first of emergence of civilization; Mesopotamian, Indian, Egyptian, and Chinese Civilization which is geographical position and climate. Actually, we do not know exactly why people formed a group. The reason may be possibly found in psychology which deals with human instinct. But as a historian, what we can say about earlier people is that they formed a group and settled along the river bank and in where the climate was warm and humid and this tendency of group of people was found in all of four centers of civilization. This fact is really strong appeal for us not to overlook environmental factor and influence on the civilization. One scholar says I quote: Climate shifts have both helped to foster the rise of civilization and contributed to their demises. William Henry Mcneill in his book “Plague and People (1998)” emphasizes the importance of environmental biological factor in human society. Arnold Toynbee in his book “A study of history (1935-1948)” also mentions about environmental factor in civilization as he suggests “Challenge and Response” theory.

If we notice that the early civilizations were based on agriculture, domestication and also on hunting and gathering food, we would know that the civilizations were strongly affected by climate and geographical factors. And in fact the geographical position of four centers of civilization which were suitable for farming, domesticating, hunting, and gathering food may be the important factor of emergence of civilization. We must not ignore the fact that all the four civilizations emerged in similar place in terms of geography and climate.

Nick Brooks, in his paper “Cultural responses to aridity in the Middle Holocene and Increased Social Complexity (2006)” closely looks into the environmental, specifically climatic influence on the emergence of civilization. In his paper, he proposes that the four centers of civilizations especially Sahara were warm and humid but as the world faced a profound climatic and environmental changes: weakening of monsoon system and widespread of aridification during 6th and early 5th century BC in those centers, the social development and complexity achieved during the early civilization were driven. In other words, the civilization collapsed by environmental deterioration.

Ancient civilizations, unlike nowadays, were quite dependant on environmental setting because of they were agricultural based. So the widespread of aridity was destructive enough to collapse the civilizations down. There was nothing the people could do in facing environmental challenge which was out of their control. As what Toynbee proposes, the civilization develops and progresses through facing and overcoming challenges but at the same time the civilization which was not able to respond to the challenge disappeared into history. As long as we, human beings are the part of the nature and environment, we cannot get ourselves out of environmental influence.

As the evidence, I would want to talk about the crisis of our very own civilization being brought by environmental challenge. Our civilization, the world, is now at critical moment. Our abuse on our motherland resulted in global warming which can cause complete destruction of the Earth. This environmental challenge is (Although the human being caused it) now being stronger and driving our civilization into a corner. Like what Toynbee says, if we cannot respond to the challenge, the civilization we achieved might be vanished.

Both recent civilization and ancient civilization face an environmental challenge. What is different from recent to ancient civilization is that the environmental challenge is caused by human being in recent time unlike which of ancient time that was made by nature itself. But the point is that the civilization faces environmental specifically climatic changes (When we say “Climate Change” it does not mean changing day by day, or week by week, or even month by month. What changes on that time-scale is weather, not climate. Climatic change happens in long duration) and the fate of civilization depends upon how people respond to that challenge. Not minding the cause of it (Whether human activity or nature itself), environmental (Climate) changes are great challenge which are perhaps impossible to be overcome to mankind and the societies.

I see the two sides of Environment, climate in specific that can cause both rise and fall of civilization. As long as we are human beings, who are the part of environment, we will not be able to get out of the environmental influence. It is expected that especially during ancient time in which the societies were greatly dependant on agriculture and sensitive with climatic change, the environmental change was quite big challenge to people and civilization.

Therefore, I would agree with the well-grounded scientific speculation of Brooks considering climate as the most important factor in the rise and fall of civilization. Noting that when people settled in certain place, climatic matter was considered important in choosing the place to for them settle (suitable for farming, domesticating etc.) and this was the beginning of civilization. To sum up the civilizations began with considering climate and collapsed when the climate went against them.


Toynbee, A. J. (1935-1948). A study of history (Vol. 1). London: Oxford University.

McNeill, W.H. (1998). Plagues and Peoples. New York: Anchor Books.

Brooks, Nick (2006) Cultural responses to aridity in the Middle Holocene and increased social complexity. Quarterly International, 151 (2006) 29–49. Retrieved January 07, 2009 from

Donald Kennedy (2000) Climate and Civilization, The Scientific Evidence for Climate Change and How Our Response to It May Influence National Polic. New York: State University of New York College at Oneonta

Civilization (November 29, 2009) In Wikipedia. The Free Encyclopedia Retrieved 08:37 November 29, 2009 from

Civilization Chambers Dictionary (1996). Edinburgh: Chambers

Friday, October 30, 2009

Presentation of Critical Analysis of the Philosophy of an Historian

The Guns of August and the Philosophy of History

“The Guns of August”, is a military history book written by Barbara Tuchman. It describes the First World War and the events behind of the war. The book was an immediate bestseller and was on the New York Times bestseller list for forty-two consecutive weeks and won the Pulitzer Prize. Even John F. Kennedy was so impressed by the book. He even gave copies to his cabinet and principal military advisors and commanded them to read it. Some people say that Kennedy drew from “The Guns of August” to help in dealing with the Cuban Missile Crisis. (Wikipedia)

“The Guns of August” is written with great insight and historical knowledge. It is not just a book but a book which implies profound philosophy of history. As my last work in the subject Philosophy of History, I would like to look into the philosophy of Barbara Tuchman shown in the one of her greatest books “The Guns of August”. I will try to show the philosophies of history of various philosopher which are impressed into on the book. So I would like to discuss more on philosophy of Barbara Tuchman in narrating the story of the First World War rather the story itself.

As I read the book, I was able to know that Tuchman used a priori imagination which has documentary support in narrating the stories of the World War I. In the first part of her book, she states that: “Sources for the narrative and for all quoted remarks are given in the Notes at the end of the book. I have tried to avoid spontaneous attribution or the “he must have” style of historical writing… All conditions of weather, thoughts or feelings and states of mind public or private, in the following pages have documentary support.”(Tuchman, 1962) Actually, she described feelings and states of mind of characters but as she says her descriptions are not spontaneous but based on historical facts. That is a priori imagination with historical knowledge and understanding. Some people say that Tuchman is a master of detail. As people read her book, they feel like they are in the war. I believe that describing of details is impossible with only documents. There must be a sort of imagination to describe details of an event.

In order to examine the philosophy of Barbara Tuchman and her view of the First World War, I carefully look how she begins the story. The story begins with funeral of Edward VII on May 20, 1910. The leaders of countries gathered to attend funeral of Edward, the King of England. Tuchman tries to explain the state of situation during 1910’s by describing hidden intention and state of the leaders and their countries: Germany, France, Russia, and Britain. Why does Tuchman begin the story of the World War I with the funeral of the king of England not the assassination of Archduke Francis Ferdinand?

Most of us think that the cause of breakout of the Great War was the assassination of Ferdinand. However Tuchman finds the real cause of the war from hidden tension and ambition of the countries in Europe. Indeed, for Tuchman, the assassination of Ferdinand was expected result of that tension between European countries.

Back to the story, the death of Edward IIV implied quite many things. He was the brilliant diplomat and succeeded to bring changes in relationship with France and other European countries, and this brilliant diplomatic skill completely encircled Germany and her ambition. We would see in the story, during the funeral, that Wilhelm, the leader of Germany was quite excited because the leader of England, who quite successfully and completely encircled Wilhelm’s country and restrained the ambition of Germany weather it was shown or hidden. Now, with the death of Edward, there would come various changes in Europe relations. After the death of Edward, the leaders of European powers busily and secretly work for their ambition and this is well shown in description of personal state of minds of characters.

Collingwood once said that “the principles and methods of natural science had been lately perfected and were being triumphantly applied to the investigation of the physical world.” (Collingwood, 1946) What I have noticed most in the book “The Guns of August” was that Barbara Tuchman followed what Collingwood said above in narrating the story.

Barbara Tuchman is quite brilliant to describe one’s mind. I could see that she is able to view the situations in relations to characters’ state of minds. As I read the book, I felt like I became the one of the charters in the book. In the book she was able to explain the situation and how the tension had been made in 1910’s by describing personal state of mind of the leaders of European countries. In the first chapter, “A Funeral”, I was able to see many statements by which what the charters in the book feel and conceive were clearly shown. And that exactly fit to the situations. Base on my observation how Tuchman begin and describe the story, I would say that she uses the priori imagination and she through the story, encourages us to be one of the characters and to feel what he/she feels in the story. By using a priori imagination, Tuchman would believe that the readers will be able to have better understanding about the situation and background of the First World War. She has almost perfectly reenacted the setting of that period and described even quite details by using priori imagination base on historical document and her own understanding in relation with historical context of that time.

What is great about Tuchman’s work is that imagination and documentary support (in order word “fact”) are balanced. A common error found in most of historical writing is unbalance of imagination and fact. In historical writing, the balance of fact and imagination (or let’s say narration) is quite important. Historical writing without imagination (I am talking about the imagination based on historical fact) but only historical documents are just “ideal chronicle” which is like recorder of all events ever happened but which cannot give any significance of the events according to Danto. And historical writing with too much imagination is just a fiction. So it is quite important to achieve balance among those.

For that reason, I would want to say that Tuchman’s work is great in terms of historical writing. She has made great narrative based on her imagination with support of historical facts and documents. “The Guns of August” is neither just fiction of a lady nor listing tedious historical facts. Rather it is a great story which is written with well collected historical facts and documents. Therefore, I would consider “The Guns of August” as the complete work of incomplete history.


Barbara W. Tuchman (1962). The Guns of August New York: Macmillan

Collingwood, R. G. (1946). The idea of history. Oxford: Oxford University Press, Pp.
205-334 .

Danto, A.C. (1985). Narration and knowledge. Columbia University.

The Guns of August (October 29, 2009). In Wikipedia. The Free Encyclopedia Retrieved 00:17 October 29, 2009 from

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Monograph #14 William Henry Mcneill

Spanish Flu Strikes the World

“Plague and People (1998)”, the masterpiece of William Mcneill who is the one of the most respected historians nowadays, emphasizes great effect and vital role of disease throughout history. As an epidemic parasite, various diseases have struck the world. Some civilizations which could not cope with diseases declined and were killed off. On the other hand, diseases also have brought great innovation in several countries like Italy where the first quarantine emerged. Regardless of goodness and badness of the diseases’ effects on the world, I would say it is quite obvious that every time severe disease swept civilizations they caused great changes.

In my monograph on Mcneill, I would like to present the one of the most severe diseases that struck the world and that caused great changes in the direction of the world history: Spanish Flu in 1918.

The Spanish Flu was an influenza pandemic that spread to nearly every part of the world. It was caused by an unusually virulent and deadly influenza a virus strain of subtype H1N1. Historical and epidemiological data are inadequate to identify the geographic origin of the virus. Most of its victims were healthy young adults, in contrast to most influenza outbreaks which predominantly affect juvenile, elderly, or otherwise weakened patients. (Wikipedia)

It was quite terrible disease. It killed about from 50 to 100 million people worldwide. And as estimated people, one third of the world population at the time became infected. The 1918 flu received its nickname Spanish flu primarily because the flue gained greater attention after it moved to Spain.

The noticeable fact is that it was during the First World War when Spanish flu swept Europe and America. There were many combats between allied power and central power in Europe countries, and as America got involved by German attack on US ship, the war was becoming larger. A large number of army crowded in specific area, and most of soldiers’ immune systems were weakened because of stresses and chemical attacks. Indeed, it was quite great chance for pandemic to strike this large number of people.

In fact, Spanish flu made great impact especially on the First World because of its unique feature that it killed many young adults, healthy victims rather than weak individuals and children. Its main target was soldiers, young adults who were fighting or would fight the war. It is quite interesting fact. Spanish flu seemed to be a pandemic which was prepared for the war because obviously its target was people in the war.

During the War, 100,000 of American soldiers died. In fact, 43,000 of them, around 50% of casualties were killed by Spanish flu. This fact shows us how strong and horrible the Spanish flu was. It killed as many people as the army did. So some researchers even insist that it was Spanish flu that stopped the war. After Spanish flu, there came worldwide flu prevention and it led to invention of penicillin which is preventing flu.

History tells us that every time strong diseases swept the world, there were great impacts at that time. We can easily find the examples of it aside from Spanish flu. Black Death which swept European countries during 14th century killed One-Third of Europe population only for 4 years. As a result of Black Death the feudalism, a political and social system which was strongly prevalent at the time was destroyed. Likewise, smallpox, yellow fever, and cholera which were extremely epidemic caused great changes in History.

Perhaps, History has been being led by plagues that are something we, human beings cannot control. Our history is giving various evidences on it.


McNeill, W.H. (1998). Plagues and peoples. New York: Anchor Books.

Spanish Flu (October 5, 2009). In Wikipedia. The Free Encyclopedia Retrieved 18:52 October 5, 2009 from

Spanish Flu (2009) Retrieved from

Position Paper #14 William Henry Mcneill



William Mcneill suggests a quite unique approach to History that I have never seen from another thirteen philosophers of History I have ever studied. While the most of Historians analyze and explain historical matters with for instance, human reason, or certain scientific laws, Mcneill introduces us another interesting and probable view and approach to History: a naturalistic, specifically biological approach.

In order for us to know why Mcneill, as not a scientist but a Historian takes biological approach to History, I would like to begin with quote from his book “Plagues and People (1998)”: “All animals depend on other living things for food, and human beings are no exception.”

Indeed, it is undeniable that a human being is obviously dependent on other living things and his environment. Before we discuss about human history in terms of civilization, culture, society, politics and those things which are resulted by human’s rational ability that distinguishes a man from an animal as what used to be believed, we must not overlook our entity as a biological being. When we seriously consider ourselves as a biological being which is not much different from an animal in terms of biological matters, then we will realize why we should closely look into our history with a biological view or approach.

When Mcneill talks about biological relationship of human being with other living organisms and environment, he takes “parasitism” as a main concern of that. Chambers Dictionary defines parasitism as a close association between two living organisms in which one (parasite) obtains food and physical protection from the other (host). Mcneill then divides parasitism into two: Microparasitism and Macroparasitism.

Microparasites are tiny organisms that find a source of a food in human tissues suitable for sustaining their own vital processes. Some microparasites provoke acute disease and either kill their host after only a brief period of time, or provoke immunity reactions inside his body that kill them off instead. (Mcneill, 1998)

Macroparasites exhibit similar diversity. Some kill at once, as lions and wolves must do when feeding on human or any other kind of flesh; others allow the host to survive indefinitely. (Mcneill, 1998)

In parasitic relation, balance or equilibrium between parasite and host is the most important matter. If a parasite extracts too much from a host, it endangers a host and host might die. Once a host is killed off, parasite will also die. When a parasite kills the host, it kills itself because when a host dies, there will be no more sources for parasite to get from it. So it is quite important to maintain a balance and equilibrium between a parasite and a host. When a balance is destroyed, then according to Mcneill, it is epidemic. And the relationship remains stable, it is endemic.

Mcneill considers human being as the greatest parasite. His book “Plagues and People (1998)” begins with the chapter “Man the Hunter” What is Mcneill emphasizes is that since the beginning, human being destroys and kills off a number of species in order for him to get what he needs for his life. He is a great parasite. For example, in Agricultural revolution, the first breakthrough of human civilization, ancient people killed a lot of species which are not sources of their foods. Actually that is the civilization, which progresses through killing off other species for their needs. As the result of development of language among men, men could be the strongest predator, or parasites in food chain. And that was the one of the motive power of the development of civilization. Killing hosts is what human being has been doing since the beginning of civilization. Man’s killing off his hosts is according to Mcneill, Macroparasitism. In order for human beings to sustain their lives, they had to rely on their hosts and they extracted things they needed from the hosts. That is civilization and society.

When a man, macroparasite destroys equilibrium and balance in their society by too much extracting from his host, it is epidemic which leads the society unstable and destroyed. Stability of society can be achieved only when the balance between parasite and host is maintained and that is endemic. Likewise, we can bring the biological relationship to understand our society. We may as well put the relationship between certain groups of people into parasitic relationship. For example, in ancient time, kings, priests, aristocrats, and nobles were like parasite which relies on peasant. They extract grains from peasant. If kings and noble group extract too much from peasant, they destroy themselves. That is epidemic. So in order to achieve a stable society, the parasitic relationship should keep its balance and equilibrium so that it will remain endemic.

I would agree with Mcneill’s idea. I believe a man is a part of nature so cannot live without nature and other living organisms. In fact, a man is ruling and controlling all the environments and living organisms as the greatest predator. However, our relationship to nature is indeed parasitic because we extract things from the nature and if we extract too much from it, it will die and we will die according to the rule of parasitism. That is why there must be balance in our relationship with other things. Therefore, what a human being has been learning throughout is how to cope and deal with his environment and how to maintain the balance and equilibrium with his hosts.


Equilibrium and Balance

When we maintain equilibrium in our society, we know the population grows. With growth in population, the people need to achieve balance among them and to their environment. According to Mcneill, the balance is achieved through three mechanisms: Disease, War and Famine.

First, as population grows, there may be more hosts for parasite, a disease. In large population, a disease will emerge to achieve that equilibrium. It kills off some of that growth in population. Second, increase in population of a certain group tempts a group to conquer other group and it leads to a war. It is a sort of macroparasitism. Third, when a large number of people extract too much from soil and plants the relationship of people to soil and to plant will be epidemic. It brings famine. Through these three mechanisms, the population pressure will be relieved. Therefore, it would achieve again the balance in parasitic relationship of human to his environment.

Among three mechanisms, disease is the most emphasized factor that has been affecting on human civilization and History. Indeed, human history is full of struggle of mankind to cope with epidemic parasite, diseases. The advent of disease has always made great impact in human civilizations. It has brought not only epidemic result but also great innovation such as quarantine in Italy. Every time when mankind meet a new disease which it cannot cope with, a disease brings great changes in human society no matter it is whether epidemic or endemic.

So it is obviously reliable to say human civilization thrives in the balance of their parasitic relationship and sometimes declines because of extreme unbalance resulted by epidemic parasitism. It can be found anywhere among men themselves, between man and plague, microparasite, and in other relationship with any other living things and environment. Therefore, I would like to say again that what we, human beings are learning throughout history is how to achieve balance with our hosts, and parasites. As a biological being, the key of our lives and civilization is found by biological approach to our history.


McNeill, W.H. (1998). Plagues and peoples. New York: Anchor Books.

Staloff, D. (1995) The search for a meaningful past philosophies, theories, and
interpretations [Audiobook]. The Teaching Company.

Parasitism Chambers Dictionary (1996). Edinburgh: Chambers

Monograph #13 Hayden White

Abraham Lincoln, the Civil War, and Emancipation Proclamation

In narrating History, it is quite important matter for Historians what poetic strategies or literary strategies they are going to take to describe certain events in History. Hayden White proposes four modes of explotment, in narrating Historical events: Romance, Tragedy, Comedy and Satire. Each one of them would have different view and emphasis on a single event.

Romance, according to White, is drama of self-identification, including a hero's triumph over evil. Tragedy is wherein a hero, through a fall or test, learns through resignation to work within the limitations of the world, and the audience learns as well. Comedy is in which there is harmony between the natural and the social; causes for celebration. Satire is the opposite of romance. In satire, people are captives in the world until they die.

I would like to write my monograph about the life of Abraham Lincoln who was the one of the greatest leaders of America in four different views, modes of explotment: Romance, Tragedy, Comedy and Satire.


Whenever I hear anyone arguing for slavery,
I feel a strong impulse to see it tried on him personally.

-Abraham Lincoln

It was so heated argument. The 1858 campaign featured the Lincoln-Douglas debates, a famous contest on slavery. Lincoln warned that "The Slave Power" was threatening the values of republicanism, while Stephen A. Douglas emphasized the supremacy of democracy, as set forth in his Freeport Doctrine, which said that local settlers should be free to choose whether to allow slavery or not. (Wikipedia)

Although it was Douglas who was reelected as the senate, Lincoln became emerging a national political star by this debate. There were a lot of obstacles for Lincoln to achieve his dream which is to free slaves and make equal society. However, his brilliant speech impressed public and he was elected as a president of America in 1860. It was the first victory of anti-slavery over slavery.

However, even after he became president, his opponents who advocated slavery did not stop being against Lincoln, their new leader. Finally the seven states- Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee, Kentucky, Missouri, and Arkansas declared themselves to be a new nation, the Confederate States of America.

It was a great challenge for Lincoln. Did he have to give up his passion to free slaves? It was now time for him to answer to challenge of his opponents. He decided to fight. He did not compromise. Then Civil War in America has begun in 1861. Even during the war, he continued his work on freeing slaves and in July 1862, Congress passed the Second Confiscation Act, which freed the slaves of anyone convicted of aiding the rebellion. The goal was to weaken the rebellion, which was led and controlled by slave owners. Finally The Emancipation Proclamation, announced on September 22, 1862 and put into effect on January 1, 1863, freed slaves in territories not already under Union control. As Union armies advanced south, more slaves were liberated until all of them in Confederate territory (over three million) were freed. Then Lincoln said “I never, in my life, felt more certain that I was doing right, than I do in signing this paper.” (Wikipedia)

After 2-3 years, Northern America defeated Southern America. And finally Lincoln succeeded to reunite America and completely abolish slavery in America.


It was terrible. The war in one nation produced about 1,030,000 casualties which was 3% of the population. Based on 1860 census figures, 8% of all white males aged 13 to 43 died in the war, including 6% in the North and an extraordinary 18% in the South.

Lincoln could see this. It was a tragedy. People who had same nationality and blood had to fight just because of differences in their ideas and ideologies. While 4 million black slaves were freed in 1861-65, a number of white men died. It was too expensive to be a cost for freeing slaves. Lincoln succeeded to free the slaves but he failed to save the lives of a number of people in his country.

Anyway, after the victory, Lincoln attended the play Our American Cousin on April 14, 1865. As a lone bodyguard wandered, and Lincoln sat in his state box (Box 7) in the balcony, by John Wilkes Booth crept up behind the President and waited for what he thought would be the funniest line of the play ("You sock-dologizing old man-trap"), hoping the laughter would muffle the noise of the gunshot. When the laughter began, Booth jumped into the box and aimed a single-shot, round-slug 0.44 caliber Deringer at his head, firing at point-blank range. (Wikipedia)

Lincoln died in 14 April 1865. It was not long after his victory. His life was just ended before he enjoyed his victory.


Civil war was actually a great conflict between South and North. Lincoln saw how terrible the war was and right after the war he tried to reconstruct Unite States. In early April, Grant took Petersburg and the Union army entered Richmond. Lincoln made a short trip to the fallen Confederate capital, and he was cheered wildly by freed slaves and Union soldiers. A Union general asked Lincoln how the conquered people of Richmond should be treated, and Lincoln answered, “If I were in your place, I'd let 'em up easy, let 'em up easy.” On April 9, 1865, just as Lincoln returned to Washington, Lee surrendered his army to Grant at Appomattox Court House, a village in Virginia. The war was all but over. (Encarta)

On April 11, 1865, Lincoln addressed a celebrating crowd gathered outside the White House. Again he called for national unity and goodwill toward the defeated South. He appealed to his audiences to “join in doing the acts necessary to restoring the practical relation between states and Union.” (Encarta)

Under the leadership of Abraham Lincoln, North and South rapidly recovered their friendship. Although they had lost a lot of things by the war, there became strong United States. Then the Unity among states brought great development in politics, economy, and society.


It seemed to be going right. It seemed to be successful. The war ended as Lincoln’s North defeated South. Lincoln showed his will to reconstruct United States, and friendship between North and South. His work was great, he proclaimed Emancipation, and won the war.
However, in fact, it was not like what was shown and seen. Just 3 days after the Civil War was completely over, Lincoln was assassinated by actor John Wilkes Booth.

Lincoln died in 14 April 1865. It was not long after his victory. His life was just ended before he enjoyed his victory. Lincoln’s death showed that a man was nothing but captive of the world until he died. Lincoln may have thought that he just succeeded in everything but it was the time for him to die.

So what happened after Lincoln’s death? What happened then after a great struggle of Lincoln and United States under his leadership? Nothing had changed. Blacks returned to a state of debt peonage which was even worse than slavery.

Everything was done, but nothing had changed. A number of people died and everything was ruined in America. All of them were for change. However, changes United State was given were too small for their sacrifices. And they were facing a new challenge.


Abraham Lincoln (October 6, 2009). In Wikipedia. The Free Encyclopedia Retrieved 04:37 October 6, 2009 from

American Civil War (October 6, 2009). In Wikipedia. The Free Encyclopedia Retrieved 00:21 October 6, 2009 from

Abraham Lincoln Retrieved from Encarta Encyclopedia (1993-2003): Microsoft Corporation

White, H. (1973). Metahistory: The historical imagination in nineteenth-century Europe.
Baltimore: John Hopkins University.

Rea, V. Metahistory. Retrieved October 10, 2007, from

Position Paper # 13 Hayden White


History, A Result of Poetic Strategies

I will consider the Historical work as what is most manifestly is- that is to say, a verbal structure in the form of a narrative prose discourse that purports to be a model, or icon, of that past structure and processes in the interest of explaining what they were by representing them

-Hayden White (1973)

Hayden White, as a post-structuralist, believes that in fact reality is jus our language. What does that mean? In fact, our world is full of uncountable number of events and phenomena and to be described and what describes them is language. It seems to be quite wild idea that but is not deniable. In fact we use our language to record, arrange, organize analyze and recreate Historical events. So I could not oppose post-structuralism insisting language is essential to History.

Based on this concept, Hayden White says that History is in fact poetically constructed which means to say History is a result of different poetic and linguistic strategies that are employed to describe certain events in History. Therefore, History is narrative.

White begins his book “Metahistory” by distinguishing the following levels of conceptualization in the Historical work: (1) chronicle; (2) story; (3) mode of emplotment; (4) mode of argument; and (5) mode of ideological implication. (White 1973) White tries to show what processes historical account goes through.

First of all, the unprocessed or not organized data of historical record should be organized and arranged in sequence of the time this is what White call chronicle. Then chronicle is organized into a story by further arrangement of the event into components of a “spectacle” or process of happening, which is thought to possess a discernible beginning, middle and end. (White, 1973)

If we have gone through the processes stated above, we are now to decide what particular poetic strategies to describe a story. This stage or let us say structure is what White emphasizes in his book. It is where his emphasis on role of language and literary strategies in History clearly shown. And this is the process


Four Modes of Emplotment

White tries to propose structure of History which is linked to language and literacy. So in His book “Metahistory (1973)” he proposes Western literacy tradition prescribe four structures of emplotment or ways of fashioning events into a narrative; romance, tragedy, comedy and satire. (Marie Hughes Warrington, 2009) This is actually the process to reconstruct historical events understandable to people.

The Romance is fundamentally a drama of self-identification symbolized by the hero’s transcendence of the world of experience, his victory over it, and his final liberation from it- the sort of drama associated with the Grail legend or the story of the resurrection of Christ in Christian mythology. It is drama of the triumph of good over evil, of virtue over vice, of light over darkness. (White, 1973) The tragedy shows hero fails to resolve successfully problems. He cannot overcome the problems which he faces. The comedy is where temporary triumphs over adversity occur in the world by the protagonist by means of reconciliations or brief reconciliations. The satire is a tale of diruption208 in which ultimately death and the bad always wins. (Staloff, 1995)

Those four modes of explotment are used to offer audiences a well explained, so understandable Historical account. It is quite interesting for me that there can be various forms of account and analysis according to different people who take different literary or poetic strategies to describe a single event. For example, if we see Lincoln’s life in the view of romance, we will emphasize his great struggle to free slaves in America. However if we see it in the view of tragedy, we will emphasize the scene that he was assassinated by his opponent.

I agree with that those kinds of explotment can make more interesting and understandable Historical account anyway. However I would like to point out that putting Historical events and or stories into poetic reconstruction would distort their objectivity.

I believe that the most of Historical writings and accounts cannot avoid taking a narrative form. However, I would like to remind myself and narrativists that when we narrate Historical events and explain them such modes of explotment, we must not damage and distort objectivity of the events. History is true story. So for me, as a Historian, delivering truth is more important matter than making historical events interesting to audience.

Therefore, I would say that in narrating History we must be able to deliver not only insight and teachings based on our subjectiveness but also insights and teachings which are clearly object.


Modes of Argument

White also proposes four structures of argument: formism, organicism, mechanism and contextualism

Formalist tries to identify objects by classifying, labelling, categorizing: "any historiography in which the depiction of the variety, color, and vividness of the historical field is taken as the central aim of the work" (White, 1973)

For the organicist, explanation ‘must take the form of a synthesis in which each of the parts of the whole must be shown either to mirror the structure of the totality or to prefigure the form of either the end of the whole process or at least the latest phase of the process’ (ibid.). (Marie Hughes Warrington, 2009)

Contextualists believe that ideas and actions are best explained when they are placed in context or ‘colligated’. (Marie Hughes Warrington, 2009)

Mechanistic writers try to identify and match ‘causes’ and ‘effects’. (Marie Hughes Warrington, 2009) They try to find laws that govern the operations of human activities.

Among four modes of argument proposed by White, I prefer Contextualism. I believe that Collingwood’s a priori imagination can partially be sort of Contxtualism because a priori imagination is suggesting us to go into the event and think of what must happen and what the situation must be like. A priori imagination must be corresponding with historical context. It does not allow any sort of wild imaginations that are not regarding historical context. So as a person who agrees with Collingwood’s theory I would prefer the Contextualism among those modes of argument.


Mode of Ideological Implication

According to Hayden White, the ideological dimensions of a Historical account reflect the ethical element in the Historian’s assumption of a particular position on the question of the nature of Historical knowledge and implications that can be drawn from the study of past events for the understanding of present ones. (White, 1973)

White proposes four modes of ideological implication: Conservative that says History evolves; Liberal that says progression of social History is the result of changes in law and government; Radical believes that Utopia is imminent and must be effected by revolutionary means; and Anarchist believes that the state is corrupt and therefore it must be destroyed and a new community must be started. The main concern of four ideological implications is Social, and possibly political changes. Conservatives are more suspicious of programmatic transformation of the society another three are optimistic about the rapid transformation in society. The four mode of ideological implication can also be categorized into two: Scientific and Realistic. Conservative and Anarchist are quite realistic while Liberal and Radical claim to be scientific.

The categorization of ideological implication in History is quite interesting and I believe that it is a well analyzed work. We cannot deny that the most of Historical accounts implies specific ideologies of writers because every work has reflection of its writer’s idea, theory, interest etc.


Historical Style- Combination of Three Modes

Now, I would like to discuss the part which I am interested in most in Hayden’s work “Metahistory”. I am very much interested that Historical writings or accounts are structurally a combination of three modes that I have discusses above: Explotment, Argument and Ideological implications. And I would like to present a table of combination proposed by White:

Emplotment Argument Ideology
Romantic Formist Anarchist
Tragic Mechanistic Radical
Comic Organicist Conservative
Satirical Contextualist Liberal

I am just amazed by precise analysis of Hayden White on Historical writings and accounts and how the modes are combined to be structure of Historical work. I cannot say I agree with all that White discusses but what he discusses is probable.

I would like to admire his approach to Historical writing. No matter how much I agree or disagree with him, his idea that precisely suggests structure of Historical works is quite interesting. I would want to consider his work as unconventional and creative conception on History.


Marie Hughes Warrington (2009). 50 Key Thinker on History New York: Routlege

White, H. (1973). Metahistory: The historical imagination in nineteenth-century Europe.
Baltimore: John Hopkins University.

Staloff, D. (1995) The search for a meaningful past philosophies, theories, and
interpretations [Audiobook]. The Teaching Company.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Economic Philosopher #2 John Maynard Keynes



As I researched on John Maynard Keynes’s life and work, I was able to point out that most of his theories were quite situational and relative to factual cases. The reason for that is because in his life time, there were crucial events like the First and Second World War and the Great Depression which struck the world. Those events were in fact so influential in terms of economy. Before those events struck the world, the most of countries’ economic system was capitalism proposed by Adam Smith and other classical economist (Keynes called them ‘classical’). However as they had gone through those disastrous events (especially Great Depression), they faced the problems of capitalism especially in market economy. No, in fact most of them would not realize the problems. It was Keynes who realized the errors of classical economic system. He begins his book “General Theory of Employment, Interest, and d Money (1936)”, he shows his bold object and I quote:

“I have called this book the General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money, placing the emphasis on the prefix general. The object of such a title is to contrast the character of my arguments and conclusions with those of the classical theory of the subject, upon which I was brought up and which dominates the economic thought, both practical and theoretical, of the governing and academic classes of this generation, as it has for a hundred years past.” -Keynes (1936)

Actually, he does not deny everything about classical theory. However he confidently points out the errors of classical theory and boldly suggests his idea as “general”. Therefore, even though he is not strong opponent of classical theory, Capitalism, his ideas and suggestions are seemingly quite critical against it.

Keynes’ remarkable books were published generally after he experienced various worldly problems so most of them were written thoroughly base on his practical experiences and accurate view points as a witness of the events. “The Economic Consequences of Peace (1919)” was published after the Treaty of Versailles, and his masterpiece “General Theory of Employment, Interest, and Money (1936)” was also published after he experienced the Great Depression.

I strongly believe that in order to fully understand Keynes’ theories, it is quite necessary to grasp the errors of classical theories that were shown in historical context and background when Keynes was living. Indeed, studying his theories requires not only economic knowledge but also historical knowledge.

As the one of the best economists among whom has ever existed, Keynes fearlessly challenges Classical theory that has been respected and advocated for a long time by various countries and people. John Maynard Keynes, who chose to be practical rather than to be theoretical, ends the introduction of his book “General Theory (1936)” by stating that:

“I shall argue that the postulates of the classical theory are applicable to a special case only and not to the general case, the situation which it assumes being a limiting point of the possible positions of equilibrium. Moreover, the characteristics of the special case assumed by the classical theory happen not to be those of the economic society in which we actually live, with the result that its teaching is misleading and disastrous if we attempt to apply it to the facts of experience.” –Keynes (1936)


The Life and Work of John Maynard Keynes

John Maynard Keynes, (5 June 1883 – 21 April 1946) was a British economist whose ideas have been a central influence on modern macroeconomics, both in theory and practice. He advocated interventionist government policy, by which governments would use fiscal and monetary measures to mitigate the adverse effects of business cycles, economic recessions, and depressions. His ideas are the basis for the school of thought known as Keynesian economics, and its various offshoots.

John Maynard Keynes was born in Cambridge to a middle class family. His parents were both an intellectual. His father, John Neville Keynes was a lecturer of Cambridge University and his mother, Florence Ada Keynes was a local social reformer. So he would receive his father’s support in terms of expert coaching financial help.

Keynes had his early education at home and in kindergarten. He attended St Faith's preparatory school as a day pupil from 1892-1897. Teachers described Keynes as brilliant, but on occasion, careless and lacking in determination. His health was often poor during this period, leading to several long absences.

Keynes won a scholarship to study at Eton, where he displayed talent in a wide range of subjects, particularly mathematics, classics and history. Despite his middle class background, Keynes mixed easily with upper class pupils. In 1902 Keynes left Eton for King's College, Cambridge, to study mathematics. It was time when Keynes became interested in Economy as he met Alfred Marshall who considered Keynes as a future great economist.

In his school, he was known as very active student. He was interested in philosophy especially ethical system of G.E Moor. At the same time, he was also a member of the semi-secretive Cambridge Apostle society. It was a sort of group in which the number of members was as small as not more than 12 and that pursued elitism. As he acted as a member of elite group, he became an advocate of elitism.

Like many members, Keynes retained a bond to the club after graduating and continued to attend occasional meetings throughout his life. Before leaving Cambridge, Keynes became the President of the Cambridge University Liberal Club. In May 1904 he received a first class B.A. in mathematics. Aside from a few months spent on holidays with family and friends, Keynes continued to involve himself with the university over the next two years. He took part in debates, further studied philosophy and attended economics lectures informally as a graduate student. He also studied for his 1905 Tripos and 1906 Civil Service exams. Keynes was always confident he could find a solution to whatever problem he turned his attention to, and retained a lasting faith in the ability of government officials to do good.

Keynes began his civil service in October 1906, as a clerk in the India office. However, he was not interested in the India office, so he resigned his position and went back to Cambridge to work on probability theory. It was the time when Keynes published his first professional economics article in Economics Journal in 1909. Then By 1913 he had published his first book, Indian Currency and Finance. He was then appointed to the Royal Commission on Indian Currency and Finance– the same topic as his book – where Keynes showed considerable talent at applying economic theory to practical problems.

In January 1915 Keynes took up an official government position at the Treasury. Among his responsibilities were the design of terms of credit between Britain and its continental allies during the war, and the acquisition of scarce currencies. According to economist Robert Lekachman, Keynes's "nerve and mastery became legendary" due to his performance of these duties, as in the case where he managed to assemble — with difficulty — a small supply of Spanish pesetas.

In 1919, when the First World War ended, the countries that had involved in the war gathered in Versailles to settle the matter after the war. Keynes was also there as a financial representative for the Treasury. His experience at Treaty of Versailles was so influential for him to sketch his idea and future outlook. Actually, Keynes strongly opposed the Articles agreed in the Treaty of Versailles especially about huge reparation imposed on Germany. Through his book, “The Economic Consequences of Peace”(1919) He insisted that Germany was not able to pay reparation required by allied powers and those harsh punishments would give chance an instigator to lead uprising. Keynes's predictions of disaster were borne out when the German economy suffered the hyperinflation of 1923, and again by the collapse of the Weimar Republic and the outbreak of World War II

After returning to Cambridge, he published his Treatise on Probability (1921). where he dismantled the classical theory of probability and launched what has since become known as the "logical-relationist" theory of probability. Keynes's work caused something of a stir, arousing the young Cantabrigian logician, Frank P. Ramsey, to outline his own "subjective" theory of probability.

Throughout the 1920s, Keynes remained active in public policy debates, channeled mainly through his numerous articles in the Nation and Atheneum, a Liberal-Labour weekly magazine which he helped purchase in 1923 (it was absorbed by the New Statesman in 1931). The best of Keynes public policy writings was collected in his Essays in Persuasion (1931). He was on the forefront of the battle against returning Britain to the gold standard on a pre-war parity (e.g. 1925). This led him to author two famous pieces in condemnation of laissez-faire economic policy (1925,1926). In 1929, he wrote an election pamphlet with Hubert D. Henderson advocating the use of public works to reduce unemployment and condemning the Treasury's fear of "budget deficits". In 1929, he also entered into a small debate with Bertil Ohlin and Jacques Rueff on German reparations problem. He also found time to marry the Russian ballerina, Lydia Lopokova in 1925

Keynes' magnum opus the General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money was published in 1936. It was indexed by Keynes's student, later the economist David Bensusan-Butt. The work served as a theoretical justification for the interventionist policies Keynes favored for tackling a recession. The General Theory challenged the earlier neo-classical economic paradigm, which had held that provided it was unfettered by government interference, the market would naturally establish full employment equilibrium.

During World War II, Keynes argued in How to Pay for the War, published in 1940, that the war effort should be largely financed by higher taxation and especially by compulsory saving (essentially workers loaning money to the government), rather than deficit spending, in order to avoid inflation. In June 1942, Keynes was rewarded for his service with an hereditary peerage in the King's Birthday Honours. On 7 July his title was gazetted as Baron Keynes, of Tilton in the County of Sussex, and he took his seat in the House of Lords on the Liberal Party benches. In the mid-1944 negotiations that established the Bretton Woods system. The Keynes-plan, concerning an international clearing-union argued for a radical system for the management of currencies. He proposed the creation of a common world unit of currency, the Bancor and of new global institutions — a world central bank and the International Clearing Union. His idea founded the two new institutions, later known as the World Bank and IMF, as a compromise that primarily reflected the American vision.

Throughout his life Keynes worked energetically for the benefit both of the public and his friends – even when his health was poor he laboured to sort out the finances of his old college and to try to design an international monetary system that would benefit the whole world at Bretton Woods. Keynes suffered his final series of fatal heart attacks during negotiations for an Anglo-American loan he was trying to secure on favourable terms for Great Britain from the United States, a process he described as "absolute hell". Keynes died at Tilton, his farmhouse home near Firle, East Sussex, on 21 April 1946, a few weeks after returning from America.


Classical Economist vs Keynes

One economist has said that Keynesian revolution is the legacy of the Great Depression. The Great Depression was a severe worldwide economic depression in the decade preceding World War II. The timing of the Great Depression varied across nations, but in most countries it started in about 1929 and lasted until the late 1930s or early 1940s. It was the longest, most widespread, and deepest depression of the 20th century, and is used in the 21st century as an example of how far the world's economy can decline. The depression originated in the United States, triggered by the stock market crash of October 29, 1929 (known as Black Tuesday), but quickly spread to almost every country in the world. (Wikipedia)

Compared to Classical economic theories, Keynes’ ideas were generally intuitive. As a witness of the Great Depression, he viewed the phenomena of the Great Depression quite differently with Classical economists. At the time, Keynes’ ideas were quite shocking and revolutionary because in some way, he upset the classical theories which were mostly prevalent and respected at the time. I would like to briefly points out different concepts between Classical economist and Keynes:

Price: Classical- Flexible Keynsian- Sticky
Period: Classical- Long Keynesian- Short
Main body: Classical- Market Keynesian- Government
Focus on: Classical- Supply Keyensian- Demand

The Great Depression was a case of deflation. Deflation according to Chambers Dictionary is a reduction in the amount of money available in a country, resulting in lower levels of economic activity, industrial output and employment, and a lower rate of increase in wages and prices. In simply way, the Great Depression, a deflation would be cyclically explained:

Fall of consumer’s expenditure à Decrease in aggregate demand à Excess stock à Decrease in manufacturing à Decrease in demand of labor à Unemployment à Family income decreases à fall of expenditure

The most important and noticeable difference between Classical economists and Keynes is the view on flexibility of price. Classical economists believe that prices decided in market were flexible. According to them, when there is more demand than supply price immediately rises, and when there is more supply than demand, price immediately falls. To sum up the price is controlled flexibly by invisible hand and it will be of course taking place with long term. It is the ability of market economy. Therefore, if their assumption is true, there will never be excess demand and supply and unemployment. Base on these assumptions, classical economists insisted autonomy of market system even during the Great Depression. They say if there is deflation or inflation, invisible hand of market will control it and it will be ok. However Keynes thinks it differently. He criticizes them by saying that “The long run is a misleading guide to current affairs. In the long run we are all dead.” According to him, price is sticky at least for short term so there may be excess supply and unemployment. Accordingly, even when there is more supply than demand price may not fall and excess supply may continue. So what Keynes proposes as a solution to fall of price is to deal with demand.


It is bad to save too much

If we closely look into the phenomena of deflation in America, we would understand Keynes emphasizing matter of demand. Let us go back to the cycle of deflation. How can we cut off this cycle? Deflation simply means that there are products to buy but people are not able to buy it because they do not have money. They do not have money because they do not have a job. Yes, indeed the first problem that must be settled to escape from deflation is unemployment.

Let us go deeper. As long as price is sticky at least for a short time, we have to deal with quantity. We have to increase quantity of product produced so that we can employ the people. They will earn money. As long as they have money they will buy things and demand increases. Then they escape from deflation.

People during the Great Depression tried to raise the prices of commodities by restricting their supply. It seemed to be reasonable because they had excess stock. According to the classical theory, when there is less supply than demand the price rises. However Keynes says that “restriction is worse than useless.” (Keynes, 1933)

Then he in his book “The Means to Prosperity (1933)” proposes five ways to raise prices and employment. I would like to present four of them and I quote:

1. For commodities as a whole there can be no possible means of raising their prices except by increasing expenditure upon them more rapidly than their supply comes upon the market,

2. Expenditure can only be increased if the public spend a larger proportion of the incomes they already have, or if their aggregate spending power is increased in some other way.

3. There are narrow limits to increasing expenditure out of existing incomes,—whether by saving less or by increased personal expenditure of a capital nature. Anyone who can afford to spend more should be encouraged to do so, particularly if he has opportunities to spend on new capital or semi-capital objects. we must aim at increasing aggregate spending power. If we can achieve this, it will partly serve to raise prices and partly to increase employment.

4. Putting on one side the special case of people who can earn their incomes by actually producing gold, it is broadly true to say that aggregate spending power within a country can only be raised either (i.) by increasing the loan-expenditure of the community; or (ii.) by improving the foreign balance so that a larger proportion of current expenditure again becomes income in the hands of home producers. By means of public works the Labour Government—though rather half-heartedly and in adverse attendant circumstances—attempted the first.

These four means of raising price and employment are simply saying that it is bad to say too much. He strongly insists that people, the consumers and government should spend and increase expenditure. However, during the Great Depression, people had already lost their ability to consume. They had nothing to spend. Therefore, it was the government that must increase expenditure and input capitals to deflated economy. But the problem was that for a long time government had not been allowed to interfere in economy. It was because of Classical economists who insisted autonomy of market and minimizing of interference of government.

Keynes had recognized several problem of classical theory which was dependent on market. Classical economists believed that the market economy was enabled to regulate prices and quantity of commodities by so-called invisible hand which refers to people’s behavior in their own interest. (Wikipedia) Great Depression happened primarily because of unstable prices and quantity of commodities. Classical economists believed that market with invisible hand, was going to regulate prices and quantity of commodities and everything would soon be ok. However, Keynes did not rely on the ability of market and insisted interference of government as long as people were not available to spend and increase expenditure.


New Deal

The New Deal was the name that United States President Franklin D. Roosevelt gave to a complex package of economic programs he effected between 1933 and 1935 with the goals of what historians call the 3 Rs, of giving Relief to the unemployed and badly hurt farmers, Reform of business and financial practices, and promoting Recovery of the economy during the Great Depression. (Wikipedia)

Keynes believed that the remedy for the Great Depression was increasing of expenditure. It could be done by increasing consumer’s income. In order to increase consumer’s income unemployment problem must be settled. Since market was not able to handle unemployment problem, the government had to handle it. Government would spend money and begin national business to provide people a job.

Franklin D. Roosevelt was the one who accepted Keynes’ idea. After he was elected as a president of the United States he drastically gave up the principle of Laissez-Faire and promoted interference of government. Simply New Deal was the trial to produce employment. So the government headed by Roosevelt then began programs to raise employment once again for instance national business to provide people a job. I would like to briefly list notable programs have been done by New Deal:

1. Reconstruction Finance Corporation a Hoover agency expanded under Jesse Holman Jones to make large loans to big business. Ended in 1954;

2. Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), 1933-1942: employed young men to perform unskilled work in rural areas; under United States Army supervision; separate program for Native American;

3. Public Works Administration (PWA), 1933: built large public works projects; used private contractors (did not directly hire unemployed);

4. Civil Works Administration (CWA), 1933-34: provided temporary jobs to millions of unemployed;

5. Works Progress Administration (WPA), 1935: a national labor program for more than 2 million unemployed; created useful construction work for unskilled men; also sewing projects for women and arts projects for unemployed artists, musicians and writers. (Wikipedia)

The active interference of government headed by Roosevelt raised employment. And people would again act as a consumer and expenditure and demand increased. Indeed, Keynes’ idea was proven by New Deal, the breakthrough of the Great Depression.

Government expenditure (National program & Business) à Employment à Increase in Consumer’s income à Increase in demand à balance in supply and demand à Stability in price and quantity of goods à Recovery

To sum up, the solution to the Great Depression proposed by John Maynard Keynes was to spend and increase expenditure. And it was done by government’s active interference. This proposal was quite shocking and opposite of classical idea. However, history proves that it was the key to recovery from the Great Depression. Indeed, the Great Depression could be overcome by revolutionary economical reform. So we call Keynes’ ideas “Revolution”


John Maynard Keynes (1936) General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money Basingstoke, Hampshire: Palgrave Macmillan

John Maynard Keynes. Library Economics Liberty Retrieved on 2 October 2, 2009 from

John Maynard Keynes, 1883-1946. Retrieved on 2 October 2009 from

John Maynard Keynes (September 30, 2009). In Wikipedia. The Free Encyclopedia Retrieved 00:07 September 30, 2009 from

The Economic Consequences of Peace (May 11, 2009). In Wikipedia. The Free Encyclopedia Retrieved 18:37 May 11, 2009 from

John Maynard Keynes (1933) The Means to Prosperity London: Macmillan

Deflation Chambers Dictionary (1996). Edinburgh: Chambers

Great Depression (October 5, 2009). In Wikipedia. The Free Encyclopedia Retrieved 12:39 October 5, 2009 from

New Deal (October 1, 2009). In Wikipedia. The Free Encyclopedia Retrieved 17:57 October 1, 2009 from

Friday, October 16, 2009

Monograph #1 Mircea Elide

Christmas, an Aggregate of Archetypes

The theory of Mircea Elide that proposes repetition of an archetype is most well shown in holidays that people commemorate and celebrate. Holiday itself is made by people as they repeated a specific archetype from generation to generation. The Christmas would show us not only repetition of an archetype but also the fact that people make rituals based on something that is related with a divine model.

Christmas is an annual holiday celebrated on December 25 that commemorates the birth of Jesus Christ. This is a popular holiday that is celebrated by both Christians and non-Christians. However, December 25 is not Jesus’ actual date of birth and this day has been chosen to correspond with other holidays that pagans were celebrating. There were many holidays or customs that were corresponded with Christmas.

First one was The Roman solar holiday Dies Natalis Solis Invicti which means “the birthday of unconquered Sun” The use of title Sol Invictus allowed several solar deities to be worshipped collectively, including Elah-Gabal, a Syrian sun god; Sol, the god of Emperor Aurelian; and Mithras, a soldiers' god of Persian origin. Emperor Elagabalus (218–222) introduced the festival, and it reached the height of its popularity under Aurelian, who promoted it as an empire-wide holiday. This day had held no significance in the Roman festive calendar until it was introduced in the third century.

Second one was a winter festival which is the most popular festival of the year in many cultures. Reasons included the fact that less agricultural work needs to be done during the winter, as well as an expectation of better weather as spring approached. Modern Christmas customs include: gift-giving and merrymaking from Roman Saturnalia; greenery, lights, and charity from the Roman New Year; and Yule logs and various foods from Germanic feasts. Pagan Scandinavia celebrated a winter festival called Yule, held in the late December to early January period. As Northern Europe was the last part to Christianize, its pagan traditions had a major influence on Christmas. Scandinavians still call Christmas Jul. In English, the word Yule is synonymous with Christmas, a usage first recorded in 900.

And lastly, Saturn, a god of agriculture and Mitra, a god of sun of Iranians were worshipped at that day by people.

The earliest reference to the celebration of the nativity on December 25 is found in the Chronography of 354, an illuminated manuscript compiled in Rome in 354. In the East, early Christians celebrated the birth of Christ as part of Epiphany (January 6), and this festival included the celebration of the baptism of Jesus. Christmas was promoted in the Christian East as part of the revival of Catholicism following the death of the pro-Arian Emperor Valens at the Battle of Adrianople in 378. The feast was introduced to Constantinople in 379, and to Antioch in about 380. The feast disappeared after Gregory of Nazianzus resigned as bishop in 381, although it was reintroduced by John Chrysostom in about 400.

Christmas during the Middle Ages was a public festival that includes ivy, holly, and other evergreens. Christmas gift-giving during the Middle Ages was usually between people with legal relationships, such as tenant and landlord.

In modern ages, people all over the world are celebrating and considering it a holiday emphasizing family, goodwill, and compassion as opposed to communal celebration and excess.

In the History and origin of Christmas, it is a noticeable fact that Christmas was associated with various pagan customs. And those customs were all derived from a myth and a divine model. Christmas can be considered as an aggregate of various archetypes derived from a divine being. This Historical analysis on Christmas can offer us an important source to explain Eliade’s view. It also shows that archetypes or ritual can possibly interact with each other.

Christmas is mythical. People are celebrating the birth of Jesus whom they have not ever seen. The fact that God, a divine model has come to the earth in appearance of man is attractive enough to make people interested in it. Their interest and desire toward a divine events or being lead to the ritual, and as many people practiced it, it became an archetype that is repeated even today. And as it is mixed up with other rituals or archetypes derived from mythical or divine events or being, it became a good example to explain how people make their rituals and repeat archetypes and how the different archetypes or ritual interact with each other.

Christmas, undoubtedly a most popular and well known holiday has been celebrated more than 1500 years all over the world regardless of religions, and nationality. It is a typical archetype and a ritual which is derived from a divine being. People are celebrating and repeating the event that has happened 2,000 years ago. We will be able to see how exactly Mircea Eliade pointed out the characteristics of an archetype and a ritual through “Christmas”


Christmas. (2009, July 6). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 18:50 July 6, 2009, from

The History of Christmas (2009, July 6). Retrieved 19:10 July 6, 2009, from

Christmas (2009, July 6). Retrieved 19:25 July 6, 2009 from

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Monograph #12 Fernand Braudel

Development of Transportation, Vehicle

Transportation is the movement of people and goods from one location to another. Transport is performed by modes, such as air, rail, road, water, cable, pipeline and space. The field can be divided into infrastructure, vehicles, and operations. (Wikipedia)

As Civilization emerged, and farming and domesticating which resulted in surpluses began, there came trade between groups. What is really important in trade is transportation. In order to trade, people needed to move their goods to trade. This need urged people to seek efficient way of transportation and it was the beginning of development transportation.

Since BC 3500 when the civilizations began, technology and means of transportation has been developing until now. Therefore, I would say the development of transportation would be a good example of events which takes place in long duration time span that Fernand Braudel proposes.

When we talk about transportation, the most of us would first think of vehicle which is a mechanical means of conveyance, a carriage or transport. (Wikipedia) So I would like to focus on how vehicle has been developing in long time of History by following chronicle.

BC 3500

Fixed Wheels on carts are invented – The first wheeled vehicles in History. Other early wheeled vehicles include the chariot.

The wheel is quite great invention in human civilization. The oldest wheel was found in Mesopotamia. We all know that wheel is everywhere on all our cars, trains, airplane, machines, wagon and most factory and farm equipment. We cannot imagine that we move things without wheel. It is so amazing that we, resent people still use a wheel which invented 5,500 years ago.

River boats are invented – Ships with oars

Vehicle was invented not only on land but also on water. In Mesopotamia, the first boats were built out of inflated and stretched animal skins and clay pots. The Egyptians used reeds. Early wood boats included: rafts, canoes, and dugouts.

BC 2000

Horses are domesticated and used for transportation.

Sculptures and drawings that date from the 2nd millennium BC show men and women on horseback. Using Horses as means of transportation played vital role from ancient countries to before a car invented.

The wheelbarrow is invented.

Chuko Liang (181-234 A.D.) of China is considered to be the inventor of the wheelbarrow. Liang was a general who used the wheelbarrows to transport supplies injured soldiers. The Chinese wheelbarrows had two wheels and required two men to propel and steer.


Leonardo da Vinci first to seriously theorize about flying machines - with over 100 drawings that illustrated his theories on flight

He had over 100 drawings that illustrated his theories on bird and mechanical flight. The drawings illustrated the wings and tails of birds, ideas for man carrying machines, and devices for the testing of wings. The Ornithopter flying machine was never actually created. It was a design that Leonardo da Vinci created to show how man could fly. The modern day helicopter is based on this concept. Leonardo da Vinci's notebooks on flight were reexamined in the 19th century by aviation pioneers.


Cornelis Drebbel invented the first submarine - an human oared submersible

Designs for underwater boats or submarines date back to the 1500s and ideas for underwater travel date back even further. However it was not until the 19th century that the first useful submarines began to appear.


Steamboat was invented

In 1769, the Scotsman James Watt patented an improved version of the steam engine that ushered in the Industrial Revolution. The idea of using steam power to propel boats occurred to inventors soon after the potential of Watt's new engine became known.


Jean Lenoir makes a gasoline engine automobile

Belgian-born engineer, Jean JosephÉtienne Lenoir invented and patented (1860) a double-acting, electric spark-ignition internal combustion engine fueled by coal gas. In 1863, Lenoir attached an improved engine (using petroleum and a primitive carburetor) to a three-wheeled wagon that managed to complete an historic fifty-mile road trip.


First motorcycle invented

American, Sylvester Howard Roper (1823-1896) invented a two-cylinder, steam-engine motorcycle (powered by coal) in 1867. This can be considered the first motorcycle, if you allow your description of a motorcycle to include a steam engine.


The Wright Brothers invent and fly the first engined airplane

Orville Wright (1871-1948) and Wilbur Wright (1867-1912) requested a patent application for a "flying machine" nine months before their successful flight in December 1903, which Orville Wright recorded in his diary.


First liquid propelled rocket launched

Liquid fueled rockets were first theorized by Tsiolkozski in his "Investigation of Interplanetary Space by Means of Reactive Devices," published in 1896. His idea was realized 27 years later when Robert Goddard launched the first liquid fueled rocket.


First supersonic jet flight
Dr. Hans von Ohain and Sir Frank Whittle are both recognized as being the co-inventors of the jet engine. Each worked separately and knew nothing of the other's work. Hans von Ohain is considered the designer of the first operational turbojet engine. Frank Whittle was the first to register a patent for the turbojet engine in 1930. Hans von Ohain was granted a patent for his turbojet engine in 1936. However, Hans von Ohain's jet was the first to fly in 1939. Frank Whittle's jet first flew in in 1941.


First manned mission (Apollo) to the Moon

"That's one small step for [a] man, one giant leap for mankind." Neil A. Armstrong uttered these famous words on July 20, 1969, when the Apollo 11 mission fulfilled Kennedy's challenge by successfully landing Armstrong and Edwin E. "Buzz" Aldrin, Jr. on the Moon. Armstrong dramatically piloted the lunar module to the lunar surface with less than 30 seconds worth of fuel remaining.


Space shuttle launched

After a gap of six years, NASA returned to human spaceflight in 1981, with the advent of the Space Shuttle. The Shuttle's first mission, STS-1, took off on April 12, 1981, demonstrating that it could take off vertically and glide to an unpowered airplane-like landing.

In this quite long duration of time span, we are able to see how the transportation has been developing. The changes in transportation technology were quite gradual and slow but steady. As what we see, technological advancement in transportation brings us even outside the Earth.

Actually, the changes and development of transportation did not occur at once and they do not seem that they were giving great impact every time when each of them took place. However, the development of transportation very much contributed on development of human society and civilization in fact.


Transport (September 25, 2009) In Wikipedia. The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 00:03 September 25, 2009 from

Vehicle (September 20, 2009) In Wikipedia. The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 19:16 September 20, 2009 from

Braudel, F. (1982). On history. (S. Matthews, Trans.). University of Chicago. (Original
work published 1969).

The History of Transportation (2009), a part of The New York Times Company. Retrieved September 25, 2009 from

Position Paper # 12 Fernand Braudel


The Three Time Span

Personally, I am quite impressed by Fernand Braudel’s vision on History. I am able to notice that he has quite different view point with other Historians. While other Historians seek significance of some special events which are dramatic and exciting and which took place mostly in a short time, he would like to take a long and wide view on History which focuses on long duration events that are not really exciting and interesting. I am not insisting that his work is way better than any other philosophers of History. Rather I would want to point out the value of his work in establishing unbiased and not narrow view on History.

Danto, who advocates narrative form of account and interpretation of History willingly or unwillingly, focuses more on short-term events (Which Braudel calls History of event) than long duration events. Although Braudel idea challenges Danto’s view, I still admit Danto advocating narrative account because this sort of analysis can give us emphasis and important teachings from certain noticeable events. I believe that Danto’s narrative account and Braudel’s long duration events are the two big pillars required in building up proper and unbiased view on History.

Fernand Braudel is much interested in different types of time span and rhythm. He believes that historians must not only consider the relations of coexisting elements (for example, cultural, geographic, economic and political developments) but also those over different periods of time (for instance, long-term and short-term developments). (Marie Hughes Warrington, 2009) The three types of time span Braudel proposes are: history of event, history of conjucture, and history of Long duration.

First, history of event may be 5 years, 7 years or around 10 years. This time span is suited to the study of things like major events (Staloff, 1995). The sort of events which is noticeable like wars and revolutions take place in relation with individual time span. I would say that individual time span and the events took place during that time span is where the most of narrativists focus on because the events of individual time span are generally absorbed with dramatic development with exciting revelation.

Second, history of conjucture may be measured in decades. The events of social time span generally take place cyclically in 20 to 50 years duration. The sort of events during social time span is generally referring to business cycle, technological development and so on.

Third, and last, history of Long duration which is Braudel is interested in most. It is not measured in decades but in centuries. Ecological, geographical history and rise and fall of civilization are the sort of events which take place in long duration time span. Those changes and developments are extremely slow and gradual.

Braudel uses metaphor in his account on time span. According to him, history of event is surface of the water, history of conjucture is the wave, and history of long duration is the tidal force. What does that imply? The events the most of us and specially narrativist interested in are like surface of water which occurs as a result of movement of wave. And the deeper cause of moving wave is tidal force.

Braudel actually wants to concentrate on Historical events which refer to tidal force rather than surface events. He insists that long duration time span is actually deeper study of History. That is why he sometimes criticizes narrativists like Danto who are generally focusing on surface of History. I believe that his point is that while we are too much focusing on surface of water we might overlook the importance of wave and tidal force which are actually fundamental cause or factor of surface of water.

Braudel wants us to consider the ‘deeper waters’ of the style of history as well as its content and boundaries. (Marie Hughes Warrington, 2009)


Braudel’s Structuralism

So what part of History in particular is Braudel interested in? Actually, his study is rarely dealing with dramatic event but structure which exists beneath the surface of events and with the conjuctural comprises what he calls unconscious History. (Staloff, 1995)

Structuralism is defined as a method of analyzing phenomena, as in anthropology, linguistics, psychology, or literature, chiefly characterized by contrasting the elemental structures of the phenomena in a system of binary opposition. We can see structure as a distinct pattern of relationship between persons, institutions and entities within a society. Therefore, I would say Braudel’s study profoundly looks into social changes with regards to the structures.

Braudel is considered as Historian who revolutionized 20th century study of his discipline by considering the effects of such outside disciplines as economics, anthropology, and geography on global History. (Wikipedia) In order to precisely look into the structure of History, Braudel chooses to study economics, anthropology and geography which require wide and long view to study because the events of such studies take place in long duration time span. He believes that once we know deeper level of time (tidal force) then we can with them why we have the wave and surface we see.

I would like to support Braudel’s idea. I strongly believe that Historians must cultivate widened and deepened perspective on History. In order to understand History properly, we must not stay at surface of the sea of History but must go deeper to see waves and tidal force which move the sea of History. Knowing events of long duration time span give us profound and precise understanding of events of short time span. So I would want to say that narrativists need to cultivate their knowledge of long duration event also rather to much focus on the dramatic events in order for them to improve their account of their studies.

I would like to highly value Braudel for pointing out the fact that fundamental causes and factors of the events like wars and revolutions (which are dramatic) which the most of students who study History are mainly dealing with are found in long duration time span that is boring, too ordinary and seeming not important. His idea suggests us to avert our eyes to ordinary people and their lives rather to focus only on dramatic and exciting events. Braudel insists that our lives must be recovered structurally.

Braudel’s idea promises us to recover the experiences of ordinary people and treat their lives as integral part of History. (Staloff, 1995) While Hegel is insisting History that of Great man, Braudel suggests us to look into the ordinary people’s lives and experiences. While Danto and other analytic narrativist are absorbed in dramatic and exciting like surface of the sea which flows fast, Braudel suggests us to look into the events that are not dramatic and exciting but really important like deep water of the sea which flows slow without any sound but which is strong force that is moving whole sea.

For recent people who are pursuing incentive, dramatic and exciting Historical events, Braudel’s theory would be great challenge. His theory helps us to have unbiased and balanced view. He sharply points out what are not really noticeable and we easily pass by without any impression in studying History. I am quite impressed by his work on History.


Staloff, D. (1995) The search for a meaningful past philosophies, theories, and
interpretations [Audiobook]. The Teaching Company.

Hegel, G.W.F. (2001). The philosophy of history (J. Sibree, Trans.). Kitchener, Ontario:
Batoche Books.

Danto, A.C. (1985). Narration and knowledge. Columbia University.

Braudel, F. (1982). On history. (S. Matthews, Trans.). University of Chicago. (Original
work published 1969).

Marie Hughes Warrington (2009). 50 Key Thinker on History New York: Routlege

Fernand Braudel (September 25, 2009). In Wikipedia. The Free Encyclopedia Retrieved 18:11 September 25, 2009 from

Monograph # 11 Arthur C. Danto

Gwang-Ju Student Movement

For few years after 3.1 Movement in 1919, there was no such movement against Japan to cry for the nation’s independence. And Japanese colonial policy became harsher than before. In 1920, there was a great depression which swept all over the world. It has resulted as food shortage in Japan. As a way out, Japan increased the quantity of rice she took from Korea, her colony by force. The Japanese policy of hard exploitation brought Koreans to great frustration. Under the frustration, depression and suffering, Koreans were losing their passion and willingness to achieve their nation’s independence. They were too busy to think of the independence of the nation.

Would you believe if it was just an incident of a fight between a 16-year-old Korean boy and a number of Japanese middle school students that set the fire to the movement for nation’s independence once again?

One day, it was October 29, 1929, as usual the school train from Gwang-Ju arrived Na-ju. In the train there were both Korean and Japanese students. When the train arrived to the station, Japanese students Hukuda, Danaka and others ridiculed and did violence to Korean girls, Park Gi-ok and Lee Gwang Chun. Hukuda snatched down Park’s hair and never stopped ridiculing.

Park Jun-Chae, the brother of Park Gi-ok coming into the station saw his sister was being insulted and tried to stop them. But Japanese did not listen to him. Japanese policeman who saw them fighting came to Park Jun-Chae and beat him up with other Japanese there. It was known to other Korean students and group fight between Korean and Japanese students has begun in the station.

It was continued up to November 3, the one of the biggest Japanese national holiday that celebrated birth of Meiji. What was so interesting was that November 3 of 1929 was October 3 in the lunar calendar, the national holiday of Korea that commemorated beginning of Korea. During the commemorative ceremony of Meiji day, Korean students refused to sing Kimigayo, the national hymn of Japan and this once again set fire to fighting between Koreans and Japanese. The group fighting was widened to fighting of all the students in Gwang-Ju region and it was not fighting anymore but a movement of Korea against Japan.

At first, the fighting began with 10-20 people. But later on, the number of people who were involved in the fighting became 500 and again, it became 3000 number of students and citizens participated in the movement

Korean students organized the Student Movement Organization and tried to extend their movement to all the regions in the nation. They also made propaganda movement saying that:

1. Let us recapture our unjustly arrested students.

2. Let us strongly forbid entrance of polices into the schools.

3. Let us abolish colonial educational system.

4. Let us establish up our own educational system

The movements continued until Japan gave up her colonial rule in Korea. In fact, student movement set fire to many of patriot in Korea and brought other movement for independence once again.

The small quarrel between 16 years old Korean boy and other Japanese students just because Japanese insulted Korean girls, brought national movements once again. 24 years later, the government of Korea commemorated the students who fought for their nations by setting November 3 as a Student Independence Movement day. They still remember the students, a young sprit, which brought courage and fire to their nation.


Gwang-Ju Student Movement Retrieved on 20 September 2009 from

Gwang-Ju Students’ Independence Movement Retrieved on 20 September 2009 from

Student’s Day (September 20, 2009). Dusan Encyber. Retrieved on September 20, 2009 from