Tag: historicism

In Defense of Taking Things Out of Context

Lately, I’ve had the feeling that the push to contextualize and historicize¬†in the humanities and some of the social sciences has become a stumbling block to thought itself, to new ideas and original thinking. This is on my mind, I suppose, because next year, I’ll be giving the keynote address at the annual meeting of the Society for US Intellectual History; I’m thinking of titling it “Against Context, Against History” or perhaps just “In Defense of Taking Things Out of Context.” That needn’t be the case: ideally, historicism and contextualism should alienate us from a familiar past, should push us beyond conventional interpretations. They should force us to grasp the past in its pastness, and thereby render our present strange. […]