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26 Historically Speaking ยท May/June 2005 ofmore holistic approaches to history within world history and big history will make it easier to see that there really is no fundamental gulfbetween history and the sciences, and that history can define its domain of study and fundamental rules of change with as much precision as any other scholarly discipline . David Christian is professor ofhistory at San Diego State University. His most recent book is Maps of Time: An Introduction to Big History (University of California Press, 2004). 1 See David Christian, Maps of Time: An Introduction to Big History (University of California Press, 2004); and "World History in Context," Journal of World History 14 (2003): 437-458. On "big history," see Mamie HughesWarrington , "Big History" in Historically Speaking: The Bulletin of the Historical Society (November 2002). The discussion below was prompted in part by writing "History in the Landscapes of Modern Knowledge," a review essay on John Lewis Gaddis, The Landscape of History: How Historians Map the Past (Oxford University Press, 2002), which revisits two 20thcentury classics on historiography: E.H. Carr, What is History? (Penguin, 1964 [first published in 1961]) and Marc Bloch, The Historian's Craft, trans. Peter Putnam (Manchester University Press, 1992 [first published in 1953]) and appears in History and Theory 43 (2004): 360-371. 2 The impact on historiography of the "Heroic Model of Science" is described well in Joyce Appleby, Lynn Hunt, and Margaret Jacob, Telling the Truth about History (Norton, 1995), particularly chs. 1, 2, and 5. 3 Cited in Peter Novick, That Noble Dream: The "Objectivity Question " and the American Historical Profession (Cambridge University Press, 1988), 37-38. 4 R.G Collingwood, The Idea ofHistory, rev. ed., with an introduction by Jan Van Der Dussen (Oxford University Press, 1993). 5 CP. Snow, "The Two Cultures and the Scientific Revolution," in CP. Snow, Public Affairs (Macmillan, 1971), 23. 6 See William H. McNeill, "History and the Scientific Worldview," History and Theory 37 (1998): 1-13 and "Passing Strange: The Convergence of Evolutionary Science with Scientific History," History and Theory 40 (2001): 1-15. 7 The metaphor ofscience as a sort ofmapping is explored in John Ziman, Reliable Knowledge: An Exploration ofthe Groundsfor Beliefin Science (Cambridge University Press, 1978), ch. 4, "World Maps and Pictures." On page 78 he cites Michael Polanyi, Personal Knowledge (Routledge & Keegan Paul, 1958), 4. 8 E.O. Wilson, Consilience: The Unity of Knowledge (Abacus, 1998). 9 A much more sophisticated attempt to extend Darwinian paradigms to human history can be found in Peter J. Richerson and Robert Boyd, Not by Genes Alone: How Culture Transformed Human Evolution (University of Chicago Press, 2004). 10Kuhn described the notion of a paradigm most influentially in Thomas S. Kuhn, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, 2nd ed. (University of Chicago Press, 1970). The profound impact of Kuhn's ideas on historical thought is described well in Appleby, Hunt, and Jacob, Telling the Truth about History, 163-66 and Novick, That Noble Dream, 526-535. 11The metaphor of a human web has been explored with great elegance in John R. McNeill and William H. McNeill, The Human Web: A Bird's-Eye View of World History (Norton, 2003); see also Donald A. Yerxa, "An Interview with J.R. McNeill and William H. McNeill," in Historically Speaking: The Bulletin ofthe Historical Society (November 2002). 12Some ofthe hypotheses described below are explored in Christian, Maps ofTime, chs. 7-14. 13Hayden White argues that the deep resistance of many historians to "scientific explanations" is a matter of aesthetics as much as epistemology; see Metahistory: The Historical Imagination in Nineteenth-Century Europe (John Hopkins University Press, 1975), 19-21. Follow the Energy: The Relevance of Cosmic Evolution for Human History Eric J. Chaisson Planetologists now searching for microbial life on Mars know well to "follow the water," and anthropologists studying the behavior of modern men and women on Earth are often said to "follow the money." Likewise, "big historians" seeking a unified view of life and civilization in the universe writ large would do well to "follow the energy." Energy, the ability to do work, is a powerful concept upon which to build an all-inclusive, interdisciplinary, historical , yet quantitative narrative...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1944-6438
Print ISSN
1941-4188
Pages
pp. 26-28
Launched on MUSE
2012-01-04
Open Access
No
Archive Status
Ceased Publication
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