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On the Future of HistoryThe Postmodernist Challenge and Its Aftermath$
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Ernst Breisach

Print publication date: 2003

Print ISBN-13: 9780226072791

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: March 2013

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226072814.001.0001

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Insights and Problems

Insights and Problems

Chapter:
13 Insights and Problems
Source:
On the Future of History
Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226072814.003.0013

Structural postmodernists granted, in a limited sense, the presence of a crisis of representation. Theirs was not a call for a complete remodeling of the infrastructure of historical knowledge via the linguistic turn. They simply recalled the well-known lesson that all human actions have intended and unintended consequences to explain and resolve the much debated crisis of progress and modernity. The highlighting of the unexpected or ignored tendencies of progress would make visible the “true” aim of progressive developments and yield the proper indications for the shape of the future. Progress would be vindicated, albeit in a manner not expected. That gap between the realities created by progress and the expectations from progress was one between reality and illusions. The latter centered on the final emancipation of humanity, resulting in freedom, equality, virtue, and happiness. The reality of progress knew the change from reason as liberator to reason as instrument of control that created technology, bureaucratic organization, mass production, and communication—all creating sameness.

Keywords:   structural postmodernism, historical knowledge, human actions, progress, modernity, mass production

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