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Historical Theory

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The low level of their productive powers, the immaturity of their economic forms, the narrowness of their activities and the meagreness of their culture and connections are evidenced in their extremely restricted views of the course of events.

Thus, throughout history, in all societies and in all modes of production, from the earliest paleolithic hunter gatherers, through to feudal societies and to modern capitalist economies, there is an 'everlasting Nature-imposed condition of human existence' which compels humans to join together socially to produce their means of subsistence. Montesquieu, for example, regarded geography and government as the twin principal determinants of history and society.

Under the theocratic monarchies of the East the divine guidance of human affairs was wrapped up with the godlike nature of the priest-king. However, production does not get carried out in the abstract, or by entering into arbitrary or random relations chosen at will, but instead are determined by the development of the existing forces of production. These are the prime principles from which the rest of Marxist theory about the historical process is derived. e., Paul Barth] has not yet discovered that while the material mode of existence is the primum agens [first agent] this does not preclude the ideological spheres from reacting upon it in their turn, though with a secondary effect, he cannot possibly have understood the subject he is writing about.

This narrowness made it equally difficult for them to decipher the past, get to the bottom of their present, and foresee the future. These defects prevented Hegel from arriving at the true nature of social relations and the principal causes of social change.Subsequently, the new capitalist mode of production also began expanding into other societies that had not yet developed a capitalist system (e. In the introduction to the English edition of Socialism: Utopian and Scientific Engels defined historical materialism as “that view of the course of history which seeks the ultimate cause and the great moving power of all historic events in the economic development of society, in the changes in the modes of production and exchange, in the consequent division of society into distinct classes, and in the struggles of these classes against one another”. The first attempts to survey the long march of human history, study its causes, and set forth its successive stages along scientific lines were made only about 2500 years ago. As Charles Taylor puts it, "These two directions of influence are so far from being rivals that they are actually complementary.

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