Monday, October 4, 2010

Richard Evans: In Defense of History

I completed Richard Evans's In Defense of History (1999, 272 p.). Evans writes on the topics that historians must always deal with, either up front and in the back of their minds: issues of causation, facts, sources, choice of topics, and the like. Much of this can seem mundane, but it can also become quite controversial. Evans treats it all with an even hand. His most significant contribution comes from his critique of more radical notions of post-modernism. He welcomes new ideas of perspective and topics, but he rejects the extreme relativism that some promote as a part of this movement. As does Ken Wilber, among others, he points to the performative contradiction at the heart of extreme relativism. Evans is persuasive about this, and I think he take history to a very solid philosophical (in the broadest sense) footing. A find book well considered, and a pleasure to read.